British Bohemia: At Home with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group with Dr. Alan Montgomery

British Bohemia: At Home with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group with Dr. Alan Montgomery


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A loose collective of writers, painters, and thinkers, the Bloomsbury Group were as remarkable for their bohemian lifestyles and complicated love lives as they are for the works of art and literature that they produced. In this conversation, we will visit the country houses of this bohemian art collective in order to better understand who this group was, their lives and work, and their legacy today. We’ll discuss the influential, yet controversial characters such as the writer Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell as well as artist Duncan Grant and novelist Vita Sackville-West.

The Bloomsbury Group was named after the district of London where it originally came together, but it was in the countryside of south-east England that its members found much of their inspiration. It is also there that several of their country houses have been preserved and can still be visited today. It is these houses that will be the focus of this seminar, the Bloomsbury homes that offer a unique insight into the careers, lives, and loves of their free-spirited residents. Monk’s House became the country retreat of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, while Vanessa Bell set up home with her lover Duncan Grant at nearby Charleston Farm. In many ways, it is these houses, with their eclectic furnishings and colorful wall paintings, that would become the Bloomsbury Group’s greatest legacy. Vita Sackville-West, meanwhile, was born and raised in Knole, one of England’s grandest houses, but spent her later years creating a wonderful garden amongst the romantic ruins of Sissinghurst Castle.

Led by an art historian, this interactive seminar will explore the country houses of the Bloomsbury Group, and discuss both these unique buildings and the lives and work of their inhabitants. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a deeper appreciation of one of the twentieth century’s most fascinating artistic collectives.

Alan Montgomery was born and raised in Scotland but has spent most of his adult life in London. Having achieved an MA in Art History at Glasgow University, he worked for many years in the art world at both an international auction house and an antique dealer. In recent years he has returned to academia, achieving an MA in Classical Civilisation in 2011, and has recently completed a Ph.D. in which he analyzed eighteenth-century attitudes towards the ancient Roman world. In addition to his work for Context Travel, Alan also writes catalog essays on Contemporary Art for a leading auctioneer. Elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2017, his first book, entitled 'Classical Caledonia', was published by Edinburgh University Press in August 2020.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 8 reviews
88%
(7)
13%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
A.

Dr. Montgomery's program was fabulous, and fascinating. Time just flew. His deep knowledge of and passion for his subject matter was clearly evident and captivating. His visual aids were wonderful and his approach to the Bloomsbury group via their homes a marvelous and unique approach to these fascinating figures.

A
A.

An excellent, pacy presentation which explored the complex relationships between the Bloomsbury group writers and painters, and brought their world to life through their houses and art. Packed with insights and historical facts. Enjoyable and informative.

A
A.
Bringing the Bloomsbury Group to life

An excellent, pacy presentation which explored the complex relationships between the Bloomsbury group writers and painters, and brought their world to life through their houses and art. Packed with insights and historical facts. Enjoyable and informative.

D
D.R.G.
Visually-oriented tour of homes, landscapes, and the people who created them

Dr. Montgomery offered a well-organized overview of the Bloomsbury Circle. It was engaging and moved along at a good pace. The focus was more on architectural and gardening experiments, though social elements were mentioned along the way. I enjoyed the visual aspects of the lecture. I would have wished for more discussion of the literary experiments of this group of authors and painters. Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando and its plot were mentioned, but I would have appreciated more integration of the literary with the painterly and architectural arts. Hogarth Press was mentioned, but not the reason for its existence, I would have appreciated more consideration given to what was experimental that ran through the art, architecture, landscape, and social behaviors of this group. Were they working in opposition to other available trends? What was the social and cultural context that they were trying to re-invent or eschew? Unorthodox marital and romantic relationships were mentioned, but were those based on some ideals or principles or merely a rejection of societal constraints? How might this group have responded to the Arts and Crafts movement of Socialist William Morris and others?

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

Customer Reviews

Based on 8 reviews
88%
(7)
13%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
A.

Dr. Montgomery's program was fabulous, and fascinating. Time just flew. His deep knowledge of and passion for his subject matter was clearly evident and captivating. His visual aids were wonderful and his approach to the Bloomsbury group via their homes a marvelous and unique approach to these fascinating figures.

A
A.

An excellent, pacy presentation which explored the complex relationships between the Bloomsbury group writers and painters, and brought their world to life through their houses and art. Packed with insights and historical facts. Enjoyable and informative.

A
A.
Bringing the Bloomsbury Group to life

An excellent, pacy presentation which explored the complex relationships between the Bloomsbury group writers and painters, and brought their world to life through their houses and art. Packed with insights and historical facts. Enjoyable and informative.

D
D.R.G.
Visually-oriented tour of homes, landscapes, and the people who created them

Dr. Montgomery offered a well-organized overview of the Bloomsbury Circle. It was engaging and moved along at a good pace. The focus was more on architectural and gardening experiments, though social elements were mentioned along the way. I enjoyed the visual aspects of the lecture. I would have wished for more discussion of the literary experiments of this group of authors and painters. Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando and its plot were mentioned, but I would have appreciated more integration of the literary with the painterly and architectural arts. Hogarth Press was mentioned, but not the reason for its existence, I would have appreciated more consideration given to what was experimental that ran through the art, architecture, landscape, and social behaviors of this group. Were they working in opposition to other available trends? What was the social and cultural context that they were trying to re-invent or eschew? Unorthodox marital and romantic relationships were mentioned, but were those based on some ideals or principles or merely a rejection of societal constraints? How might this group have responded to the Arts and Crafts movement of Socialist William Morris and others?

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment