The daughter of a Liverpool merchant, she was born in Hereford, England, and attended the all-girls' Bedford High School which emphasized art. Her parents also paid for her to receive extra lessons in drawing. She went to the Slade School of Art at University College, London where she subsequently won a scholarship; her fellow students included Paul Nash, Christopher R. W. Nevinson and Mark Gertler. All at one time or another were in love with her, as was Nash's younger brother John Nash, who hoped to marry her. Gertler pursued Carrington for a number of years, and they had a brief sexual relationship during the years of the First World War.
From her time at the Slade onwards, she was commonly known simply by her surname. She was not well known as a painter during her lifetime, as she rarely exhibited and did not sign her work. She worked for a while at the Omega Workshops, and for the Hogarth Press, designing woodcuts.
Carrington was not a member of the Bloomsbury Group, though she was closely associated with Bloomsbury and, more generally, with "Bohemian" attitudes, through her long relationship with the homosexual writer Lytton Strachey, whom she first met in 1916. Distinguished by her cropped pageboy hair style (before it was fashionable) and somewhat androgynous appearance, she was troubled by her sexuality; she is known to have had at least two lesbian affairs (with Henrietta Bingham and Lady Ottoline Morrell). She also had a significant relationship with the writer Gerald Brenan.
Lytton Strachey with Dora Carrington and James Strachey
Giles Lytton Strachey was a British writer & critic. Dora Carrington was a British painter and decorative artist, remembered for her association with the Bloomsbury Group. Though Strachey spoke openly about his homosexuality with his Bloomsbury friends, it was not widely publicised until the late 1960s, in a biography by Michael Holroyd. In 1921 Carrington agreed to marry Ralph Partridge, not for love but to secure the 3-way relationship. She committed suicide two months after Strachey's death.
©Dora Carrington (1893–1932)/NPG 6662. Lytton Strachey, 1916 (©4)
E. M. Forster by Dora Carrington, 1920, NPG 4698
Gerald Brenan by Dora Carrington, 1921, NPG 5197
The Mill House at Tidmarsh by Dora Carrington
The Mill at Tidmarsh (on the market for £1.995m)
Lytton Strachey and Ralph Partridge
In June 1918 Virginia Woolf wrote of Carrington in her diary: "She is odd from her mixture of impulse & self consciousness. I wonder sometimes what she’s at: so eager to please, conciliatory, restless, & active.... [B]ut she is such a bustling eager creature, so red & solid, & at the same time inquisitive, that one can’t help liking her." Carrington first set up house with Lytton Strachey in November 1917, when they moved together to Tidmarsh Mill House, near Pangbourne, Berkshire. Carrington met Ralph Partridge, an Oxford friend of her younger brother Noel, in 1918. Partridge fell in love with Carrington and eventually, in 1921, Carrington agreed to marry him, not for love but to hold the menage a trois together. Strachey paid for the wedding, and also accompanied the couple on their honeymoon in Venice. The three moved to Ham Spray House in 1924, the home having been purchased by Strachey in the name of Partridge.
In 1926 Ralph Partridge began an affair with Frances Marshall, and left to live with her in London. His marriage to Carrington effectively over, he continued to visit her most weekends. In 1928 Carrington met Bernard ‘Beakus’ Penrose, a friend of Partridge’s and the younger brother of the artist Roland Penrose, and began an affair with him. The affair energized Carrington's artistic creativity, and she also collaborated with Penrose on the making of three films. However, Penrose wanted Carrington exclusively for himself, a commitment she refused to make because of her love for Strachey. The affair, her last with a man, ended when Carrington fell pregnant and had an abortion. Strachey died of stomach cancer at Ham Spray in January 1932.
Carrington, who saw no purpose in a life without Strachey, committed suicide two months later by shooting herself with a gun borrowed from her friend, Hon. Bryan Guinness (later 2nd Baron Moyne). Her body was cremated and the ashes buried under the laurels in the garden of the Ham Spray House in Wiltshire.
An accomplished painter of both portraits and landscape, she also worked in applied and decorative arts, painting on any type of surface she had at hand including inn signs, tiles and furniture. She also decorated pottery. Carrington designed the library at Ham Spray. In 1970 David Garnett published a selection of letters and extracts from her diary, since which time critical and popular appreciation of her work has risen sharply. In 1978, Sir John Rothenstein, for nearly 30 years Director of the Tate Gallery, London, called Dora Carrington "the most neglected serious painter of her time." "That is no longer the case. In 1995 she was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in London." Two of her works are in the Tate Gallery London. Carrington's life with Strachey was dramatized in the 1995 film Carrington, starring Emma Thompson in the title role.
For many years, Carrington’s art was neglected by the public and her main notoriety was due to her relationship with Lytton Strachey. On the day she agreed to marry Partridge she wrote to Strachey, who was in Italy, what has been described as "one of the most moving love letters in the English language. She wrote "... I cried last night Lytton, whilst he slept by my side sleeping happily—I cried to think of a savage cynical fate which had made it impossible for my love ever to be used by you ..." Strachey wrote back "... you do know very well that I love you as something more than a friend, you angelic creature, whose goodness to me has made me happy for years, and whose presence in my life has been and always will be, one of the most important things in my life ..." On his deathbed Strachey said, "I always wanted to marry Carrington and I never did." His biographer calls this sentiment "not true; but he could not have said anything more deeply consoling". Upon his death, Strachey left Carrington £10,000 (the equivalent of £240,000 in 1994).
Giles Lytton Strachey (1 March 1880 – 21 January 1932) was a British writer and critic. (P: ©Lady Ottoline Morrell (1873-1938)/NPG Ax140336. Lytton Strachey, 1911-12 (©4))
A founder member of the Bloomsbury Group and author of Eminent Victorians, he is best known for establishing a new form of biography in which psychological insight and sympathy are combined with irreverence and wit. His 1921 biography Queen Victoria was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Strachey was born on 1 March 1880, at Stowey House, Clapham Common, London, the fifth son and the eleventh child of Lieutenant General Sir Richard Strachey, an officer in the colonial British armed forces, and his second wife, the former Jane Grant, who became a leading supporter of the women's suffrage movement. He was named "Giles Lytton" after an early sixteenth-century Gyles Strachey and the first Earl of Lytton, who had been a friend of Richard Strachey's when he was Viceroy of India in the late 1870s. The Earl of Lytton was also Lytton Strachey's godfather. The Stracheys had thirteen children in total, ten of whom survived to adulthood, including Lytton's sister Dorothy Strachey.
When Lytton was four years old, the family moved from Stowey House to 69 Lancaster Gate, north of Kensington Gardens. This would be their home until Sir Richard Strachey retired twenty years later. Lady Strachey was an enthusiast for languages and literature, making her children perform their own plays and write verse from early ages. She thought that Lytton had potential to become a great artist so she decided that he would receive the best education possible in order to be "enlightened". By 1887 he had begun the study of French, a culture he would admire during his entire life.
Rosamond Lehmann with her brother John and Lytton Strachey
Strachey was educated at a series of schools, beginning at Parkstone, Dorset. This was a small school with a wide range of after class activities, where Strachey would exceed the other students' acting skills, being particularly convincing when portraying female parts. He would even tell his mother how much he liked dressing as a woman in real life so as to confuse and entertain others. Lady Strachey decided on 1893 that her son should start a more serious education, sending him to the Abbotsholme School in Rocester, Derbyshire where students were required to do manual work on a daily basis. Strachey's fragile physique couldn't take it and after few months he was transferred to Leamington College, where he would be victim of savage bullying. Sir Richard was tired of his son's delicate personality, so he told him to "grin and bear the petty bullying". Strachey did eventually adapt to the school's life, becoming one of its best students. His health also seemed to improve during the three years he spent at Leamington, although various illnesses continued to plague him.
When in 1897 Strachey turned seventeen, Lady Strachey decided that her son was ready to leave school and go to university, but because she thought he was yet too young for Oxford she decided that he should first attend a smaller institution - the University of Liverpool. There Strachey befriended his Professor of Modern Literature, Walter Raleigh, who, besides being his favourite lecturer, also became the most influential figure in his life before he went up to Cambridge. In 1899 Strachey took the Christ Church scholarship examination, wanting to get into Balliol Oxford. The examiners determined that Strachey's academic achievements were not remarkable, plus they were struck by his "shyness and nervousness". They recommended Lincoln College as a more suitable institution for Strachey, advice that Lady Strachey took as an insult, deciding then that her son would attend Trinity College Cambridge instead.
Strachey was admitted as Pensioner at Trinity College, Cambridge, on 30 September 1899. He became an Exhibitioner in 1900 and a Scholar in 1902. He won the Chancellor's Medal for English Verse in 1902 and was given a B.A. degree after he had won a second-class in the History Tripos in June 1903. He did not, however, leave of Trinity but remained until October 1905 to work on a thesis which he hoped would gain him a Fellowship. Strachey was often ill and had to leave Cambridge repeatedly in order to recover from the palpitations that would subdue him.
The Cambridge period was a happy and productive one in Strachey's life. Among the freshmen at Trinity there were three with whom Strachey soon became closely associated: Clive Bell, Leonard Woolf and Saxon Sydney-Turner. With another undergraduate, A. J. Robertson, the students formed a group called "The Midnight Society" which, in the opinion of Clive Bell, was the source of the Bloomsbury Group. Strachey also belonged to the "Conversazione Society," the famous "Cambridge Apostles" to which Tennyson, Hallam, Maurice, and Sterling had once belonged. The Cambridge period was also one in which Strachey was highly prolific in writing verse, much of which has been preserved and some of which was published at the time. At Cambridge Strachey also became acquainted with other men who would greatly influence him like G. Lowes Dickinson, John Maynard Keynes, Walter Lamb (brother of painter Henry Lamb), George Mallory, Bertrand Russell, and G. E. Moore. Moore's philosophy, with its assumption that the summum bonum lies in achieving a high quality of humanity, in experiencing delectable states of mind, and in intensifying experience by contemplating great works of art, was a particularly important influence.
In the summer of 1903 Strachey applied for a position in the Education Department of the Civil Service. Even though the letters of recommendation written for him by those under whom he had studied showed that he was held in high esteem by those at Cambridge, he failed to get the appointment and decided to try for a fellowship in Trinity College. He spent from 1903 to 1905 writing his four hundred page thesis on Warren Hastings, which was not very well received among the scholars of his time.
When in the autumn of 1905 he left Trinity College, his mother assigned him a bed-sitting room at 69 Lancaster Gate. After the family moved to 67 Belsize Gardens in Hampstead and later to another house in the same street, he was assigned other bed-sitters. But, as he was about to turn 30, family life started irritating him, and he took to traveling to the country more often, supporting himself by writing reviews and critical articles for The Spectator and other periodicals. About 1910-11 he spent some time at Saltsjöbaden, near Stockholm in Sweden. In this period he also lived for a while in a cottage on Dartmoor and about 1911-12 spent a whole winter at East Ilsley on the Berkshire Downs. During this time he decided to grow a beard, which would become his most characteristic feature. On 9 May 1911, he wrote to his mother:
"The chief news is that I have grown a beard! Its colour is very much admired, and it is generally considered extremely effective, though some ill-bred persons have been observed to laugh. It is a red-brown of the most approved tint, and makes me look like a French decadent poet—or something equally distinguished."
In 1911, H. A. L. Fisher, a former president of the British Academy and of the Board of Education, was in search of someone to write a short, one-volume survey of French literature. Fisher had read one of Strachey's reviews ("Two Frenchmen", Independent Review (1903)) and asked him to write a such as sketch in fifty thousand words, giving him J. W. Mackail's 1909 Latin Literature as a model. Landmarks in French Literature, dedicated to "J[ane] M[aria] S[trachey]," his mother, was published on 12 January 1912. Despite almost a full column of praise in its honour in The Times Literary Supplement of 1 February and sales, that by April 1914, had reached nearly 12,000 copies in the British Empire and America, the book brought Strachey neither the fame he craved nor the money which he so badly needed.
Soon after the publication of Landmarks, Strachey's mother and his friend Harry Norton, supported him financially. Strachey later paid back the money. Each provided him with £100 which, together with earnings from the Edinburgh Review and from other periodicals, made it possible for him to rent a small, thatched cottage called "The Lacket" outside the village of Lockeridge, near Marlborough, Wiltshire. Here he established himself until 1916 and wrote the first three parts of Eminent Victorians.
Strachey's theory of biography was now fully developed and mature. He was greatly influenced by Dostoyevsky, whose novels Strachey had been reading and reviewing as they appeared in Constance Garnett's translations. Also the influence of Freud would be important on Strachey's later works, most notably on Elizabeth and Essex.
In 1916 Lytton Strachey was back in London living with his mother at 6 Belsize Park Gardens, Hampstead, where she had now moved. In the late autumn of 1917, however, his brother Oliver and his friends Harry Norton, John Maynard Keynes, and Saxon Sydney-Turner agreed to pay the rent on "The Mill House" at Tidmarsh, near Pangbourne, Berkshire. After the success of Eminent Victorians, published on 9 May 1918, he needed no help from outside. He continued to live at Tidmarsh until the proceeds from Queen Victoria (1921) made it possible for him to buy Ham Spray House near Marlborough, Wiltshire, to which he moved in July 1924, and which was his home for the rest of his life.
At Cambridge he had become close friends with non-Apostles Thoby Stephen and Clive Bell, and they, together with sisters Vanessa and Virginia Stephen (later Bell and Woolf respectively), eventually formed the Bloomsbury group. From 1904 to 1914 Strachey contributed book and drama reviews to The Spectator magazine.
Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf
During World War I he applied for recognition as a conscientious objector, but in the event was granted exemption from military service on health grounds. He spent much time with like-minded people such as Lady Ottoline Morrell and the 'Bloomsberries'. His first great success, and his most famous achievement, was Eminent Victorians (1918), a collection of four short biographies of Victorian heroes. This work was followed in the same style by Queen Victoria (1921). He died of (then undiagnosed) stomach cancer at age 51 at Ham Spray House, at Ham in Wiltshire.
Though Strachey spoke openly about his homosexuality with his Bloomsbury friends (he had a relationship with John Maynard Keynes, who also was part of the Bloomsbury group), it was not widely publicised until the late 1960s, in a biography by Michael Holroyd. He had an unusual relationship with the painter Dora Carrington. She loved him and they lived together from 1917 until his death. In 1921 Carrington agreed to marry Ralph Partridge, not for love but to secure the three-way relationship. She committed suicide two months after Strachey's death. Strachey himself had been much more interested sexually in Partridge, as well as in various other young men. Strachey's letters, edited by Paul Levy, were published in 2005.
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell; John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes; Lytton Strachey by Lady Ottoline Morrell
He was portrayed by Jonathan Pryce in the 1995 film Carrington. The film won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 1996, and Pryce won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance as Strachey. Lytton Strachey was also portrayed by James Fleet in the film Al sur de Granada.
Virginia Woolf's husband Leonard Woolf has said that in her experimental novel, The Waves, that "there is something of Lytton in Neville". Lytton is also said to be the inspiration behind the character of St. John Hirst in her novel The Voyage Out. Michael Holroyd also describes Strachey as the inspiration behind Cedric Furber in Wyndham Lewis' The Self-Condemned. In Wyndham Lewis' novel The Apes of God, he is seen in the character of Matthew Plunkett, whom Holroyd describes as "a maliciously distorted and hilarious caricature of Lytton". In the Terminus Note in E.M. Forster's Maurice, Forster remarks that the Cambridge undergraduate Risley in the novel is based on Strachey.
Frances Catherine Partridge CBE (née Marshall; 15 March 1900 – 5 February 2004) was a long-lived member of the Bloomsbury Group and a writer, probably best known for the publication of her diaries. She married Ralph Partridge (1894 – 30 November 1960) in 1933. The couple had one son, (Lytton) Burgo Partridge (1935–1963). (P: Writer Raymond Mortimer, Frances Partridge (then Marshall) and Dadie Rylands.)
Born in Bedford Square in London, she was the youngest of six children of William Marshall, an English architect. She lived in the square until she was eight when her father retired and they moved to the countryside. She was educated at Bedales School and Newnham College, Cambridge.
Working at a London bookshop owned by David Garnett and Francis Birrell, she became acquainted with Lytton Strachey, Dora Carrington and Ralph Partridge. In 1921, Ralph Partridge had married Dora Carrington, who was in love with Lytton Strachey, a homosexual who was himself more interested in Ralph Partridge. An added complication was Dora Carrington’s intermittent affair with one of Ralph Partridge’s best friends, Gerald Brenan. Carrington, Partridge, and Strachey shared a Wiltshire farm-house, Ham Spray, in a complex triangular relationship that was recorded in the 1995 film Carrington, with Alex Kingston playing Frances.
Ralph Partridge now fell in love with Frances. They lived in London during the week and repaired to Ham Spray at weekends. After Dora Carrington committed suicide out of grief in 1932, shortly after Lytton Strachey’s death, Ralph and Frances married on 2 March 1933. They lived happily at Ham Spray until Ralph’s death in 1960.
They had one son, (Lytton) Burgo Partridge, who was born in 1935 and named for Strachey. In 1962, Burgo married Henrietta Garnett, daughter of Angelica Garnett and David Garnett, with Henrietta already pregnant with their daughter. He died suddenly of heart failure on 7 September 1963, only three weeks after the birth of their baby, Sophie Vanessa. He had already been noticed for his writing ability, and had published one well-received book, A History of Orgies (1958).
Frances sold Ham Spray and moved to London. Her writings, her membership of the Bloomsbury circle, her great personal charm and the energy that she retained into extreme old age together ensured for her a degree of celebrity towards the end of her life.
She was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Millennium New Year Honours.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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