I’ve been enjoying the three-part documentary How To Be Bohemian currently airing on the BBC. Episode two focused on the sexual pioneering of the Bloomsbury set in which homosexuality and bisexuality were, as we know, de rigeur.
Loving the artwork of Duncan Grant and fascinated by his personal life:
Duncan’s early affairs were exclusively homosexual. These included his cousin, the writer Lytton Strachey, the future politician Arthur Hobhouse and the economist John Maynard Keynes, who at one time considered Grant the love of his life. Through Strachey, Grant became involved in the Bloomsbury Group, where he made many such great friends including Vanessa Bell. He would eventually live with Vanessa Bell, who though she was a married woman fell deeply in love with him, and one night succeeded in seducing him; Vanessa very much wanted a child by Duncan, and became pregnant in the spring of 1918. Although it is generally assumed that Duncan’s sexual relations with Vanessa ended in the months before Angelica was born (Christmas, 1918), they continued to live together for more than 40 years.
Living with Vanessa was no impediment to Duncan’s relationships with men, either before or after Angelica was born. Angelica grew up believing that Vanessa’s husband Clive Bell was her father; she bore his surname and his behaviour toward her never indicated otherwise. Duncan and Vanessa formed an open relationship, although she herself apparently never took advantage of this after settling down with him and having their child. Duncan, in contrast, had many physical affairs and several serious relationships with other men, most notably David Garnett, who would one day marry Angelica. Duncan’s love and respect for Vanessa, however, kept him with her until her death in 1961.
Angelica wrote: “(Grant) was a homosexual with bisexual leanings”.