This biography reveals Ottoline Morrell, London’s leading literary hostess during the first three decades of the 20th-century. Augustus John, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf and W. B. Yeats enjoyed her hospitality and she was Bertrand Russell’s mistress for many years. To some she was a lover, to others a confidante and adviser. To many she was a mother substitute.
A half-sister of the Duke of Portland and wife to a Liberal MP, she ran a celebrated salon before the First World War, swiftly emerging as a personality in her own right. Her influence was enormous: Huxley was one of many young writers who described her as having given him ‘a complete mental re-orientation.’
Miranda Seymour is the only Bloomsbury biographer to be allowed access to family papers which include Morrell’s lost correspondence with Lytton Strachey and the revealing private records she kept from 1902 (the year of her marriage) to her death in 1938. This is also the first life of Morrell to have full benefit of Bertrand Russell’s 2,500 letters to her. Fresh and often startling light is thrown not only on her passionate relationship with Russell and on her curious marriage to Philip Morrell, which survived against all odds, but also on the Bloomsberries, their snobbery, their malice and their deceit.
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