Young Bloomsbury: The Generation That Redefined Love, Freedom, and Self-Expression in 1920s England (Paperback)
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An “illuminating” (Daily Mail, London) exploration of the second generation of the iconic Bloomsbury Group who inspired their elders to new heights of creativity and passion while also pushing the boundaries of sexual freedom and gender norms in 1920s England.
In the years before the First World War, a collection of writers and artists—Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, and Lytton Strachey among them—began to make a name for themselves in England and America for their irreverent spirit and provocative works of literature, art, and criticism. They called themselves the Bloomsbury Group and by the 1920s, they were at the height of their influence.
Then a new generation stepped forward—creative young people who tantalized their elders with their captivating looks, bold ideas, and subversive energy. Young Bloomsbury introduces us to this colorful cast of characters, including novelist Eddy Sackville-West, who wore elaborate make-up and dressed in satin and black velvet; artist Stephen Tomlin, who sculpted the heads of his male and female lovers; and author Julia Strachey, who wrote a searing tale of blighted love. Talented and productive, these larger-than-life figures had high-achieving professional lives and extremely complicated emotional lives.
The group had always celebrated sexual equality and freedom in private, feeling that every person had the right to live and love in the way they chose. But as transgressive self-expression became more public, this younger generation gave Old Bloomsbury a new voice. Revealing an aspect of history not yet explored and with “effervescent detail” (Juliet Nicolson, author of Frostquake), Young Bloomsbury celebrates an open way of living and loving that would not be embraced for another hundred years.
About the Author
Nino Strachey is the last member of the Strachey family to have grown up at Sutton Court in Somerset, home of the family for more than three hundred years. After studying at Oxford University and the Courtauld Institute, Nino worked as a curator for the National Trust and English Heritage. She is also the author of Rooms of Their Own. She lives in West London with her husband and child. Follow her on Twitter @NinoStrachey.
“Illuminating… When it came to sex, the Bright Young Things of the 1920s were 100 years ahead of their time.” — Daily Mail (UK)
“A superb, sparky and reflective book charting the doings of the younger members of the artistic and intellectual coterie.” —The Spectator (UK)
“This witty, fascinating book is a delight. Read it.” —Miriam Margolyes
“Young Bloomsbury just BRIMS with the same kind of sexy vitality embodied by the characters Nino Strachey describes in such effervescent detail. Just when you might have wondered if there could possibly be room for a new and revealing study of a group of lives which have been so meticulously and extensively documented, Nino's exhilarating lens offers an entirely original and thrilling focus. As skepticism, admiration, envy, and confusion ebb and flow between one chattering, seductive, thinking, inspiring generation and another, this is Gatsby made real.”—Juliet Nicolson, author of Frostquake: The frozen winter of 1962
“With a deft turn of the Bloomsbury kaleidoscope, and an impressive gift for finding treasures in the archives, Nino Strachey reveals colorful new patterns of experiments in living which speak trenchantly to our own cultural moment.” —Mark Hussey, author of Clive Bell and the Making of Modernism
“Great fun and, for all fans of the Bloomsbury Group, enormously informative - like being transported back to ‘dancing the night hours away underground in the pitch dark and smoke-filled avant-garde nightclubs of that day,’ you never know who you're going to meet.” —Simon Fenwick, author of The Crichel Boys
“Above all else, Bloomsbury was a liberating force, as Nino Strachey shows in her sparkling new book. The younger friends and relations of the Bells, Stracheys and Woolfs lived, worked and loved freely, finding their own ways to personal and artistic fulfilment. This book is packed with their brilliant, subversive energy” —Anne Chrisholm, author of Frances Partridge: A Biography
“A lively account of a group of bright young things in the 1920s. A hundred years ahead of their time, these creative souls were pushing the boundaries of gender identity and sexual expression, and - surprisingly - finding acceptance among their friends and families.” —Robert Sackville-West, author of The Searchers: The Quest for the Lost of the First World War
“This lively group biography offers an intimate glimpse of the Bright Young Things, the artistic coterie that emerged in the nineteen-twenties as successors to the prewar Bloomsburyites.” —The New Yorker
“This captivating history explores the second generation of queer British writers and artists who pushed the original Bloomsbury Group, which included Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, to live more publicly and go farther creatively.” —The New York Times
“There is much for Americans to learn from and celebrate in this lively account of Bloomsbury’s freethinking pioneers.” —Washington Post
“A brisk, light tonic. . . . [Strachey] provides frothy accounts of their gatherings. . . . For each rising generation there’s reason to illuminate again their particular, if fleeting, triumphs.” —Claire Mussud, Harper’s Magazine
“It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the story of Bloomsbury is the story of modern literary biography itself.” —Wall Street Journal
“In this sharp, thoughtful look at the group, their work, and its impact, Nino Strachey shines a light on cultural masterminds whose lives and work would change the world forever.” —Town & Country
“The author’s group portrait is both enlightening and fond…and does literature a great favor by gifting them with this fascinating account.” —Booklist
“Insightfully analyzes the substance of Bloomsbury’s social network, how their lives intertwined as a kind of queer chosen family, and how they adapted to heteronormative expectations while remaining true to their desires and identities…Written in lucid prose, this is a dream to read for those interested in queer history.” —Kirkus