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Vanessa Bell

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Vanessa Bell was a central figure within the Bloomsbury Group
and lent to it a stability and coherence it might otherwise have
lacked. A talented artist, she held sway with her acuity, integrity
and a sense of humour. Yet she remained inscrutable, glimpses
of her life only appearing through her sister, Virginia Woolf. In this authorised biography, Frances Spalding draws upon a
Published December 31st 1983 by George Weidenfeld & Nicholson (first published September 1979)
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4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  117 ratings  ·  11 reviews

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Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Very good biography of a central figure in the Bloomsbury Group. Not an easy read as there is great detail and a lot of information. Vanessa Bell was Virginia Woolf's sister; her talent lay in art rather than writing. She married Clive Bell and for many years continued an affair with Roger Fry. She also had a very close relationship with Duncan Grant. Her unorthodox life and its effect on those around her is well documented. Her relationship with her daughter in later life is interesting as she ...more
Beth Bonini
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, biography
A few personal notes, to give context to my reading of this book:
I purchased my copy of Spalding's biography during my visit to Charleston on May 4, 2016. Initially published in 1983, Spalding's study of Vanessa Bell's life and work was the first to be totally devoted to this hitherto "silent" member of the original Bloomsbury Group. Spalding does an admirable job of demonstrating that VB's personality and domestic gifts and strong individualistic sense was at the very core of the Bloomsbury Gro
Duncan M Simpson
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Vanessa Bell was at the centre of the Bloomsbury group and more than any of the others lived in squares and loved in a triangle. She also lived at Charleston Farm at the foot of the South Downs and visiting there pushed me to pick up this book.

I was left with an enigma, a stoical woman whose love was returned but in very different measures and whose art I had overlooked. Frances Spalding has written a classical biography, easy to read, measured and balanced its views and following the chronology
Robert Dodds
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have rarely enjoyed a biography as much as this one. Vanessa Bell and the other Bloomsbury-ites were evidently prolific letter writers, and so Frances Spalding had a wealth of material to draw upon. The result is an intimate portrait of Bell's life in both its professional and personal aspects - the latter being the more fascinating of course! My interest in the Bloomsbury group came via literature rather than painting - the works of Bell's sister Virginia Woolf obviously, but also E.M. Forste ...more
Nicola Pierce
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh but I did not want to finish this but was unable to stop turning the pages as fast as I could. A wonderful, engaging read in every way. Spalding had a tremendous subject in Vanessa Bell and her research and delivery is impeccable. And now I sit here bereft and unsure as to what to read next. Also, I absolutely have to visit Charleston House and garden at some stage!
Nov 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
A little on the dry side but Bell is an interesting enough person that you keep reading. Virginia Woolf's sister she married Clive Bell and had two kids and she had affairs and spent most of her life with the love of her life (whom she also had a child with who went on to marry one of her father's former lovers...), the gay artist Duncan Grant, while never divorcing her husband.

Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
I have read and re-read this portrait of Vanessa Bell. It is a fascinating study of Bell's family, including her sister Virginia Woolf, of the Bloomsbury group, and of the wonderful work done by the Omega Workshop-- the Arts and Crafts collective founded by Bell and her cohorts.
Linda Mason Hunter
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Fascinating glimpse into the life of one of the most famous Bloomsbury artists, Virginia Woolf's sister,
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It is biography at his best, full of details and deeply (and also emotionally, sorta) involved in the long life of a passionate woman and artist.
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The Bloomsbury Gr...: Vanessa Bell’s Hogarth Press Designs on Exhibit 8 9 Nov 16, 2015 08:03AM