C is for …


Of all the Bloomsburys it may be easier to say which of them did NOT go to Cambridge.

Those that DID Clive Bell, E M Forster, Roger Fry, Maynard Keynes, Desmond MacCarthy, Toby Stephen, Adrian Stephen, Lytton Strachey and Leonard Woolf

Those that SORT OF DID Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell

Those that DID NOT David Garnett and Duncan Grant

Most research shows that Virginia did not go to school, college or university and that she was taught at home by her parents and perhaps private tutors. However, recent evidence suggests that registrations and exam records exist for both Virginia and Vanessa, at what used to be known as King’s College Ladies’ Department, which shows their attendance there. Virginia would have been there between the ages of fifteen and twenty years (1897 to 1902). From this very young age Virginia studied history, Greek, Latin and German. Vanessa apparently joined her a couple of years later, studying Latin, art and architecture.

The Ladies’ Department came into being around 1871 when there was a recognition by King’s College that classes were necessary to cater for the growing interest in women’s higher education. I understand that although Virginia reached the levels required to pass exams, she didn’t actually take any. In fact, I believe that women at his time could not participate fully in university life, could not attend graduation ceremonies and although they could attend lectures they couldn’t actually gain a degree.


King’s College now has a newly refurbished (2013) ‘Virginia Woolf’ Building to provide staff and students with exceptional accommodation, study areas, classrooms and offices. There is even a wax model of Virginia, in a room of her own, in the foyer.


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