Garsington Revisited: The Legend of Lady Ottoline Morrell Brough Up-to-Date

Garsington Revisited: The Legend of Lady Ottoline Morrell Brough Up-to-Date

Garsington Revisited: The Legend of Lady Ottoline Morrell Brough Up-to-Date

Garsington Revisited: The Legend of Lady Ottoline Morrell Brough Up-to-Date

Synopsis

Lady Ottoline Morrell was the foremost host of the Bloomsbury set, offering sustenance and friendship to Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, TS Eliot, DH Lawrence, Duncan Grant and her lover Bertrand Russell, to name but a few. This book is a revised and updated edition of the author's original biography of Ottoline first published in 1975 worldwide. It has been updated, with vignettes about her sources, including lunch at Charleston with Duncan Grant, and a ship's tumbler of sherry with David Garnett as a prelude to discussing "skeletons in Ottoline's cupboard"). Her sources in Texas where she read more than 8,000 letters to Ottoline including 2,500 letters from Bertrand Russell, can now be located in new footnotes. Darroch remains as impressed as ever by Ottoline's courage and determination to forgo the comfortable life of an aristocrat to mix with - and champion - some of the 20th century's leading artists and writers. The definitive biography.

Excerpt

Four decades have now passed since I wrote OttolineThe Life of Lady Ottoline Morrell (published in New York in 1975 and in London in 1976). I explain below the unusual circumstances of how this came about. It was to be the first biography of one of the 20 century’s most exotic literary figures, and only the second “Bloomsbury biography”, following Michael Holroyd’s 1967 life of Lytton Strachey. Since then much has been written about the literary and artistic milieu in which Ottoline cut such an outstanding figure, and in which she became a catalyst for some of the century’s most important literature (in which she herself sometimes played a leading role). It was time, I felt, to revisit my biography, and tell about the people - almost all of them now dead - whom I was fortunate to meet and obtain their first-hand accounts of Ottoline and her circle. So, interposed throughout this revised-and-updated text, I have added a number of interludes and vignettes about people I interviewed, places I visited, and the progress of my research from 1972 to 1975. More interestingly perhaps - because of the time that has elapsed - I am now able to be more forthcoming about what I learnt “in confidence” from some of these encounters (such as what David Garnett told me about what he called “the skeletons in Ottoline’s cupboard”).

I was only in my twenties when, back in the 1970s, I began delving into Ottoline’s life (as I describe below). So I thought that it would be useful now to look back on Ottoline and her world from the perspective of today and the values of the present era. I wrote my original biography at an exciting moment in biography. With his Lytton Strachey, Holroyd had broken through the barriers of prissy, old-fashioned biography, leaving hagiography in his wake, and ushering in a new world of candid truthfulness . . .

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