An absolutely wonderful chronicle of artistic life in London among the 'bohemians' (everyone from the Bloomsbury set to Dylan Thomas) from 1900 to 1939. All aspects of bohemian, artistic society are examined: attitudes to love, children (the descriptions of the education of Augustus John's children is particularly good), travel, food, furnishings, and bohemian socialising. Nicholson spreads her net wide, embracing all sorts of artists and writers, from her own grandmother Vanessa Bell, and other 'Bloomsbury' members including Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, David Garnett, Carrington and Lytton Strachey, to Augustus John and his vast family, to the philosopher Edward Carpenter, the sculptor Eric Gill, Dylan and Caitlin Thomas and many less famous but still very interesting people, including Kathleen Hale (author of the 'Orlando the Marmalade Cat' book series, which I grew up with!), the poetess and one-time musician Anna Wickham, the writer Gerald Brenan, Lawrence's one-time lover Rosalind Thornycroft Bayes, and lots more. This is a book that makes you want to read on and on about some of the people mentioned, and I ended up buying several biographies of artists discussed by Nicholson. Nicholson also talks very intelligently about art, music and fiction at the time, and gives interesting accounts of various novels and travel books written during the early 20th century. The writing style is superb: full of fascinating information, but never dry or overly erudite. A superb guide to artistic life in England for the first 30 or so years of the 20th century. I'm looking forward to reading Nicholson's next book, 'Singled Out', and her husband William Nicholson's novels next.
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