The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

May 30, 2017

May 30, 1879

Janet Malcolm opines that without Vanessa Stephens's drive she and her siblings would never have set up an home of their own, nor their Thursday parties, without which, memorable art might never have been created. The latter anyway was Virginia's assessment of their Thursday salons, that they were: "as far as I am concerned the germ from which sprang all that has since come to be the name of Bloomsbury." The quote comes from Malcolm's June 5, 1995, New Yorker article: "A House of One's Own." The long article is about Vanessa Bell (May 30, 1879 to April 7, 1961). Malcolm is as interested in her son, Quentin Bell, calling his biography of his aunt, "extraordinary." That is Janet MALCOLM's opinion.

A large photograph of the sitting room at Charleston, Vanessa, and Duncan Grant's country home, is prominent in Malcolm's article. About the scene: "Vanessa and Duncan's ubiquitous decorations extend the sense of the house as a place of incessant, calm productivity." In the middle of the fireplace mantel, a statue of a sitting lion, could be overlooked were it not for the central placement. There were real cats at Charleston, too,

And of course the Bloomsbury inhabitants cannot be disentangled. She cites Vanessa's son as encapsulating the essence of 'Bloomsbury', the attitude that, in E. M. Forster's words, "...[those] I admire most ...are sensitive and want to create something, or discover something, and do not see life in terms of power....[Heralding] an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky."

And does this not apply better to Vanessa, than Virginia.

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