[Vwoolf] History of the phrase "Bloomsbury Set"?

Jane Marie Garrity jane.garrity at colorado.edu
Tue Jul 11 14:03:15 EDT 2017

Hi all,
This is a follow up to the lively conversation about the use of the phrase “Bloomsbury Set” in the article about Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Does anyone know exactly who coined the epithet, “Bloomsbury Set,” and when?

I think rather than take umbrage at such contemporary references to Bloomsbury we might instead marvel at the fact that the group is being referred to at all! Here is another interesting reference—this one to the "silken Bloomsbury-set pajamas”—in an article titled “What Gucci Can Teach the Democrats" by the NYT chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/08/sunday-review/gucci-fashion-politics-.html. I do not believe that Friedman is using the phrase pejoratively, which suggests that its usage is much more complicated than earlier comments would allow.

On a less controversial note (& just for fun), here is an article by Francesca Wade on the 50 Wedgwood plates illustrated with portraits of famous women from history by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in the current London Review of Books blog:


If you click on the image you can see approximately dead center that Grant has included a portrait of himself (it is to the right of the portrait of Vanessa Bell and diagonal to the portrait of Virginia Woolf) among this pantheon of famous women.

Happy summer everyone!

Jane Garrity
Associate Professor of English
Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies
University of Colorado at Boulder
226 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0226
Jane.Garrity at Colorado.Edu<mailto:Jane.Garrity at Colorado.Edu>

On Jul 5, 2017, at 10:58 AM, Brenda S. Helt <helt0010 at umn.edu<mailto:helt0010 at umn.edu>> wrote:

Well, first, nobody who knows much of anything about the Bloomsbury Group calls them the “Bloomsbury Set”—that’s a largely pejorative label devised in Britain by homophobic and conservative minded folks who decided the Bloomsberries represented everything they despised.  It’s not always used pejoratively now, nor only in Britain, but it does still indicate a lack of knowledge of the Group.  Ironically, Ms. Sanghvi’s claim that this tech think tank is Silicon Valley’s answer to the B’bury Group is exactly correct, though, as point by point that think tank represents the antithesis of everything the Group valued, achieved, and has come to represent for its admirers today.

Brenda Helt

Co-editor Queer Bloomsbury

From: Vwoolf [mailto:vwoolf-bounces at lists.osu.edu] On Behalf Of Laura Zander
Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 8:39 AM
To: vwoolf at lists.osu.edu<mailto:vwoolf at lists.osu.edu>
Subject: [Vwoolf] Silicon Valley's Bloomsbury? Methinks not.

"Ms. Sanghvi describes it as tech’s answer to the Bloomsbury Set.."
This is about as far from Bloomsbury as you can get, with a bunch of men staring into screens as they dream up ways to make money, but sure... go ahead and use that reference point.

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