‘Your letters are a great pleasure. I lap them down with breakfast and they do me more good than tonics, blood capsules or iron jelloids’ Lytton Strachey
Dora Carrington was considered an outsider to Bloomsbury, but she lived right at its heart. Known only by her surname, she was the star of her year at the Slade School of Fine Art, but never achieved the fame her early career promised. For over a decade she was the companion of homosexual writer Lytton Strachey, and killed herself, stricken without him, when he died in 1932. She was also a prolific and exuberant correspondent.
Carrington was not consciously a pioneer or a feminist, but in her determination to live life according to her own nature – especially in relation to her work, her passionate friendships and her fluid attitude to sex, gender and sexuality – she fought battles that remain familiar and urgent today. She was friends with the greatest minds of the day and her correspondence stars a roster of fascinating characters – Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Rosamund Lehmann, Maynard Keynes to name but a few.
Carrington’s Letters introduces the maverick artist and compelling personality to a new generation for the first time with fresh correspondence never before published. Unmediated, passionate, startlingly honest and very playful, reading Carrington’s letters is like having her whisper in your ear and embrace you gleefully.
Dora Carrington was born in 1893 in Hereford. At seventeen she enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art, part of an extraordinary generation of painters including Mark Gertler and Paul and John Nash. She painted her friends, her house, her animals, her furniture and designed jackets for books published by Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Hogarth Press. She was the long-time companion of writer Lytton Strachey, though in 1921 she married Ralph Partridge, who joined her and Lytton in a largely harmonious ménage à trois. In 1932, after the death of Strachey from cancer, she committed suicide, aged thirty-eight.
Anne Chisholm is a biographer and critic who has also worked in journalism and publishing. She has written biographies of Nancy Cunard, which won the Silver PEN Prize for non-fiction, Lord Beaverbrook (with Michael Davie) which was runner-up for the Hawthornden Prize, and, most recently, of the diarist and Bloomsbury insider Frances Partridge, which was shortlisted for the Marsh Biography Award. She is a former chair and now vice president of the Royal Society of Literature.