Ralph Partridge (1894 to 1960)
The Bloomsberries certainly had some complicated relationships and Ralph Partridge was no exception. Ralph was born in 1894 so he was twelve years younger than Virginia. He was educated at Oxford and by the age of twenty three was a major in the Army during the First World War.
Ralph visited Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey at Tidmarsh Mill in Berkshire. He soon moved in with them both and became the third member of the household. Both Dora and Lytton were in love with Ralph. Ralph was heterosexual, Lytton was not. Dora and Ralph had an affair but her heart was always with Lytton.
Ralph went to work at the Hogarth Press where he earned enough money to marry Dora in 1921. She married him to stop him going abroad as Lytton had come to rely on his friendship. Always thinking of Lytton first. All three of them went on Honeymoon to Venice.
Ham Spray House
By Charles Richard Sanders [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1924 Lytton bought Ham Spray House and invited the married Dora and Ralph to live with him. The living arrangements started as Ralph moving in with Dora and Lytton at Tidmarsh and ended up with Dora and Ralph moving in with Lytton at Ham Spray. Confused?
Ralph left Dora in 1926 when he fell in love with Francis Marshall. Dora never really loved him as she was in love with Lytton. When Lytton died in 1932 Dora shot herself rather than live without him. She was only thirty eight.
Ralph married Francis in 1933 and they were rarely apart. Francis was a Cambridge student but (like all women at that time) couldn’t get a full degree. The Partridges travelled together, they ballroom danced, enjoyed music and had a very close marriage until he died of a heart attack in 1960. Francis lived until 2004 and died at the age of 104.