The Bloomsbury Group

A group of writers, artists, intellectuals and philosophers whose most famous members included the likes of Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry and Lytton Stratchey. Although they weren’t organised by any formal structure, each member of the group was united with the others through an abiding faith in the importance of the arts; although the factions of the group were constantly shifting and changing, the artistic output and theory produced by the Bloomsbury Group in the 1920s and 30s had a great impact on the broader cultural atmosphere of Britain, especially London.

The group is often understood in terms of its high modernist attributes: all of the male members of the ‘Bloomsbury Set’ were members of the educated at Cambridge, bar Duncan Grant, and the group’s meetings were often known as ‘Cambridge in London’. The group was made up almost exclusively of upper middle-class professional families, forming what was often felt to be an intellectual aristocracy. Of the women within the group, Virginia Woolf is particularly renowned for her difficult prose and obtuse style; both the intertextuality of her novels and her highly stylistic form lend her texts an air of inaccessibility.

The group was characterised by a certain liberalness, both in its politics and attitudes to sex. Take for example the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, a member and an associate of the group respectively. Their affair was not unique, and through the years most of the members of this group engaged in relationships and affairs with one another. These affairs, as in the case of Virginia and Vita, served as inspiration for later works, Orlando being a prime example.

The Hypatia collection includes a variety of materials relating to the groups, including biographies of key figures, photographs and portraits, diaries and letters, as well as written works. 

Zara Ismail

Angharad Miller