Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War

Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War

Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War

Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War

Synopsis

Julian Bell explores the life of a younger member, and sole poet, of the Bloomsbury Group, the most important community of British writers and intellectuals in the twentieth century, which includes Virginia Woolf (Julian's aunt), E. M. Forster, the economist John Maynard Keynes, and the art critic Roger Fry. This biography draws upon the expanding archives on Bloomsbury to present Julian's life more completely and more personally than has been done previously. It is an intense and profound exploration of personal, sexual, intellectual, political, and literary life in England between the two world wars. Through Julian, the book provides important insights on Virginia Woolf, his mother Vanessa Bell, and other members of the Bloomsbury Group. Taking us from London to China to Spain during its civil war, the book is also the ultimately heartbreaking story of one young man's life.

Excerpt

More than forty years after the original publication of Journey to the Frontier—William Abrahams’s and my life of both John Cornford and Julian Bell—I decided to return to a reconsideration of the life of Julian Bell. I have observed with admiration that Sir Michael Holroyd has published subsequent versions of his great life of Lytton Strachey. (It originally appeared just after the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain; hence now all could be told.) So did Noel Annan in the case of his intellectual biography of Sir Leslie Stephen. No doubt others have issued revised and expanded versions of a biography written earlier. But up to now I felt that I shouldn’t revise an already published text. Also, if a new version were to be done, it would have to be on my own, as my coauthor had died in 1998. It would still, however, be his book as well.

My attitude towards the question of a new version changed in the summer of 2004. The previous year I had published Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip and Sybil. If less literary than some of my previous work, and far less concerned with radical figures, it combined my interests in society, politics, and art with a comparatively new interest in Anglo-Jewry. Now I was at work on quite a different project: the Blitz. While in England in the summer of 2004, doing . . .

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