Selected Letters Vanessa Bell from Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries

Selected Letters Vanessa Bell from Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries
Selected Letters Vanessa Bell from Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries (click images to enlarge)

Selected Letters Vanessa Bell from Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries

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The daughter of eminent Victorian writer Sir Leslie Stephen and older sister of Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell was a well-known avant-garde painter and decorator, and a central figure in the Bloomsbury group. The collection, including many of Vanessa daily letters to her children, sister, and her lovers, takes readers from 1885 to 1961 - through more than seventy years and two world wars. Together they document Vanessa's fascinating and often romantic relationship with her sister; her domestic and aesthetic life at various houses including Gordon Square, Asheham, Cassis and Charleston; and her passionate involvements with Rodger Fry and Duncan Grant - who himself would have had an affair with the writer David Bunny Garnett, future husband of Duncan and Vanessa daughter, Angelica.

Sister of Virginia Woolf, wife of critic Clive Bell, lover of painter Duncan Grant, and an accomplished artist herself, Vanessa Bell was a mainstay of the Bloomsbury group. As was only to be expected from this unconventional little group, Vanessa's personal life was a tangle of soap-opera proportions, including an illegitimate daughter fathered by Grant but raised as her husband's and a succession of Grant's male lovers among other eccentricities. Yet she was also an oddly conventional woman in many respects, maintaining her married name long after she'd deserted her husband to live with her lover, and devoting herself to her children in a shockingly (for Bloomsbury) maternal way. Though paint on canvas was her primary modality of expression, Vanessa Bell was also a talented writer, as evidenced in the Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell.

In her introduction to the collection, editor Regina Marler writes:

To her children, her sister, her lovers, Vanessa wrote almost daily. On the whole, her reserve and shyness argued against written declarations of affection; she preferred to entertain, keeping up a teasing, ironic tone. She excelled in narratives of domestic chaos and embarrassment. She was forever spilling her inkpot down the front of her skirt, then describing the mess.
The letters selected here reflect all this and more. Writing to her friend Margery Snowden while touring Italy, she describes an elderly woman "muttering imprecations and growling at her unfortunate daughter.... Shall I shock you if I tell you of her form of oath, when her unfortunate daughter happens to offend her? 'G-d d-amn you,' she shrieks at her." Vanessa then adds, charmingly, "I think dashes may make it less shocking..." Art, literature, domestic details, and personal relationships are among the subjects Vanessa Bell touches on, and taken together, this collection provides both a self-portrait of the artist and an intimate glimpse of the remarkable circle in which she moved. --Margaret Prior

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Used Book in Good Condition