Ottoline Morrell: Life on the Grand Scale

Miranda Seymour, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $30 (451p) ISBN 978-0-374-22818-7
Admitting to great admiration for her subject, Seymour ( Ring of Conspirators: Henry James and His Circle ) has nonetheless written a fully realized study of Ottoline Morrell (1873-1938), famed British patron of the arts. Morrell was satirized in print for her striking dress and extravagant personality, but, as Seymour recounts, the same writers who caricaturized her style accepted her financial support and flocked to her literary salons. Her frequent guests included T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence (who used Morrell as the model for Hermione Roddice in Women in Love ). Seymour's access to her subject's letters and diaries enables her to draw a detailed picture of Morrell's lengthy love affair with philosopher Bertrand Russell, provide a rich account of her life at Garsington--the country retreat used to house conscientious objectors during WW I--and share sharp observations of such Bloomsbury stalwarts as Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolfe. Illustrations not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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