Shakespeare in Bloomsbury The untold story of Shakespeare’s profound influence on Virginia Woolf and the rest of the Bloomsbury Group
For the men and women of the Bloomsbury Group, Shakespeare was a constant presence and a creative benchmark. Not only the works they intended for publication—the novels, biographies, economic and political writings, stage designs and reviews—but also their diaries and correspondence, their gossip and small talk turned regularly on Shakespeare. They read his plays for pleasure in the evenings, and on sunny summer afternoons in the country. They went to the theater, discussed performances, and speculated about Shakespeare’s mind. As poet, as dramatist, as model and icon, as elusive “life,” Shakespeare haunted their imaginations and made his way, through phrase, allusion, and oblique reference, into their own lives and art.
This is a book about Shakespeare in Bloomsbury — about the role Shakespeare played in the lives of a charismatic and influential cast, including Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes and Lydia Lopokova Keynes, Desmond and Molly MacCarthy, and James and Alix Strachey. All are brought to sparkling life in Marjorie Garber’s intimate account of how Shakespeare provided them with a common language, a set of reference points, and a model for what they did not hesitate to call genius. Among these brilliant friends, Garber shows, Shakespeare was in effect another, if less fully acknowledged, member of the Bloomsbury Group.
Read the WSJ’s book review and listen to Folger Shakespeare Library’s talk with Marjorie Garber, Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 221.