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Description - Sketches in Pen and Ink by Vanessa Bell

Vanessa Bell, artist, sister of Virginia Woolf, wife of Clive Bell and lover of Duncan Grant, is one of the most fascinating and modern figures of the Bloomsbury set, but unlike most of them she rarely put pen to writing paper. When she did, she was witty and illuminating about their early lives. The eldest of the Stephen family, she grew up with Virginia in Victorian gloom at Hyde Park Gate and later blossomed in bohemian style in Bloomsbury. From the twenties to the forties she lived and painted at Charleston Farmhouse like a heroine of the sixties and seventies, at the centre of a colourful world of family, friends, artists and intellectuals. Sketches in Pen and Ink is a unique collection of largely unpublished memoirs - most of them written to be read at meetings of the Memoir club, in which Vanessa writes with wit and charm about herself, her childhood, her remarkable family and friends, her moving relationship with Roger Fry, and her art. Her daughter, Angelica Garnett, has written a vivid and personal introduction which adds considerably to our understanding of this extraordinary woman and artist.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712666039
ISBN-10: 0712666036
Format: Paperback
(186mm x 135mm x 13mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Pimlico
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 5-Nov-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Sketches in Pen and Ink by Vanessa Bell

Book Reviews - Sketches in Pen and Ink by Vanessa Bell

UK Kirkus Review » These lively, spontaneous pen-portraits describe the author's family life, her painting, Roger Fry and the Post Impressionists. Bell's daughter Angelica Garnett contributes a short biography and the editor, Giachero, adds an essay on Bell's art. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A playful, illuminating collection of autobiographical essays by the painter and admitted "Queen Bee" of the Bloomsbury group. Within the hallowed circle of Bloomsbury, the Memoir Club was formed as a way that members could keep informed about each other's lives. Not specifically intended for publication, the essays were written by friends for friends, and offer gentle insight on the complex relationships that permeated Bloomsbury's core. Bell, although loath to compete with her sister Virginia Woolf in any way, did write half a dozen essays. In the decades since, they languished, largely forgotten, until a young art historian named Lia Giachero met Angelica Garnett, Vanessa Bell's daughter by the painter Duncan Grant, and undertook to edit and publish the best. The results are captured in this slim collection that illustrates Bloomsbury from within. One might expect revelations, but unfortunately, some of the more vivid aspects of Bell's life, such as her extramarital affair with art critic Roger Fry and later with Grant, are left out. Only one essay deals with the subject of Bell's relationship to Fry, and it's marked by silences that appear in the text as literal omissions: Bell was not averse to simply cutting things out. Even truncated, however, her fluid and witty essays convey much of the wry delight that the members of Bloomsbury took in one another and in questioning the social codes and sexual mores of their era. Although Sketches in Pen and Ink contains only six essays and one public-school speech, they nonetheless manage to trace Bell's development from childhood to adulthood, as well as her dawning awareness of what it meant to have been a part of Bloomsbury's rare enclave. Simple, unpretentious, and often humorous, Bell's essays offer an exhilarating glimpse of Bloomsbury's artistic freedom won from the grip of the Victorian past. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Vanessa Bell

Vanessa Bell was born on the 30 May 1879. The sister of Virginia Woolf she was educated at home by her parents in languages, mathematics and history, and took drawing lessons from Ebenezer Cook before she attended Sir Arthur Cope's art school in 1896, and then studied painting at the Royal Academy in 1901. She married Clive Bell in 1907 and they had two sons together. The couple had an open marriage during which Vanessa Bell had affairs with art critic Roger Fry and with the painter Duncan Grant, with whom she had a daughter, Angelica in 1918. She died in 1961.