Saturday, March 18, 2006


Famous Men & Fair Women

This week's TLS reviews Rutger University Press's publication of a selection from Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell's family albums, Snapshots of Bloomsbury:

They are full of vanished details of the way life was lived – low deckchairs, pipes, hats, round spectacles, strap shoes – and of intriguing bits of byplay: all the adolescent children look as though they wished they were not in the family group; George Duckworth, as Hermione Lee has pointed out, always seems to be standing too close to people; Vivienne Eliot is pointing at her husband in a slightly dotty way. And, once they are provided with a biographical context, reading the photographs seems almost too easy. Some appear particularly revealing: what Humm calls the “primal scene” of Woolf at Talland House at the age of ten, looking out at the camera, almost hidden behind her parents who are concentrating on their books...
Curiously, Woolf herself also wrote about period photography: she penned an introduction to Julia Margaret Cameron's 1926 book Victorian Photographs of Famous Men and Fair Women.

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