Archive for the ‘Bloomsbury’ Category

Shakespeare and Bloomsbury. They may not seem to go together, but they do. And the Folger Shakespeare Library has created a podcast in its “Shakespeare Unlimited” series that explains how.

In episode 221, Harvard Professor Marjorie Garber explains how modernist writers of London’s Bloomsbury group made Shakespeare their own. In this conversation with Barbara Bogaev, she discusses the threads of Shakespeare that run through Woolf’s novels, how Lytton Strachey changed our perspective on Shakespeare’s late plays, and what got her interested in the Bloomsbury Group in the first place, according to the website.

Garber is the author of Shakespeare in Bloomsbury (2023), in which she traces the influence of Shakespeare on the members of the group, which included Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Vanessa Bell, Dadie Rylands, Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, and others.

What surprised me was how widespread it was . . . they are all writers and they’re interested in style, but no matter what they’re writing about, Shakespeare comes in. . . He is for them the pinnacle of a certain kind of intellectual achievement.

Read more.

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Charleston is coming to Lewes, Sussex.

In September, the venerable location of Bloomsbury in the country will open a new venue in the former district council offices in Southover Road in Lewes that will feature a shop, a pop-up café pop-up café operated by Lewes-based Caccia & Tails, and a free program of co-produced community projects, artist-led workshops, gallery activities, and a learning program.

Charleston, 2019

The effort is the first step in bringing 100 of the most important Bloomsbury works back to Sussex and providing a growing Bloomsbury archive in a central location that is accessible to researchers and visitors.

Two free exhibitions will be featured during the venue’s first season, which will run Sept. 13 through Jan. 7, 2024:

Transforming the cultural life of Lewes

Here is what Nathaniel Hepburn, director of Charleston, has to say about the project:

“Since Charleston reopened after the pandemic, we have been working in partnership with the council and community groups in Lewes to develop a bold and ambitious vision which could transform the cultural life of Lewes and replicate the ‘Rodin effect’ from 1999 when Tate lent the famous Kiss sculpture to the town.

“It is exciting to be able to announce plans to launch this space in time for a major cultural season happening across Sussex to coincide with the largest contemporary art prize in the world – Turner Prize – being hosted in Eastbourne. It’s a great moment to put Lewes on the map as an important part of the region’s cultural offer.”

According to the Charleston website:

It is not a new idea for the Bloomsbury group to explore creating a cultural centre in Lewes. During the Second World War, the economist John Maynard Keynes, alongside Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, worked on a project for the precursor of the Arts Council, making designs for a theatre and art gallery – with a café – for small towns across the country, using Lewes as a model.

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Want to stay in a Bloomsbury bedroom dedicated to Virginia Woolf that is also on the site of a home formerly occupied by Virginia and Leonard Woolf? Maybe you can.

The site of the building at 37 Mecklenburgh Square in which Virginia Woolf lived.

The Woolfs lived on the top floor at 37 Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury, during the London blitz from 1939-1940, according to Jean Moorcroft Wilson’s Virginia Woolf Life and London: Bloomsbury and Beyond (1987/2011).

Now on that site is the William Goodenough House, which is part of Goodenough College. It has one student-style bedroom dedicated to Virginia, and each year that room is allocated to a literary student who, upon arrival, finds a copy of A Room of One’s Own on their bedside table.

Naida Babic was a student at Goodenough College in 2021. She recently met up with College Director Alice Walpole and friends to install a framed copy of one of her poems outside the room dedicated to Woolf, next to Woolf’s commemorative plaque.

She contacted Blogging Woolf to tell us about it and directed us to a story posted on the college website, where you can read the poem she wrote.

She explains: “I was living at Goodenough College while completing the last term of my MA Creative Writing programme at Birkbeck University, London. I wrote my poem “In the Hand of Virginia” during my poetry module.”

To commemorate the occasion, Maggie Humm, emeritus professor of cultural studies at the University of East London and the author or editor of 14 scholarly books and two novels, as well as Vice-Chair of the Virginia Woolf’s Society of Great Britain, gave a lecture on “The Photography of the Writer Virginia Woolf and Her Sister, the Artist Vanessa Bell.”

Maggie Humm talks about Woolf’s photography and how it relates to her writing at Dalloway Day 2018 at Gower Street Waterstones.


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Martin Riker’s protagonist in The Guest Lecture is Abby, an economist who has been denied tenure at her university for publishing a book about Maynard Keynes that is deemed derivative.

Because of her book’s popularity outside academia, she’s been invited to present a lecture to a lay audience. In a hotel room the night before, she’s preparing her talk in an imaginary conversation with Keynes himself.

She will discuss his “bohemian arty side,” so that the audience:

will depart having learned something about the Bloomsbury group, some bits and bobs of history. For example, the bizarre and wonderful factoid that Keynes was housemates with Virginia Woolf. They were friends and she at some point claimed to be jealous that he could do what she did—write beautifully—but she couldn’t do what he did—economics, politics.

Abby describes her office at home as:

A writing room. A reading and thinking room. A ‘room of one’s own’—which was my first Virginia Woolf book, incidentally, and remains a favorite example of how a conceptual argument—in this case about female autonomy, living your own life—can also be a practical argument, in a way Keynes probably appreciated.

I found the novel entertaining and educational, philosophical and thought-provoking. It’s interesting how Maynard Keynes has shed the stereotypical image of the serious and sober intellectual, as his colorful life and provocative views are explored in fiction here and also in E.J. Barnes’s Mr. Keynes’ Revolution and Mr. Keynes’ Dance and in Susan Sellers’ Firebird: A Bloomsbury Love Story.

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The Charleston Festival is back — in person — beginning yesterday and running through May 29 at Charleston in Firle, Sussex.

The festival is the main fundraising event for the longtime home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and the country refuge for the Bloomsbury group.

Of particular interest to Bloomsbury scholars is Sunday’s program with Alex Jennings and Jonathon Pryce. At 5:30 p.m., the actors will do a live reading of “The Love Lives of Lytton Strachey,” revealing “a playful and uncensored portrait of a queer universe, shared in glorious candid detail with trusted friends,” according to the website.

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