Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bloomsbury Lettuce Soup

I have returned to my Jans Ondaatje Rolls’ Bloomsbury Cookbook and decided this time on lettuce soup. I have never had lettuce soup and thought it sounded bland and boring. I had to try it. This is a recipe from Francis Partridge’s collection.

Frances worked in David Garnett’s London bookshop and met many of the Bloomsbury Group as a result. She was very close to Ralph Partridge (and married him) and to Lytton Strachey. She went to Cambridge and earned her titular degree (she was a woman so she couldn’t get the full degree). She became an author with the publication of her diaries which earned her a CBE for her outstanding literary achievement.

I assume that she liked lettuce soup.

Here are the ingredients:

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Lettuce, butter, double cream, chopped onion, black pepper, salt and thyme. That’s it.

The method was vague with no quantities and no timing. So, I just guessed.

Take the leaves and cook gently in butter. Add water, cream or milk. Add thyme and chopped onion. Season and put through blender.

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I decided to fry the onion first. Then I added the lettuce leaves. Then the thyme and the cream.

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Then I blended and served. Easy. Delicious.

I was really surprised. Instead of it being the colourless and flavourless soup that I expected, it was a lovely mottled green with a very fresh flavour and a nicely thick consistency. It was very nice; much nicer that I thought it would be.

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L is for …

 

Leslie Stephen

Virginia’s father

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Leslie Stephen by: George Frederic Watts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

Leslie Stephen was born in 1832, the same year as Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) and Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) just to give you a little perspective and context.

Leslie was ‘ a man of letters’ but what is that exactly?

Well, a man of letters is a man who is devoted to literary or scholarly activities. Put another way, he is an intellectual, he is very well educated and has progressive ideas. He will likely earn a living from writing intellectually (not creatively). Leslie was certainly ‘A Great Victorian’. He started out as a clergyman, he taught maths, he was a journalist, editor,  writer, author, critic, historian, biographer, a member of the intellectual aristocracy and ……. mountaineer.   

Leslie was educated at Eton from the age of ten. He then went to King’s College, London and to Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He edited The Cornhill ( a Victorian Literary magazine) and the Dictionary of National Biography, for which he was paid the equivalent of around £88k. He was also a leading agnostic, neither a believer nor a non-believer in God, despite coming from a very religious family and starting working life as a Clergyman.

Leslie’s first wife was Harriet, the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray (Vanity Fair). They had a daughter, Laura, who was born prematurely and suffered with what was likely to be Downs.  His second wife was Julia Duckworth who was the mother of Virginia Woolf.

Leslie spent his spare time participating in athletics, rowing and mountaineering.  He had great skill and made difficult climbs in the Alps, which were his ‘playground’. Among other major peaks he climbed Mont Blanc in 1861. Leslie was president of the Alpine Club and as editor of the Alpine Journal. He also published The Playground of Europe ; a mountaineering classic.

Leslie lost his second wife, Julia, to rheumatic fever in 1895 and struggled to comes to terms to life without her. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1902 and died in 1904.

Bloomsbury and Bloomsberry

The Bloomsburys and the Bloomsberries

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Photo: courtesy of Pixabay (CCO Public Domain)

This post is for Brenda who has asked about my practice of referring to the Bloomsbury Group as the ‘Bloomsberries’, and for anyone else who is curious. I have had members of my family asking the same question. Strictly speaking they were the Bloomsbury Group and informally, I reckon, the Bloomsburys. However, that just doesn’t look right as a plural so I thought Bloomsberries looked better. I also thought, naively, that it was my invention.

Well it isn’t my invention and I do see it used on Virginia Woolf sites like this one here: Bloomsberries, which states that:

the ‘Bloomsberries’ as they were called, were mostly privileged and well-educated members of the upper middle class.

I also like the word a great deal; it sounds very different to ‘Bloomsbury’… more rounded, with a change of syllable emphasis from the bloom to the berry. Visually it conjures up images of  ….. blooms and berries no less.

Like Brenda, I love words and I think this is a delicious word.

K is for …

Katherine Mansfield (1888 to 1923)

Virginia saw Katherine as her main rival

Kathleen (sic) Mansfield and Virginia Woolf were contemporaries;  Virginia being older by six years. Mansfield was born in New Zealand but studied at Queen’s College in London. She started using the pen name of Katherine as she became more successful as a writer. Mansfield had a prolific writing career, she wrote eighty eight stories, some of which remained unfinished; but around sixty of them made it to completion.

I wonder why she preferred Katherine to Kathleen?

The friendship between Katherine and Virginia was complicated. They had a mutual admiration for each other’s work but they shared a rivalry and there was something about Katherine that made Virginia wary of her. They were competitive and ‘liked’ it when the other received poor reviews. They loved that the other was passionate about writing and loved talking about work together but there were occasions of unfriendliness and insincerity that made for a very on-off friendship. Despite this there was always a ‘thing’ between them. The other’s mere existence was always an issue, regardless of whether they were in a friendly period, or not. Katherine suffered with tuberculosis and was very ill, very young. Due to her illness she had to spend many months abroad and this hampered the relationship further. Sometimes they would write to each other then there would be long gaps, but even the gaps were tangible.

When Katherine died in 1923, aged 35, Virginia wrote that there was

no point in writing any more … Katherine won’t read it.

If you fancy reading an essay of mine, relating to Mansfield’s short stories, then please see ‘my  essays’ section. This is one of many essays that I submitted for my BA (Hons) Literature (1999 to 2005).

Social Criticism (Katherine Mansfield)

‘[P]olitical awareness or social criticism do not directly express themselves in [Mansfield’s] stories’ (Elizabeth Bowen, quoted in Aestheticism and Modernism, p.97). Discuss Bowen’s assertion with reference to at least two of Mansfield’s stories.

Katherine Mansfield was long considered to be, primarily, an aesthetic writer due to an appreciation of the formal qualities of her work and a recognition of the ‘lack of direct social or political mission’ in her writing.[1] Indeed, Mansfield herself held the view that ‘it is not the business of the artist to grind an axe’ or to ‘try to transform the world’.[2] However, some critics have suggested that her stories deserve to be read increasingly as engaging with political and social issues and, though Mansfield does not overtly embrace such issues, her works can be read as commenting on such topics as gender and class relations.

For the purpose of this essay I will consider two of Mansfield’s short stories, ‘Bliss’ and ‘The Garden Party’. I aim to show how ‘Bliss’ illustrates the aesthetic qualities of Mansfield’s writing and asserts Bowen’s view that political awareness and social criticism are not directly expressed in her stories. I will show how the traditionally accepted notion of the ideal woman as sexually disinterested, heterosexual and maternal are challenged in ‘Bliss’ by Mansfield’s use of such artistic techniques as language, imagery, symbolism and free indirect speech rather than by explicit comment.

I will then consider ‘The Garden Party’ and intend to show how Mansfield’s use of sociolect, contrast, satire and imagery directly contributes to the exposure of the ‘harshness of class differences’[3] and offers a challenge to traditional class representations and prejudice, thus offering some challenge to Bowen’s assertion that social criticism is not directly expressed in Mansfield’ stories. I aim to show how the issues of social class pervade in ‘The Garden Party’ in a more direct way than the issues of gender pervade in ‘Bliss’.

The opening paragraphs of ‘Bliss’ describe Bertha’s feelings of pleasure. The ‘little shower of sparks’ that she felt in ‘every finger and toe’ is ostensibly, through the beauty of the language and the imagery of the bright afternoon sunshine, describing her elation at experiencing a ‘divine day’ and ‘might seem relatively innocuous’.[4] However, the language could be interpreted as erotic, suggesting the bliss of sexual passion. The choice of words associated with heat (‘bright’, ‘sun’ and ‘burned’) adds to the passion and energy of the scene. The emphasis is on encouraging the reader to engage with the text to allow her/him the pleasure of interpretation. Indeed, Mansfield appears to encourage reader participation by producing an ‘interactive’ work of art.

As Bertha prepares to arrange the fruit for the party, Mansfield’s imagery appeals to the senses of the reader. The fruit may represent sensuality and desire. Indeed, it has not been purchased purely to be eaten but as a display of opulence, beauty and luxury. The colours and textures evoke sensations of indulgence as the apples are described as ‘strawberry pink’ and the yellow pears as ‘smooth as silk’. Strawberries and silk are often associated with desire and extravagance. The ‘silver bloom’ could be interpreted as feminine desire, silver, typically representing femininity and the bloom suggesting the blossoming of Bertha’s sensuality. The phrases ‘seemed to melt’ and ‘float in the air’ invoke imagery of passion, suggesting ‘erotic and sexual feelings’ for a responsive reader[5]. Through the precise observation of detail and colour, Mansfield has revealed one of ‘many moments of encoded sexual pleasure’[6] to introduce, indirectly, Bertha as a sensual and sexual woman. 

The pear tree, in ‘Bliss’ provides a link with the previous sensuous beauty of the fruit, but as a living thing with not a ‘single bud or a faded petal’ it becomes symbolic of Bertha’s feelings of bliss. The similarity of the word ‘pear’ with the name ‘Pearl’ may suggest that it is actually Pearl that is the focus of Bertha’s happiness. Readers are invited to interpret Mansfield’s symbolist techniques as representative of Bertha’s sexual desire for another woman. Indeed, the pear tree is described as ‘silver now, in the light of poor dear Eddie’s moon’ which suggests it is gendered feminine. However, the phallic association as it grew ‘taller and taller as they gazed’ implies a masculine gender. This ambiguity may suggest an uncertainty between Bertha’s heterosexuality and homosexuality.

‘Bliss’, written with a third person narrator but focalised through Bertha, allows the reader access to the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist. With regard to Pearl, we learn that Bertha had ‘fallen in love with her’, a direct comment by the narrator that we can associate with Bertha’s choice of phrase. This focalisation gives initial credibility to the statement and suggests a possible potential lesbian relationship but the immediate qualification of ‘as she always did fall in love’ takes some of the directness from the narrator’s assertion. The comment can no longer to be taken at face value, but seems somewhat dismissive as if it is merely a contemporary popular phrase to describe a new friendship. In addition, Bertha’s realisation that Pearl has similar feelings, ‘But, Bertha knew, suddenly’ is not quite as direct as it at first may seem as a degree of irony, in the reader being more aware of Bertha’s error than Bertha is, makes a more indirect comment on her sexuality. It makes Bertha’s directness seem erroneous. Mansfield perhaps did not want to make direct comment on such a taboo issue but rather suggested its possible existence. 

The name ‘Bertha’ may evoke an image of a mad woman in an attic who is the antipathy of the traditional mother figure. A square peg in the round hole of motherhood and femininity. Though it is impossible to state whether the character of Bertha Young has been influenced by Bertha Mason, the suggestion that she has to be ‘drunk and disorderly’ to express her feelings in society does forge some link to Bronte’s ‘mad’ character who some critics have suggested was labelled as ‘mad’ purely because she did not conform to society’s expectations. The opening paragraphs of ‘Bliss’ suggest that Bertha yearns to be free from the feminine constraints of such a society where ‘if you are over thirty’ you cannot ‘run instead of walk’. This yearning is enhanced by Mansfield’s use of free indirect speech and stream of consciousness techniques. Phrases like ‘bowl a hoop’ suggest Bertha’s choice of expression, not the narrator’s and we are encouraged to see Bertha as childlike and self-gratifying, not maternal and responsible. The jumble of thoughts beginning ‘Oh, is there no way’ and ending ‘like a rare, rare fiddle’ indicates Bertha’s rejection of society’s constraints by showing her thoughts as running out of control. We are not encouraged to view Bertha as maternal as ‘Little B’ is not the primary focus of her thoughts, and is actually not considered until after the fruit has been arranged.

I now wish to concentrate on a later short story of Mansfield’s ‘The Garden Party’. Like ‘Bliss’ the story is concentrated around a particular social event and we ‘join’ the event in mid action. I hope to show that the issue of social class pervades this story in a more direct way than issues of gender pervade in ‘Bliss’. Mansfield exposes class differences’ in ‘The Garden party by use of sociolect, contrasts, satire and imagery and provides a less subtle, more didactic approach than ‘Bliss’. 

The opening sentences of ‘The Garden Party’ present an upper class family preparing for a garden party. The words ‘ideal’ and ‘perfect’ and conversation about the importance of the weather and flowers, suggest language and concerns associated with higher social groups. Mrs Sheridan comments ‘my dear child’ which is typical of genteel family language. Sociolect is therefore used to indicate the social status of the speaker. In contrast, one of the workmen comments that the marquee needs to be located somewhere ‘where it’ll give you a bang slap in the eye’. Slang language is used to indicate his working class status to a readership that may associate non-standard English with inferiority. Mansfield makes a clear distinction between the classes in her choice of idiom for her characters.

The reader is introduced to members of the gentry and their concern with the trivialities of life such as which flowers to impress others with. The contrast in the fifth sentence which informs us that the gardener had ‘been up since dawn’ and was engaged in manual work of ‘mowing’ and ‘sweeping’ makes a clear class distinction between the idle life of the gentry and the people who work for them. The ‘concerns’ of the gentry are presented as nothing more serious than party planning whereas the lower class have serious concerns about a man killed. The contrast in subject matter is a clear intention to represent the gentry as far removed from the realities of life and suffering and to present them as selfish and uncaring. When Mrs Sheridan is informed of the death, she responds with ‘Not in the garden?’ Contrasts are further evident throughout the story. The ‘hundreds, yes, literally hundreds’ of roses and the beauty of the ‘broad, gleaming leaves’ of the karakas are contrasted with the garden patches of the working classes where ‘there was nothing but cabbage stalks’. Interestingly, Mrs Sheridan instructs Laura ‘don’t be so extravagant’ in her desire to cancel the party but she fails to see the extravagance of her own desire to ‘have enough canna lilies’. The contrast in Mrs Sheridan’s actual extravagance and her inappropriate use of the word helps to portray her as self centred and heartless and the reader can hardly avoid forming a dislike of the class that she represents.

Mansfield’s use of satire in describing the ‘shreds of smoke’ coming from the workmen’s cottages, compared to the gentry’s ‘silvery plumes’ acknowledges the existence of class prejudice and makes it appear ridiculous, challenging the very notion of class assumptions. This, almost comical, representation of class differences provides a direct expression of social criticism and challenges Bowen’s assertion. However, Mansfield ensures that the reader is left in no doubt as to the ridiculous nature of class prejudice when she offers a direct challenge to the assumption made by Jose that the dead workman was drunk. Laura immediately and ‘furiously’ replies with ‘Drunk! Who said he was drunk?’

Laura is introduced to the reader ‘holding her piece of bread and butter’ as she puts on an act of severity ‘copying her mother’s voice’ in dealing with the ‘men’. The image is of a silly young woman, conscious of her behaviour, trying (and failing) to act according to learned class expectations. Conversely, the image presented of the ‘tallest of the men’ is of a man at ease as he ‘knocked back his straw hat and smiled’. Significantly, Mansfield physically positions the tall man as looking ‘down’ on Laura, indicating that despite his lower class, he is not inferior. Mansfield is making a direct statement on the relationship of the classes to each other and reversing the previously assumed position of superiority afforded to the higher classes.

Mansfield uses the character of Laura to directly challenge class prejudice. It is Laura who feels ‘empathy with those outside her class’[7] as we witness her concern about ‘what the band would sound like to that poor woman’. It is Laura who challenges the behaviour of the previous generation ‘but we can’t possibly have a garden party with a dead man just outside the front gate’. Despite her efforts, the garden party does still take place but her ‘fight’ against prejudice is not altogether lost as we are encouraged to view Mrs Sheridan as disparaging, ‘I can’t understand how they keep alive in those poky little holes’ and concerned with appearances ‘ Darling Laura, how well you look’. 

I hope to have shown how the social issues of gender and class have been expressed in two of Mansfield’s stories. Although neither story is didactic in its approach to social and political concerns I hope to have shown how, in both stories, Mansfield’s ‘social vision was inseparable from her aesthetic practices’[8]. The issues of gender and class relations are ‘conspicuous in all her writing’ [9] but are expressed more or less directly in different works. Of the two stories, it is ‘Bliss’ which requires greater interpretation by the reader who is left to ‘intuit the themes of her stories’[10]. In comparison, ‘The Garden Party’ is more ‘obvious’ in its social criticism as through more direct techniques Mansfield ensures that the ‘reader is constantly reminded of class distinctions’.[11]

B I B L I O G R A P H Y

Brown, R. D. and Gupta, S. (eds) (2005) Aestheticism and Modernism: debates in Twentieth-Century Literature 1900-1960, London: Routledge in association with the Open University.

Gupta, S. and Johnson, D. (eds) (2005) A Twentieth-Century Literature Reader, Texts and Debates, London: Routledge in association with the Open University

Mansfield, K. (2002) Selected Stories, ed. and intro. By A Smith, Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Open University A300 course material – CD1 Katherine Mansfield

[1] Brown and Gupta, 2005, p. 97

[2] Brown and Gupta, 2005, p. 99

[3] Brown and Gupta, 2005, p. 98

[4] Gupta and Johnson, 2005, p. 39

[5] Gupta and Johnson, 2005, p. 42

[6] Gupta and Johnson, 2005, p. 30

[7] Brown and Gupta, 2005, p. 94

[8] O’Sullivan speaking on CD1, Band 6

[9] Brown and Gupta, 2005, p. 113

[10] Brown and Gupta, 2005, p. 94

[11] Mansfield, 2002, p. xxvii

J is for …

Judith Shakespeare

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‘What would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say.’

All quotes from Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

In the third chapter of Virginia Woolf’s feminist essay,  A Room of One’s Own, we are introduced to the fictional character, Judith Shakespeare.  Woolf uses the fictional sister of William Shakespeare to compare the lives and opportunities of men and women in Shakespeare’s England in the 1500s. Judith is of equal genius to William but whereas he can thrive, she cannot.

William probably attended a grammar school to learn Latin and to study the Roman poets, Ovid, Virgil and Horace. He followed his dream and turned up at a theatre and worked his way into acting. He met new people, made contacts and wrote and wrote and wrote. Judith stayed at home.

Judith would never have gone to school. She would have been trapped at home, expected to do the chores and would have been reprimanded if found reading when she should have been domestically employed within the confines of the house. She would have been expected to marry a man of her father’s choice and remain forever in her husband’s servitude. She would also have been laughed at and ridiculed if she had wanted to follow her dream. So many doors would have been closed to her.

Virginia questions why there are so few women writers of this time in the canon. She says that

‘Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman’.

We already know that writers like Charlotte Bronte and Mary Ann Evans had to use male pseudonyms in order to be able to write; we know that women like Jane Austen were so discouraged from writing that they had to hide their work from prying eyes. Such was the obstacles faced by women writers. What hope was there when opinion was that,

‘the best woman was intellectually the inferior of the worst man’.

It’s a wonder we haven’t crashed the internet with all the articles about patriarchy and feminism but we know that Virginia was a keen advocate of feminism and paved the way for equality with her famous comment that,

‘A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’.

I is for …

Illness

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Virginia is perhaps almost as well known for her mental ill heath as for her writing. The more I research the subject the more I understand the debilitating nature of the illness and realise just how much she, and Leonard, must have suffered. Mental Illness plagued Virginia on and off all her life. She suffered severe episodes at major life events; her mother’s death, her father’s death, her marriage; but she was also very vulnerable as she neared the end of writing each of her novels. So, as a novel came to its finishing stages she became exhausted and started worrying about the possible rejection of her work, whether it was good enough, whether anyone would read it and whether Leonard would like it.

Virginia suffered with extremes of mood from mania to depression and would talk non stop, making little sense. She would stay up all night and then go to bed for weeks. She had periods of not eating and became very thin. It was only because she had the support of Leonard who took care of her that meant that she avoided being institutionalised. She did however, spend considerable time in 1910, 1912 and 1913 in private nursing homes for women with ‘nervous disorders’.

Virginia wrote in her diary on April 9th 1936 and then not again until June 11th. During those two months she ‘pitched into bed’ with what she later referred to as an ‘almost catastrophic illness’. When she finally wrote again she says in her diary;

Oh but the divine joy of being mistress of my mind again

During Virginia’s lifetime her illness was known as manic depression. Today it would be known as Bipolar Disorder.

H is for …

The Hogarth Press

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Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay (CCO Public Domain)

Virginia and Leonard were married in 1912. After their honeymoon, Virginia had another breakdown which resulted in her taking an overdose and nearly losing her life. When she had recovered sufficiently the couple moved to a new house, Hogarth House in Richmond, but she had a relapse and didn’t really recover fully until 1916.

Leonard thought that Virginia needed a hobby and distraction from her writing to aid her recovery so in 1917 they were both excited to buy a hand press and all the materials to start a printing venture to provide an non-writing interest and therapy for Virginia. The press would have cost them about £1,000 today. They were at the start of their business of printing books and named their enterprise the Hogarth Press.

What began as a hand printing hobby with amateurish results, quickly turned into a professional publishing business. The Woolfs started using a commercial printer and published Virginia’s work as well as works by fellow Bloomsberries. Other writers that were published by The Hogarth Press include Katherine Mansfield and Vita Sackville West. The press also published works on psychoanalysis and translated many foreign texts, particularly Russian works.

The original process of hand setting the type was slow and needed much patience and dexterity. Leonard suffered from shaking hands so it was largely Virginia who did the setting. It was time consuming and painstaking work and Virginia sometimes got her ‘n’s mixed up with ‘h’s. The first, less than professional results, included spelling mistakes and uneven ink but the Woolfs were not to be discouraged. They had invested in a very satisfying and soothing hobby that became a successful business.

Virginia loved the process of arranging the letters, the blank spaces and the punctuation to make a perfect composition. I am reminded of my degree days when I too loved what I called,

The art of arranging words on a page.

I wasn’t happy with any essay until every comma, every apostrophe and every word was what I thought to be perfect. I would have reprinted a twenty page document for the sake of one comma, if necessary! I can certainly relate to Virginia’s ‘visual literacy’.

Furthermore, publishing her own books, gave Virginia a freedom from the censorship of (male) editors. She had to answer to no one and was free to write as she wished. Neither Virginia nor Leonard were particularly interested in making money at all costs. They would refuse to publish books merely for profit; they had to really think the books were worth publishing.

Over a period of thirty years, the Hogarth Press printed over 500 books.

G is for …

George and Gerald

Virginia had two half brothers who had the same mother as Virginia, but a different father. The boys’ father was Herbert Duckworth; Julia’s first husband until he died. Virginia’s father was Leslie Stephen as we know; Julia’s second husband until she died. There were also half sisters from both Julia’s and Leslie’s sides (Stella and Laura) but I want to talk about the two brothers.

Both George and Gerald Duckworth were educated at Eton and then Cambridge. George was a public servant and has a very impressive CV including being secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Austen Chamberlain. Gerald founded the publishing company, Gerald Duckworth and Co Ltd, which continues to be successful today.

However, alongside these successful public personae, there seems to have been a sinister side to the brothers. Both have been accused of sexual abuse towards both Virginia and Vanessa as children and young adults.

In ‘Sketch of the Past’ an autobiographical essay, Virginia writes about being very small and, speaking of Gerald, says, ‘I can remember the feel of his hand going under my clothes …. his hand explored my private parts too.’

Virginia goes on to write how she resented and disliked it and hoped for it to stop, but it didn’t. She comments how she instinctively knew that it was wrong, despite her young age. When Virginia was six, Gerald was 18. Some think that this early sexual abuse was to blame for Virginia’s lifelong suffering with mental illness. After this abuse by Gerald at about six years of age, Virginia (and Vanessa) continued to suffer abuse by both brothers into teenage years.

F is for …

 

Freshwater Circle

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Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight.

Tennyson is to the Freshwater Circle as Woolf is to the Bloomsbury Group

The Freshwater Circle was another crowd of bohemian artists, writers, poets , photographers and painters. This group was meeting before Virginia was born; it started around 1853 when Tennyson moved to Freshwater, Isle of Wight, and became neighbours with Virginia’s famous photographer aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron.

Tennyson was seeking escape from his fans. He found their climbing trees to catch a glimpse of him and their walking into his garden, an intolerable breach of his privacy. Freshwater was a means of escape and he moved there with his family in 1853 and lived there until his death in 1892.

Tennyson, as poet Laureate, was one of the most famous men in Britain at that time and the Freshwater Circle, which included Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, comprised famous celebrities of the Victorian era. Tennyson’s presence on the Isle of Wight encouraged like minded people to gather there. The Cameron family and the Tennyson family visited each other regularly.  It is difficult to see them as such today, but Victorian writers and poets were the equivalent, I suppose, of our modern day famous musicians, actors and supermodels.

Tennyson’s move to Freshwater was ironic as he actually ended up creating a bit of a tourist attraction where people came to catch glimpses of him and other members of this famous group.

The photograph of Freshwater Bay is by Linda Hartley. Please see her blog and photography at:  Linda M Hartley  and Linda Hartley flickr  Attribution: By Linda Hartley from London, UK [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons