In and out of Bloomsbury

Biographical essays on twentieth-century writers and artists

By Martin Ferguson Smith

In and out of Bloomsbury


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5744-7
  • Pages: 328
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2021
  • BIC Category: Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, Literary studies: from c 2000, ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945), LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / Women Authors, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Literature & literary studies / Literary essays, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: from c 1900 -


These highly original essays illuminate Virginia Woolf and a selection of other twentieth-century writers and artists. Based on detailed research and presenting previously unpublished texts, pictures, and photographs, they are notable feats of scholarly detective work.

Six of them focus on four pivotal members of the Bloomsbury Group - Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell, and Roger Fry. Prominent ingredients of their story include art, writing, friendship, love, sex, mental illness, and Greek travel. The five 'out of Bloomsbury' essays are about the 'new' letters from the novelist Rose Macaulay to the Irish poet Katharine Tynan; the prodigious teenage talents of Dorothy L. Sayers; the remarkable story of Tolkien's schoolmaster R. W. Reynolds; and the artist Tristram Hillier in Portugal.

The collection creates a richly varied and entertaining picture of British culture in the first half of the twentieth century.


'In this masterful collection of essays, he [Martin Ferguson Smith] shines a welcome new light on the oft-told stories of the Bloomsbury Group and their acquaintances, correcting errors, filling in gaps and revealing much 'new' information.'
The Times Literary Supplement

'Smith brings a depth of knowledge and a level of meticulous scholarship to these biographical essays about important literary, artistic and historical figures of the early twentieth century that would be difficult to equal, let alone surpass.'
Virginia Woolf Bulletin

'Delightfully written essays packed with revelations, many of them arising from Martin Ferguson Smith's access to hitherto unpublished sources. A scrupulously scholarly book that will be read with pleasure and astonishment from the first page to the last.'
Professor Robin Simon, editor of The British Art Journal

'Like an intrepid archaeologist carefully unearthing treasures, Martin Ferguson Smith brings to light through painstaking research all kinds of new facts about and relationships among the subjects of these fascinating essays.'
Mark Hussey, Distinguished Professor of English, Pace University, New York City, author of Clive Bell and the Making of Modernism: A Biography

'These meticulously researched essays are a testimony to the wonderful breadth and depth of Martin Ferguson Smith's scholarship. They present a wealth of colourful new material on artists and writers both famous and forgotten, at the heart as well as at the periphery of Bloomsbury. Both the specialist and the general reader will find plenty of interest here.'
Professor Odin Dekkers, former editor of English Studies


1 'New' Portraits by Roger Fry of Helen Fry and Vanessa Bell
2 A Complete Strip-off: A Bloomsbury Threesome in the Nude at Studland
3 Clive Bell's Memoir of Annie Raven-Hill (co-written with Helen Walasek)
4 'Far the Best Holiday for Years': Virginia Woolf's Second Visit to Greece
5 'Suicidal Mania' and Flawed Psychobiography: Two Discussions of Virginia Woolf
6 Virginia Woolf and 'the Hermaphrodite': A Feminist Fan of Orlando and Critic of Roger Fry
7 'I Am Afraid I Am not Irish': Letters from Rose Macaulay to Katharine Tynan
8 A Teenage Star: The Forgotten Contribution of Dorothy L. Sayers to a Pageant
9 'She Had Quite Unusual Gifts': Dorothy L. Sayers at School
10 The Secret Love-Child of an American Civil War Commander: The Strange Story of
Tolkien's Schoolteacher
11 'A land pre-eminently to inspire a painter': Tristram Hillier's first visit to Portugal
Details of original publications


Martin Ferguson Smith is Professor Emeritus of Classics at Durham University

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout