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The Garman Sisters: The Women Who Inspired Artists


John Simkin
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Roy Campbell wrote in 1934: "No other contemporary woman ever had so much poetry, good, bad and indifferent, written about them, or had so many portraits and busts made of them." Campbell was talking about the Garman sisters. This included:

Lorna Garman married the publisher Edward Wishart at 16. She also had affairs with the novelist, Llewelyn Powys, the poet, Laurie Lee and the artist Lucian Freud. All three produced work inspired by their relationship with her. Peggy Guggenheim, the lover of her brother, Douglas Garman, claimed: "Lorna was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She had enormous blue eyes, long lashes and auburn hair." Lorna also had an affair with the musician, Leslie (Hutch) Hutchinson.

Mary Garman married the poet Roy Campbell. Her beauty inspired some of Campbell’s best poetry. He told a friend: "I should never be half the writer I am, I'm afraid, if it weren't for her.” Mary had an affair with Vita Sackville-West who at the time was married to Harold Nicolson and was having a sexual relationship with Virginia Woolf. This relationship resulted in several sonnets by Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando. Mary also had an affair with the ballerina, Jeanne Hewitt, the wife of her brother, Douglas Garman. Mary also had a passionate sexual relationship with the writer, Uys Krige. As well as inspiring poems by Krige, Mary, a talented artist, produced an impressive nude portrait of her lover. It is also possible that she had affairs with the poet, Hart Crane, the painter Tristram Hillier and the Irish writer Liam O'Flaherty, who Anna Campbell described as the "best-looking man she had ever seen, and one of the wildest."

Kathleen Garman became the mistress of the sculptor, Jacob Epstein, when she was only nineteen. Over the next few years she gave birth to three children. Although Epstein remained married and had a string of mistresses, she remained loyal to him. Kathleen was his main model and inherited all of his unsold work when he died in 1959. Kathleen was painted by Augustus John and inspired the poetry of Samuel Menashe.

Two other sisters also had active sex lives. Ruth had an affair with Leslie (Hutch) Hutchinson whereas Sylvia is believed to have been Lawrence of Arabia’s only female lover.

Lorna Garman

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPwishartL.htm

Kathleen Garman

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPgarmanK.htm

Mary Garman

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPgarmanM.htm

Douglas Garman

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPgarmanD.htm

Walter Garman

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPgarmanW.htm

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Oh, those wicked Bloomsbury's, how I love them. Has anyone written a book about these sisters? If so I haven't come across it and I am an avid biography reader of that era. Just finished "Uncommon Arrangements - Six Marriages in LiteraryLondon". Included is Virginia Woolf, H G Wells, Ottoline Morrell, the Bells, Garnetts etc etc. All very uncommon arrangements indeed.

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Oh, those wicked Bloomsbury's, how I love them. Has anyone written a book about these sisters? If so I haven't come across it and I am an avid biography reader of that era. Just finished "Uncommon Arrangements - Six Marriages in LiteraryLondon". Included is Virginia Woolf, H G Wells, Ottoline Morrell, the Bells, Garnetts etc etc. All very uncommon arrangements indeed.

I have just had an email from Sebastian Garman (the son of Mavin Garman). He is very unhappy with my portrayal of his family. He says it makes them look vulgar. The point is, that if they had not behaved in this way, historians would not be interested in them. I visited Lorna Garman's family home yesterday. It was miles from anywhere. I suspect the sex was an escape from boredom.

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How funny! I would have thought that most people would have been thrilled to have such famous relatives. Others would refer to them as free spirits, progressives, intellectual bohemians etc. If they are his idea of vulgar then what does he make of the Woolfs, the Bells, the Garnetts, the Lawrences, the Mitfords, the Happy Valley crowd etc etc? After all, they had to make up for being brought up in the late Victorian age then living through the first world war somehow!

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I've ordered "The Rare and the Beautiful: The Lives of the Garman Sisters" from Amazon so will let you know what it's like when I've read it.

I visited Lorna Garman's house on Saturday. It was miles from anywhere and maybe her sexual activity was related to not having to deal with nosey neighbours.

B)

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