Bloomsbury and Bohemia

654 TUTOR: Wayne Bennett (MA)

Love or revile them, members of the Bloomsbury coterie were at the vanguard of cultural change at the beginning of the 20thcentury. They were part of a larger revolt against the strictures and conformities of Victorian society and this general phenomenon will be explored in some detail. Bohemian London will be under the spotlight and you will be appalled and delighted in equal measure. The lives of artists, writers, poets, musicians and some very naughty socialites will be discussed. The course will be illustrated throughout. No prior knowledge will be assumed.

4 AM
AM course

Course Notes


Clapham, Knightsbridge and Cambridge

We will begin our exploration with an introduction to the central Dramatis Personae. From these characters we will spread our story to other players, a veritable who's who of friends, lovers and others. We will then go to the beginning with a look at the Stephen family; who they were, where and how they lived. Then to Cambridge at the end of the nineteenth century and see how the experience of university brought together an extraordinary group of men and a set of ideas which lay at the core of the Bloomsbury coterie and their wider circle of friends, lovers and acquaintances.


Bloomsbury and The Omega Workshop

Liberated from the oversight and prohibitions of parents we will see how a group of young people created their own creative milieu centred on Bloomsbury and its adjacent district of Fitzrovia. Roger Fry's influence will be assessed and we will see how he acted as a catalyst not just for Bloomsbury artists but for the introduction of modernism into the British art scene as well. We will look at the painting of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell and consider how their reputation has suffered over the decades and is now being reassessed once more.


Slade and The Bohemians

Out of the Slade School of Art ventured some extraordinary talent including the almost forgotten and peripheral figure now of Augustus John. He could scandalise in his sleep! The Slade produced other remarkable artists such as Mark Gertler and Dora Carrington.

In the context of Bohemian London we will encounter the extraordinary Lady Ottoline Morrell, the argumentative Wyndham Lewis, the talented Dylan Thomas, the troublesome Eric Gill and the outrageous Nancy Cunard.


Literary Bloomsbury and The Hogarth Press

A more literary slant in our story with the creation of the Hogarth Press. Virginia and Leonard Woolf make a formidable team and an unusual couple. Other writers make an appearance including the all important EM Forster, Vita Sackville-West, DH Lawrence and TS Eliot. As we will see, the reputation and influence of the Bloomsbury phenomenon (for better and for worse) was largely the making of its writers, most of whom documented the life and ideas which pervaded the group and its associates.


Death, Destruction and Legacy

The 1930s saw the deaths of Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey and Julian Bell. The foundations of Bloomsbury are almost shaken to destruction. The extraordinary Ottoline Morrell dies too. The London houses are bombed, Virginia Woolf commits suicide but somehow the show carries on - at least for a while. A few protagonists live on into the 1970s and 80s. We will draw up the loose threads and assess the enduring legacy of both Bloomsbury and Bohemia including a brief assessment of how their work endures in literature, in film, television and on stage.

Course Tutor

Wayne Bennett


About Wayne


After an initial training and career in the theatre (including working in London's West End and for over four years at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) Wayne studied fine art and art history at Camberwell School of Art and Goldsmiths' College, University of London, where he obtained a first class honours degree. He studied archaeology at Exeter University and has a Master's degree in Art History from the Open University.For two years he worked for the Contemporary Art Society based at the Tate Gallery and for 23 years was General Manager and Director of Dillington House - Somerset's Residential College of Adult Education until his retirement in 2015. He now divides his time between his research interests - archaeology, cartography, cultural history, music and art.He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.


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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 11 Jul - 15 Jul

WK 2 18 Jul - 22 Jul

WK 3 25 Jul - 29 Jul

WK 4 1 Aug - 5 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM