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November 15, 1966

“It is very doubtful that what is called Bloomsbury ever existed, but for the purposes of this lecture I have to pretend that it did,” said English novelist David Garnett, lecturing on “Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury.” A younger member of the group of English writers, theorists and artists who gathered in the London district called Bloomsbury in the early 20th century that included Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes, Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa and her husband, the artist Clive Bell, Garnett gained wide acclaim for his novel Lady into Fox, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1922.

In what Tona Johnston ’68 called in The Miscellany News “a delightful and exceptional evening,” Garnett spoke of the interests and eccentricities of the diverse group of intellectuals, ranging from pacificism, condemnation of snobbery and sexual freedom to the economist Keynes’s habit of inviting those who wished to speak with him about his ideas to do so as he was taking his bath and to Virginia Woolf’s little-known “delight in lampooning herself.” About Woolf he said, “By the time I got to know her well, she’d suffered much and was already almost middle-aged,” adding that “Everything she described was a unique experience; she never generalized, always particularized…. I was trying to write, too, making feeble experiments, and my goodness, it was exciting to read Virginia!”

The Years