Lytton Strachey (1880 to 1932) writer

Let’s start with the pronunciation:

I always pronounced it as ‘Strarky’ but, after hearing it said so many times on my visit to Charleston, I now stand corrected. It is ‘Strayshi’.



By Dora Carrington (1893-1932) ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lytton Strachey was born a couple of years before Virginia and died nine years before her.

Strachey’s most famous work is probably Eminent Victorians, a collection of four biographies of significant Victorians. One you will have heard of but probably not the other three. Strachey was admired for dragging the biography out of the Victorian era of saintly writings with an accessible, witty style. He presented the biography as art and made it entertaining. He wrote imaginative non-fiction.

I haven’t read the collection but apparently Strachey uses a lot of speculation mixed in with fact and humorously exposes Victorian values and attitudes. I may have to put it on my book ‘waiting list’ to read later.

One of Strachey’s eminent Victorians is Florence Nightingale (the one you will have heard of, and the only female in the collection). Below is an extract from the text.

It was very odd; what could be the matter with dear Flo? Mr. Nightingale suggested that a husband might be advisable; but the curious thing was that she seemed to take no interest in husbands. And with her attractions, and her accomplishments, too! There was nothing in the world to prevent her making a really brilliant match. But no! She would think of nothing but how to satisfy that singular craving of hers to be doing something. As if there was not plenty to do in any case, in the ordinary way, at home. There was the china to look after, and there was her father to be read to after dinner.  

It is so readable and don’t you just love, ‘there was the china to look after’?


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