Strachey, Lytton, 1880-1932Variant names
Lytton Strachey was born to an upper-middle class family in London, and educated at Cambridge, where he was part of the rebellious Apostles, a precursor to the Bloomsbury Group. Strachey became an essayist and literary critic; he also wrote poetry, but is best remembered as a biographer. Although he wrote some conventional biographies, his best work was Eminent Victorians, a collection of biographical essays that relied on Strachey's trademark psychological insight rather than exhaustive research, an influential approach that made reading biography more entertaining and helped energize the genre. Strachey's personal life, always influenced by his homosexuality, was unconventional and often unsatisfying.
From the description of Lytton Strachey notes, portrait, and signed quotation, 1924-1930. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 72827711
From the description of Lytton Strachey papers, 1921-1953. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 20400099
Lytton Strachey was a British essayist, poet, and literary critic.
From the description of Lytton Strachey collection of papers, 1904-1934. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122596805
From the guide to the Lytton Strachey collection of papers, 1904-1934, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)
From the description of Autograph letters signed (2) : Mill House, Tidmarsh, Pangbourne, to unidentified recipients, 1920 Nov. 3 and 1922 June 15. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270872310
From the description of Lytton Strachey Collection, 1885-1957. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 145406427
Giles Lytton Strachey was born in 1880, the eleventh of thirteen children, to General Sir Richard Strachey and his wife Jane Grant. Though he spent some years at boarding schools, including Abbotsholme and Leamington College, he received much of his education at home. His mother enjoyed strong interests in literature and politics and Strachey met many of the leading writers and thinkers of the day when they came to visit Lady Strachey. Strachey's secondary education was completed at University College in Liverpool where he studied Latin, Greek, mathematics, and English literature and history. It was at University College that he met and was influenced by Walter Raleigh, a professor of English literature and well known biographer.
After failing to receive a scholarship to Oxford in 1899, Strachey decided to attend Cambridge where he developed many friendships which lasted the rest of his life. At Cambridge he met Clive Bell, Thoby Stephen, and Leonard Woolf, with whom he started the Midnight Society and the X Society. Along with many other future Bloomsberries he was elected to the Apostles. In 1903 fellow Apostle G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica was published, producing a profound effect on the aspiring intellectuals. Principia became a rationalizing factor in loosening the repression of homosexual tendencies among the Apostles and in Trinity and King's College as well.
Strachey completed his work at Cambridge with a thesis on Warren Hastings but failed to receive a Trinity fellowship. He returned to his parents' home in Lancaster Gate and sought to support himself as a journalist. Much of his social life centered on the Bloomsbury group which focused on the Thursday night at-homes of the Stephenses (Thoby, Adrian, Vanessa [Bell], and Virginia [Woolf]). Over the next several years Strachey traveled, visited friends and wrote his first book, Landmarks in French Literature (1912) which was commissioned by H.A.L. Fisher. In 1910 Strachey made the acquaintance of Ottoline Morrell with whom he carried on a playful and extended correspondence over the years. Through Morrell he met Henry Lamb and Henry Norton, who loaned him £100 to rent a cottage so he could begin his next major work, Eminent Victorians (1918). In 1915 Strachey met Dora Carrington, a graduate of the Slade School of Art and the woman who would shortly devote herself to him for the rest of his life.
In 1917 Strachey and Carrington moved into a cottage in Tidemarsh, Oxfordshire, and continued to carry on with their personal lives. Carrington maintained a relationship with fellow artist Mark Gertler before marrying Ralph Partridge in 1921, and Strachey moved through a series of relationships as well. Strachey's time at Tidemarsh cottage was also spent productively writing. He followed Eminent Victorians with Queen Victoria (1921) and produced a collection of essays, Books and Characters as well. His style was becoming very popular and he began to achieve a measure of fame which allowed him to support himself and his household from the proceeds of his writing. In 1924 Strachey purchased the lease to Ham Spray House and he, along with Carrington and Partridge, moved in. He completed Elizabeth and Essex in 1928 and started The Greville Memoirs which were completed posthumously by Ralph and Frances Partridge and Roger Fulford.
Though his frequent ill-health often made it difficult, Strachey enjoyed traveling and made several trips abroad between 1928 and 1931. Late in 1931 he began to decline rapidly from an illness which doctors were unable to identify. He died January 21, 1932, of what was later found to be stomach cancer. Carrington committed suicide a few weeks later, unable to live without him.
From the guide to the Lytton Strachey Collection TCRC98-A26., 1885-1957, (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)
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