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Friday, 17 January 2014

Bloomsbury by Quentin Bell

My version published by Futura Publications, 1974

Book Review Rating ♥♥♥♥♥

Quentin Bell is the son of Vanessa and Clive Bell and the nephew of Virginia Woolf. As he was born in 1910, he freely admits his recollections of Bloomsbury are confined to the last phase of the Bloomsbury group.
I will state upfront that I am a lover of all things Bloomsbury. I have been an admirer of Virginia Woolf for many, many years. My bookshelves are heaving with all things Bloomsbury. So, read the five stars rating with that in mind. But in all fairness it does deserve the five stars.
Quentin Bell

I came across this little book some months ago in a second hand bookshop and was absolutely delighted I did. It is a delight from beginning to end and though I knew almost all the information about the Bloomsberries contained within the book it was interesting to read Quentin Bell’s take on the Bloomsbury group and their place in history.
Duncan Grant

This being an essay it can of course only scrape the surface of a group of people who still influence the world of literature, art and politics today. And as some 90 years ago still  today they can still polarize opinion. D.H. Lawrence the writer of such works as Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, hated the Bloomsbury group. He referred to them as a “group of immature, ill educated people.” He even referred to them as “black beetles” due to these insects infesting his nightmares.
Roger Fry

It would have been quite easy for Quentin Bell to have fallen into the realms of hagiography but like his fantastic two volume biography of Virginia Woolf he maintains his footing on the precipice and only occasionally looks down into the well of sycophancy. By resisting the hagiography the author is also falling in the footsteps of the Bloomsbury group. They all criticized each other’s work: Virginia disliked Lytton Strachey’s ‘Elizabeth and Essex’ and did not refrain from telling him so. 
Vanessa Bell by Duncan Grant
The book also contains some wonderful photographs and I was pleasantly surprised that there was two I had never seen before.

The essay is of course written commandingly and with supreme authority. The Bloomsbury group looked to bring a new honesty to art and literature after the traditionalist tyranny and emotional cant of the Victorian era and in many ways Quentin Bell achieves that same aim in this essay.

First Line - "It is necessary that I should begin by saying a few words about myself."

Memorable Line - Too many to mention

Number of Pages - 86


  1. I too love everything Bloomsbury. I would have liked to be a part of their group. I've not read this one but based on your Review, I will. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for those kind words. It would have been great to have been around at the beginning of the 20th century and been part of the group. Hope you enjoy the book.