Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell are perhaps the best-known female icons of English art in the early twentieth century. Marion Whybrow provides a valuable insight into the family life of the Stephen sisters, and into St Ives itself, a fishing port and artists’ colony on ‘the toe-nail of England’.
As children, Virginia and Vanessa spend every summer with the family and countless visiting relations and friends at Talland House, St Ives. Their liberty in this environment and freedom from the constraints of city life enabled their development as emancipated women and as writer and artist. They grew up in a close fellowship that had a deep influence on their subsequent lives, both personal and artistic; Vanessa in the world of art and Virginia in literature.
The book opens with a portrait of St Ives as it was at the time of the Stephen family’s regular visits, and also of its indigenous life and that of the artistic community.
The author’s vivid depiction of the sisters, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, is enhanced by illustrations that illuminate them and their childhood world in St Ives.