Bloomsbury Group

The Bloomsbury group is the term given to a collective of writers, critics, philosophers and artists. They were predominantly active in the early twentieth century (1906-1930). The group lived and worked in the London district of Bloomsbury, which is where they got their name. The group members would meet at each other's houses and discuss art, philosophy, and aesthetics. All of the group's male members were educated at King's College, Cambridge.

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Table of contents

    The group had met through Thoby Stephens. Stephens united the male members of Cambridge with the group's women, primarily his sisters Vanessa and Virginia. The group are said to have become closer after Thoby Stephens' death in 1906. The members came from wealthy upper-middle-class families. They were supportive of each other's work, and their friendship predates their successes.

    Bloomsbury Group, Snow in Bloomsbury Square, StudySmarterThe Bloomsbury Group centred themselves in the district of Bloomsbury, London.

    Bloomsbury Group Members

    The Bloomsbury Group consisted of ten core members, with other associates sometimes known as 'Old Bloomsbury'. A lot of the members were involved in romantic relationships, and some were married, such as Virginia and Leonard Woolf. Here we will look at some of the more prominent members.


    Virginia Woolf

    One of the more well-known members of the Bloomsbury Group, Virginia Woolf was an English writer and a famous exponent of modernist literature. In 1912 she married another member of the Bloomsbury Group, Leonard Woolf. Some of Virginia Woolf's more famous works include Mrs Dalloway (1925) and Orlando (1928). Woolf was well known for using the stream of consciousness technique. Virginia Woolf struggled with mental health difficulties for most of her life and drowned herself in 1941.

    E.M Forster

    He was born on 1 January 1879 in England. E.M Forster was a writer of mostly fiction. His novels often looked closely at class distinctions in English society and colonialism. His most famous books include Howard's End (1910), A Passage to India (1914), and A Room With a View (1908). Forster was also known for his humanist views, much like other group members. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature without ever being awarded.


    Vanessa Bell

    Bell was an English post-impressionist painter born on 30 May 1879. Vanessa Bell also designed book covers for other group members, such as her sister Virginia Woolf. Vanessa married Clive Bell in 1907 but is perhaps more famous for other romantic relationships within the group, with painter Duncan Grant and critic Roger Fry. Bell's painting style was known for its bright colours and bold forms. In 1914 Vanessa Bell moved into a more abstract painting style.

    Duncan Grant

    Duncan Grant was born in Scotland on 21 January 1885. He was a painter but also worked in other mediums such as textiles and pottery. He also designed theatre sets and costumes during his long and prolific life. As a painter, Grant was known as a post-impressionist, he died on 8 May 1978, at the age of 93.

    Other members

    Clive Bell

    Born on 16 September 1881, Clive Bell was an art critic associated with formalism. Clive Bell married fellow Bloomsbury Group member Vanessa Stephens, sister of Virginia Woolf. Clive Bell was recognised for developing the art theory 'significant form'. He published a collection of his criticism Since Cezanne (1922).

    John Maynard Keynes

    John Maynard Keynes was an English economist, born on 5 June 1883. Keynes was hugely influential in his field. He has an economic theory named after his ideas, known as 'Keynesian' economics. During the great depression, John Maynard Keynes was largely credited with challenging old economic thinking. Keynes' most famous work is The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935).

    The remaining four members were:

    Roger Fry - art critic and painter

    Lytton Strachey - biographer

    Leonard Woolf - non-fiction writer and essayist

    Desmond Macarthy - literary journalist.

    Bloomsbury Group Books

    The majority of the Bloomsbury Group's literary output stemmed from its two fiction writers, Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster. Other members of the group also published notable works of non-fiction. These included John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey. Here we will look at some of the notable works published by the Bloomsbury Group.

    Mrs Dalloway

    Mrs Dalloway was written by Virginia Woolf and published in 1925. It tells the story of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she is getting ready to host a party. The novel is well-known for its unconventional narrative and use of stream-of-consciousness in which the reader weaves in and out of the characters' thoughts, focusing largely on Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Warren Smith.

    A Passage to India

    One of E.M Forster's most famous works, A Passage to India was published in 1924 and tackles racism in colonial India. A British woman, Adel Questad accuses the respectable Dr Aziz of attacking her. The case goes to trial but Adela soon withdraws her claims. The pair are unwillingly reunited two years later. The book examines racial and gender politics between the Indian and British people. The novel won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature in 1924.

    Eminent Victorians (1918)

    Eminent Victorians was written by Lytton Strachey and is a biography that looks closely at the lives of four 'eminent' Victorians. The four people that Strachey looked at were Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Arnold, and Charles George Gordon. Lytton Strachey's biography was unique at the time that it was published. Strachey chose to highlight some of his subject's more negative traits as opposed to only presenting the good they have done.

    Bloomsbury Group Origins

    Bloomsbury Group, King's College Cambridge, StudySmarterKing's College in Cambridge, where the majority of male members were educated and met.

    The male members of the Bloomsbury Group were all educated at Cambridge University. The origins of the group can be traced back to their time at Trinity and King's College. The majority of them had been known as 'apostles' of 'the society.' The 'society' was a secretive club in the university which was founded in 1820. The club would meet up and discuss important questions in the philosophy and arts of the time, much like the Bloomsbury Group would do later.

    Once the group had graduated, they decided to settle in London, specifically the district of Bloomsbury. Thoby Stephens had united the male contingent with his sisters, Vanessa and Virginia, and the group's prominent members came together. They met twice weekly in their Bloomsbury homes. Vanessa Bell would host a 'Friday Club' and Thoby Stephens would host the group on Thursday evenings, up until his death in 1906.

    Bloomsbury Group - Key Takeaways

    • The Bloomsbury Group was a collective of writers, artists, philosophers and critics who would meet often to discuss the arts.
    • Some of the more prominent members of the Bloomsbury Group included Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and E.M Forster.
    • The Bloomsbury Group were active from 1906 until the 1930s.
    • The group has its origins at Cambridge University, where many of the male members were educated.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Bloomsbury Group

    What is the Bloomsbury group famous for?

    The Bloomsbury Group were famous for promoting the arts, both visual and literary.

    What is the Bloomsbury Group?

    The Bloomsbury Group was a collective of writers, artists, philosophers and critics.

    Who were the main figures in the Bloomsbury group?

    Some of the more prominent members of the Bloomsbury Group included; Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, and E.M Forster.

    What did the Bloomsbury group do?

    The Bloomsbury Group was a collective of writers, artists, philosophers and critics who would meet often to discuss the arts.

    What year was the Bloomsbury group active?

    The Bloomsbury Group were active from 1906 until the 1930s. 

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