Bombay to Bloomsbury : A Biography of the Strachey Family: A Biography of the Strachey Family

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Oxford University Press, UK, Feb 24, 2005 - History - 528 pages
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The Stracheys were an exceptionally intelligent and unusual family. Prominent in imperial administration, science, and feminism in the nineteenth century, and in the suffrage movement, women's education, and the bringing of new approaches to sexuality in the twentieth century, they had a wide and significant influence. Examining Lytton Strachey, his parents and nine siblings, Barbara Caine provides a fascinating picture of a diverse and complex family in a period of change from Victorian England to the beat generation. - ;The Stracheys were an exceptionally intelligent and unusual family, prominent in imperial administration, science, and feminism in the nineteenth century, and in the suffrage movement, women's education, and the bringing of new approaches to sexuality in the twentieth century. The Strachey Family examines the lives of Lytton Strachey, a well-known member of the Bloomsbury set, his nine siblings, and his parents. Richard Strachey worked in India, marrying Jane, the daughter of the Indian Chief Justice, in 1859. A successful imperial couple, they were progressive, following the ideas of Auguste Comte and J. S. Mill, and the teachings of science. Their ten children were born over a period of 27 years and reflect the development and changes in a Victorian society moving to modernity. The richness of their letters provides a fascinating picture of a large, complex, and diverse family where attitudes to the family name, gender tensions, differing views on sexuality, ideas on modernity, and varying degrees of support for feminism all played a part. Dick Strachey, the eldest son, had an unsuccessful military career in India but a loving marriage, whereas Oliver announced to horrified parents that he wished to learn the piano and give music lessons, eventually finding success as a code-breaker in both world wars. Elinor, married to a man of wealth and position, devoted her life exclusively to family and social life, whilst Ralph, Chief Surveyor in India, married a woman who suffered emotional and nervous collapses and was unable to manage a family. Pippa, a full-time suffrage organizer and, in all but name, head of the family, combined the Victorian devoted single daughter with the twentieth century independent career woman, and James, a homosexual in adolescence, married Alix, one of the Bloomsbury cropheads who embraced sexual experimentation, psychoanalysis, and new patterns of domestic life. The remaining children, including Lytton, all had lives no less absorbing, and it is the examination of these lives, as well as relating the issues which they faced to wider society, which make Barbara Caine's study so captivating and intriguing. - ;Bombay to Bloomsbury provides grippingly readable insight into British history between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries through the life histories of this extraordinary family. - Pat Thane, BBC History Magazine;Its broad sweep of connecting ideas and its revealing and often amusing detail of the lives of the less well-known Stracheys. - Sarah Curtis, TLS;That biography and history can be fruitful friends is brilliantly demonstrated in Barbara Caine's new book about the Strachey family. - The Guardian;Sterling work, meticulous research, something of great value. - Sunday Times

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About the author (2005)


Barbara Caine is Professor of History at Monash University, Australia.

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