Background[ edit ] Strachey developed the idea for Eminent Victorians in , when he was living on occasional journalism and writing dilettante plays and verse for his Bloomsbury friends. He went to live in the country at East Ilsley and started work on a book then called Victorian Silhouettes containing miniature biographies of a dozen notable Victorian personalities. In November he wrote to Virginia Woolf that their Victorian predecessors "seem to me a set of mouth bungled hypocrites". After his research into the life of Cardinal Manning , he realised he would have difficulty managing twelve lives. In the following year he moved to Wiltshire where he stayed until , by which time he had completed half the book. He chose not to write about her because he could not find sufficient material about her.

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She thought that Lytton had the potential to become a great artist so she decided that he would receive the best education possible in order to be "enlightened. He told his mother how much he liked dressing as a woman in real life to confuse and entertain others. Strachey, who always had a fragile physique, objected to this requirement and after few months he was transferred to Leamington College , where he became a victim of savage bullying.

His health also seems to have improved during the three years he spent at Leamington, although various illnesses continued to plague him.

When Strachey turned seventeen, in , Lady Strachey decided that he was ready to leave school and go to university, but because she thought he was too young for Oxford she decided that he should first attend a smaller institution, the University of Liverpool.

There Strachey befriended the Professor of Modern Literature, Walter Raleigh , who, besides being his favourite teacher, also became the most influential figure in his life before he went up to Cambridge.

He did not, however, take leave of Trinity, but remained until October , to work on a thesis that he hoped would gain him a fellowship. With another undergraduate, A. Robertson, these students formed a group called the Midnight Society, which, in the opinion of Clive Bell, was the source of the Bloomsbury Group.

The Apostles formulated an elitist doctrine of "Higher Sodomy" which differentiated the homosexual acts of the intelligent from those of "ordinary" men. Strachey also became acquainted with other men who greatly influenced him, including G. Even though the letters of recommendation written for him by those under whom he had studied showed that he was held in high esteem at Cambridge, he failed to get the appointment and decided to try for a fellowship at Trinity College. Beginnings[ edit ] After Strachey left Cambridge in , his mother assigned him a bed-sitting room at 69 Lancaster Gate.

After the family moved to 67 Belsize Gardens in Hampstead , and later to another house in the same street, he was assigned other bed-sitters.

In this period he also lived for a while in a cottage on Dartmoor and about —12 spent a whole winter at East Ilsley on the Berkshire Downs. During this time he decided to grow a beard, which became his most characteristic feature.

Its colour is very much admired, and it is generally considered extremely effective, though some ill-bred persons have been observed to laugh. It is a red-brown of the most approved tint, and makes me look like a French decadent poet—or something equally distinguished. Lytton Strachey, —12 In H. Fisher , a former President of the British Academy and of the Board of Education, was in search of someone to write a short one-volume survey of French literature.

Despite almost a full column of praise in The Times Literary Supplement of 1 February and sales that by April had reached nearly 12, copies in the British Empire and America, the book brought Strachey neither the fame he craved nor the money he badly needed. He lived there until and it was there that he wrote the first three parts of Eminent Victorians. From to Strachey contributed book and theatre reviews to The Spectator.

Under the pseudonym "Ignotus", he also published a number of drama reviews. During the First World War, Strachey applied for recognition as a conscientious objector , but in the event he was granted exemption from military service on health grounds.

He spent much of the war with like-minded people such as Lady Ottoline Morrell and the Bloomsburys. Unlike any biography of its time, Eminent Victorians examines the career and psychology of historical figures by using literary devices such as paradox, antithesis, hyperbole, and irony. This work was followed by another in the same style, Queen Victoria This was his home for the rest of his life. Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey at Ham Spray Dora Carrington , the painter, and Strachey participated in a lifelong, open, loving but platonic relationship, and they eventually established a permanent home together at Ham Spray House, where Carrington would paint and Strachey would educate her in literature.

Partridge eventually formed a relationship with Frances Marshall, another Bloomsbury member. Partridge married Frances Marshall in


Lytton Strachey

But the truth was different. The Miss Nightingale of fact was not as facile fancy painted her. She worked in another fashion, and towards another end; she moved under the stress of an impetus which finds no place in the popular imagination. A Demon possessed her. Now demons, whatever else they may be, are full of interest. And so it happens that in the real Miss Nightingale there was more that was interesting than in the legendary one; there was also less that was agreeable.


Eminent Victorians


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