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Julia Strachey

John Simkin

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Stephen Tomlin also had sexual relationships with Julia Strachey and Dora Carrington. Carrington's husband, Ralph Partridge, strongly objected to the relationship, "fearing he (Tomlin) was someone more likely to destroy than to create happiness." Frances Marshall agreed: "One side of his character was creatively gifted, charming and sensitive; the other was dominated by a destructive impulse (fuelled probably by deep neurotic despair) whose effect was that he couldn't see two people happy together without being impelled to intervene and take one away, leaving the other bereft. Or it would take the form of a direct bid for power over others - whether male or female, for he was bi-sexual - which he was well-equipped to exert. The sequel would be a fit of suicidal depression and guilt-feelings."

Julia Strachey married Stephen Tomlin in July 1927. The married couple rented a stone cottage at Swallowcliffe in Wiltshire. Carrington was a regular visitor: "Really its equal to Ham Spray in elegance and comfort, only cleaner and tidier." Carrington was in love with both Stephen and Julia. She told Gerald Brenan that she was strongly attracted to Julia and that she was "sleeping night after night in my house, and there's nothing to be done, but to admire her from a distance, and steal distracted kisses under cover of saying goodnight." In October 1929 she sent a letter to her complaining: "Julia, I wish I was a young man and not a hybrid monster, so that I could please you a little in some way, with my affection. You know you move me strangely. I remember for some reasons every thing you say and do, you charm me so much."

Virginia Woolf and Leonard Woolf established the Hogarth Press. Over the next few years they published the work of Virginia, Flora Mayor, Katherine Mansfield, E. M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Robert Graves, T. S. Eliot and Edith Sitwell. In 1932 they published Julia Strachey's Cheerful Weather for the Wedding. Virginia Woolf's biographer, Hermione Lee, has argued that the novel was "an eccentric and witty story of a single difficult day at a wedding in Dorset, shows us what Virginia Woolf's tastes were in contemporary women's fiction."

Julia Strachey separated from Stephen Tomlin in 1934. During this period, Julia made a living by writing short stories for magazines. In 1939 Julia Strachey began a relationship with the artist, Lawrence Gowing, who was seventeen years her junior. Gowing, who was a conscientious objector during the Second World War, married Julia in 1954.


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