[Vwoolf] Bloomsbury, Roger Casement, and Biofiction

Michael Lackey lacke010 at morris.umn.edu
Thu Jul 6 17:05:59 EDT 2017

Sabina Murray has recently published a brilliant biographical novel (*Valiant
Gentlemen) *about Roger Casement, who was executed for his involvement in
the 1916 Easter Rebellion. Casement was a great humanitarian--he did much
to expose horrors and injustices in Africa and South America, and for his
great work, he was knighted.  To turn the adoring public against Casement,
the British, who discovered that he was homosexual, used his sexual
orientation to demonize him.  To be expected, some high-profile people
supported Casement, including Bloomsbury members Lytton Strachey and Duncan
Grant.  Here is what Murray writes in her novel: Casement's "lawyer had
listed a few writers and artists who supported him, Lytton Strachey, Duncan
Grant, others of that circle, and made the wry observation that they were
freaks and weirdos, but at least they were on his side."

There have now been two important biographical novels about Casement
(Murray's and Mario Vargas Llosa's *The Dream of the Celt*).  Put simply,
Casement's reputation is finally being fully restored, and it is worth
noting that Bloomsbury members were on the right side of history about one
hundred years before the rest of the culture.

An essay about Bloomsbury through its response to Casement is waiting to be
written, and the contemporary biofiction about Casement would enable
someone to make that case.

All Best,

Michael Lackey
Distinguished McKnight University Professor
University of Minnesota, Morris
104 Humanities Building
600 East 4th Street
Morris, MN 56267-2132
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