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David Garnett

John Simkin

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One of the strangest members of the Bloomsbury Group was David (Bunny) Garnett. He went to live with his lover, Duncan Grant, and his mistress, Vanessa Bell, the wife of Clive Bell, at Wissett Lodge in Suffolk in 1914. Later they moved to Charleston Farmhouse, near Firle. As Hermione Lee, the author of Virginia Woolf (1996), points out: "Vanessa, who had fallen in love with Duncan Grant before the start of the war, was painting in a farm-cottage on the Sussex coast, living in an uneasy triangle with Duncan and his new lover, David (known as Bunny) Garnett. In 1918 Bell gave birth to Grant's child, Angelica Bell. Garnett wrote to Lytton Strachey shortly afterwards, "I think of marrying it. When she is 20, I shall be 46 – will it be scandalous?".

On 30th March 1921 Garnett married Rachel (Ray) Marshall. The couple had two sons. In 1922 Garnett published the highly successful novel, Lady Into Fox. The money he made from this book enabled him to buy Hilton Hall, an early seventeenth-century house near Huntingdon. In 1923 he joined forces with Francis Meynell to establish the Nonesuch Press.

In 1938 Garnett began an affair with Angelica Bell. This greatly distressed her parents. Garnett's wife died of breast cancer in 1940 and he married Angelica on 8th May 1942 and over the next few years had four children (Amaryllis, Henrietta, Nerissa and Frances).


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