Wednesday, 2 December 2009


A couple Bloomsbury Group (Virginia et al, rather than Bloomsbury publishing) things to mention today - one being the CD I got from Our Vicar and Our Vicar's Wife for Christmas. I think it was my friend Lyn in Australia who first mentioned this to me - thus creating something of a circle, since the CD is released by the British Library. Click this link to buy it (no, no commission for me...) It's basically lots of clips of Bloomsbury Group people speaking, and those who knew them well. A lot come from a radio broadcast on Virginia Woolf, but it also has previously unreleased recordings, and is a great resource to have in one place. Entertaining and useful - and unique. I don't know about you, but I rarely have an author's voice in my head when I'm reading. I certainly wouldn't be able to read Mrs. Dalloway with Virginia Woolf's actual, very posh, tones pulsating through my mind - but, nevertheless, it is fascinating to hear what they sound like. Just hearing the voices is so interesting - for the most part, they are also talking about the Bloomsbury Group, which would be captivating in itself.

Some names for you - alongside Virginia, there is everyone you can think of. Here are just a few: Elizabeth Bowen, Vita Sackville-West, EM Forster, Frances Patridge, Leonard Woolf, Harold Nicolson, Bertrand Russell, Vanessa Bell, David Cecil, John Maynard Keynes, David Garnett, Duncan Grant, Clive Bell.... oh, everyone. And then you also get people like Nellie Boxhall and Grace Higgins, servants of people in the Bloomsbury Group - another fascinating angle. Let's just say that Nellie's voice would give a lot of people now considered 'posh' a run for their money.

One of the people featured whom I haven't mentioned is Angelica Garnett. I wrote a rather hazy review of Deceived with Kindness a while ago - in fact, it's on my 50 Books... list, though it's not my best review (and led to one of the funniest comments I've received - I usually don't publish the mean-spirited ones, but this one was too amusing to ignore). Having loved her autobiography, I was very keen to get hold of The Unspoken Truth, 'A Quartet of Bloomsbury Stories' which is coming out in January with Chatto & Windus. I sent them a begging letter, and it is now by my bed. Can't wait to read this lot - fictional, but apparently heavily based on fact. I must confess I didn't realise Angelica Garnett was still alive, so I was doubly excited - I'll let you know what I think around the publication date. But, always important, the cover is beautiful...


  1. oh my. I can't even begin to tell you how much I want that CD. And to come to England to buy it. I'll have to get working on that. xo

  2. What a lovely CD that would be to own. I'm a bit jealous. I've just finished reading a novel about Virginia and Vita and her gardens at Sissinghurst Castle, The White Garden by Stephanie Barron. I enjoyed it immensely and love the idea of hearing their voices.

  3. Oh, Sandra, I hadn't heard of that novel - I'm off to investigate!

  4. What a delightful cover indeed! I think that looks gorgeous. I popped and had a look at the comment on your other post... anonymous sounds a bit of a one! Your response made me laugh.

    That CD sounds very interesting, an eye is out for that now. My Gran would like that too. Isn't it a bit early for opening Christmas presents?

  5. obviously, I ADORE all things Bloomsbury related and had spotted the British Library CD which went straight onto my wish list for Father Christmas!
    Have you been to Charleston? It is a must see for any Bloomsbury lover.

  6. That looks brilliant! I used to have a CD with loads of recordings of poets reading their work aloud, and it was just the coolest thing. I liked Robert Browning best - he sounds like such a dear! - and it was interesting to hear how other poets sounded quite different to how I imagined them. Langston Hughes had quite a nasal voice, and Dorothy Parker rather a grandmotherly one. Strange!


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