23926130I was very pleased to be able to attend this event at Bloomsbury Publishing earlier this week where the biographer Frances Spalding carried out a joint interview with Priya Parmar, author of Vanessa and Her Sister (which I reviewed here) and Amanda Coe, writer of Life in Squares, the upcoming BBC series about the Bloomsbury Group.

It was a really pleasant evening, and I found out some interesting stuff:

  • Priya took 7 years to research and write the novel, immersing herself in the mountain of correspondence
  • she didn’t originally intend the novel to be in the form of a diary
  • her view was is that it definitely can’t have been easy to be Virginia Woolf’s sister (knowing laughter from the audience)
  • Amanda’s TV series will also have Vanessa Bell as the central character
  • it will cover the period 1905 to 1948, compared to Priya’s novel which covers 1905 to 1912
  • why Vanessa Bell – the most visual and last verbal of the group, but very much the “silent lynchpin”, and there is a lot in the literature about her, but very little by her apart from her letters, which are silent on some of the really important things such as The Great Betrayal

There was also a very interesting discussion about views of the Bloomsbury Set, seen as a cliquey group with many having the impression that there is a lot of material about them which may be true of the written word but there is in fact very little in drama. Both had been warned about potential backlash from people who loathe Bloomsbury and all that it appears to stand for but also the very knowledgeable “fans” who will have their own view of how it should all be done. But both Amanda and Priya agreed that they were just fascinating people who knew that they were interesting which made it all worthwhile.

I was able to have a quick chat with Priya and got my book signed which was great.