Vanessa Bell, artist, sister of Virginia Woolf, wife of Clive Bell and lover of Duncan Grant, is one of the most fascinating and modern figures of the Bloomsbury set, but unlike most of them she rarely put pen to writing paper. When she did, she was witty and illuminating about their early lives. The eldest of the Stephen family, she grew up with Virginia in Victorian gloom at Hyde Park Gate and later blossomed in bohemian style in Bloomsbury. From the twenties to the forties she lived and painted at Charleston Farmhouse like a heroine of the sixties and seventies, at the centre of a colourful world of family, friends, artists and intellectuals. Sketches in Pen and Ink is a unique collection of largely unpublished memoirs - most of them written to be read at meetings of the Memoir club, in which Vanessa writes with wit and charm about herself, her childhood, her remarkable family and friends, her moving relationship with Roger Fry, and her art. Her daughter, Angelica Garnett, has written a vivid and personal introduction which adds considerably to our understanding of this extraordinary woman and artist.
Vanessa Bell was born on the 30 May 1879. The sister of Virginia Woolf she was educated at home by her parents in languages, mathematics and history, and took drawing lessons from Ebenezer Cook before she attended Sir Arthur Cope's art school in 1896, and then studied painting at the Royal Academy in 1901. She married Clive Bell in 1907 and they had two sons together. The couple had an open marriage during which Vanessa Bell had affairs with art critic Roger Fry and with the painter Duncan Grant, with whom she had a daughter, Angelica in 1918. She died in 1961.