Read Among the Bohemians Online

Authors: Virginia Nicholson

Tags: #History, #Modern, #20th Century, #Social History, #Art, #Individual Artists, #Monographs, #Social Science, #Anthropology, #Cultural

Among the Bohemians

BOOK: Among the Bohemians
9.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



‘Racy, vivacious, warm-hearted.
Offers an illuminating and well-
researched portrait of life among the artists, a century ago’ 
The Times
Literary Supplement

‘Cheerful, amusing, entertaining, engagingly illustrated’ 
Country Life

‘A crackingly good account, packed with anecdotes, but through them
runs a rich seam of research.
Richly illuminating’
Literary Review


‘My new favourite book… screamingly funny’ 
Sunday Telegraph

‘I enjoyed Virginia Nicholson’s
Among the Bohemians
– a survey of
English counter-culture from 1900–1939’ Alain de Botton, Books of
the Year, Independent

‘Offers all the pleasures of an old scrapbook… filled with colourful
images and anecdotes’ 

‘Nicholson has a magpie’s eye for the glittering anecdote’


Virginia Nicholson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
After studying at Cambridge University she lived in France and italy and then worked as a documentary researcher for BBC Television.
Her first book,
charleston-A Bloomsbury House and Garden(Written in collaboration with her father,Question Bell), was an account of the sussex home of her grandfather, the painter Vanessa Bell. She is married, has three children, and lives in Sussex


Experiments in Living





Published by the Penguin Group

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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by Viking 2002

Published in Penguin Books 2003


Copyright © Virginia Nicholson, 2002

All rights reserved

The moral right of the author has been asserted

The acknowledgements on pages 333–5 constitute an extension of this page

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

ISBN: 9780141933405

For Bill


List of Illustrations
Line Drawing Acknowledgements
1. Paying the Price
Why is poverty so romantic? – Why do artists despise money? – How does one survive while producing something that no one will buy? – What does an artist do who runs out of money? – Does being rich disqualify one from Bohemia? – If being Bohemian means being poor, is the gain worth the pain?
2. All for Love
What is wrong with talking about sex? – What is wrong with sex outside marriage? – Why shouldn’t self-expression extend to the bedroom? – Is homosexuality wrong? – Must relationships be confined to members of the same sex, class and colour? – Is marriage a meaningful institution? – Is there such a thing as free love?
3. Children of Light
What is it like to be brought up in Bohemia? – Should children be kept clean and tidy? – Should children be given rules and punishments? – How do you bring up a creative child? – Should children be educated, and if so, how?
4. Dwelling with Beauty
How can one recognise a Bohemian interior? – Does one really need furniture? – How can one live beautifully and cheaply? – Is innovation in design compatible with authentic living? – Do things have to match? – What is the point of wallpaper? – Must furniture be new? – Is comfort more important than appeaance? – Is living the simple life the answer to poverty?
5. Glorious Apparel
What do one’s clothes tell people about one’s beliefs? – Does one have to wear what other people wear? – Must one wear sober colours? – evening dress? –corsets? – Which is more important, comfort or appearance? – Must women wear skirts? – Must men be clean-shaven? – Is jewellery wrong for men? –- Do clothes have to be expensive to be beautiful?
6. Feast and Famine
Must one eat English food? – Are table manners important? – Must one eat meat? – What are the alternatives if one can’t cook? – Are creativity and cookery compatible? – Where do Bohemians dine out? – Is it possible to eat on an artist’s income? – Why must women prepare meals?
7. New Brooms
Must women give all their time to housework? – How can one cope with housework without modern machinery? – Is an experimental lifestyle compatible with having servants? – What are the advantages of remaining dirty? – Must one have baths? – Can one admit to the existence of lavatories? – Must creativity be sacrificed for the sake of cleanliness and order? – Does domesticity have any value for the artist?
8. The Open Road
Is it necessary to stay in one place? – What is the purpose of travel? – Is it preferable for English people to live in England, or is France better? – How does one differentiate the true traveller from the tourist? – What does one need to pack? – Is it necessary to have a roof over one’s head? – Is the love of speed a symptom of creativity?
9. Evenings of Friendliness
What do Bohemians want out of life? – ha party an occasion for the observation of the rules of society? – How can one entertain with no money? – Must guests know each other, or their hosts? – What kind of behaviour is acceptable at parties? – How have pubs and clubs changed their status? – Is it necessary to stay sober? – Is it all worth it in the end?
Appendix A: Monetary Equivalents
Appendix B: Dramatis Personae
Notes on Sources
Select Bibliography

List of Illustrations

Section 1

Augustus John, Norfolk, 1909 (photograph National Portrait Gallery, London; copyright reserved)
Café scene from H. Murger,
Scènes de la Vie de Bohème
, 1845 (British Library, London, Tab. 501.a.6)
‘An Unfinished Masterpiece’ by Philip Bume-Jones,
. 1900 (Rochdale Art Gallery, Lancashire/Bridgeman Art Library)
Robert Graves in his kitchen, photograph by Douglas Glass (© J. C. C. Glass, photograph National Portrait Gallery, London)
Kathleen Hale and her boyfriend, possibly Frank Potter, on holiday in Italy, 1926 (Courtesy of Peregrine McClean)
Rosalind Thornycroft and her children in Italy, 1920s (Courtesy of Chloë Green) Quentin and Julian Bell, Asheham,
. 1914 (Tate Gallery Archive, London)
John Hope-Johnstone, portrait by Augustus John,
. 1911 (Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea/© courtesy of the artist’s estate/Bridgeman Art Library)
Bedales pupils wheeling barrows (Courtesy of Bedales School)
Romilly John, bronze by Jacob Epstein, 1907 (© estate of Jacob Epstein/Tate Gallery, London/photograph Conway Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
By the Avon, 1930. Poppet John, Jean – a friend, Nicolette Macnamara, Vivien John and Caitlin Macnamara (Courtesy of Prosper Devas)
Vaslav Nijinsky dancing in
Le Dieu Bleu
, 1912 (AKG, London)
The cast of
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
, Charleston, 1925 (Tate Gallery Archive, London)
The hall in Ethel Sands’s house from D. Todd and R. Mortimer,
The New Interior Decoration
, 1929
Mural by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell from D. Todd and R. Mortimer,
The New Interior Decoration
, 1929 (Mural © 1961 estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy of Henrietta Garnett)
Chelsea Arts Ball in the Albert Hall by Fortunio Matania, 1926 (Mary Evans Picture Library, London)
Dorothy Brett and Dora Carrington, self portraits, 1915 (Dorothy Brett, courtesy of the estate of Dorothy Brett; Dora Carrington, permission granted by Frances Partridge on behalf of the estate of Dora Carrington c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London

Section 2

‘Study of a Gypsy’ by Jacob Kramer, 1916 (© courtesy of the William Roberts Society; photograph Michael Parkin Gallery)
Kalderasà gypsies on the march in England, 1911, photograph by Fred Shaw (Gypsy Archive, Sidney Jones Library, University of Liverpool)
‘Slade cropheads’,
. 1911 (Tate Gallery Archive, London)
Dorothy Brett caricatured herself and fellow Bohemians (Dorothy Brett, courtesy of the estate of Dorothy Brett)
‘Nina Hamnett with a Guitar’, portrait by Roger Fry, 1917–18 (Private Collection/ courtesy of Annabel Cole; photograph Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
Jacob Epstein, c. 1924, photograph by George Charles Beresford (National Portrait Gallery, London)
Viva King, portrait by Augustus John, 1922 (Private collection/© courtesy of the artist’s estate/Bridgeman Art Library)
‘The Kitchen, Charleston’ by Vanessa Bell, 1943 (© 1961 estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy of Henrietta Garnett)
‘Dorelia – Washing Day’ by Augustus John,
. 1912 (Tate Gallery, London/© courtesy of the artist’s estate/Bridgeman Art Library)
Mark Gertler, self-portrait, 1920 (Arts Council Collection, courtesy of Luke Gertler)
Christabel Dennison, self-portrait, 1925 (Estate of Jane Spottiswoode, courtesy of Josephine Jones)
Ethel Mannin in 1930, photograph by Paul Tanqueray with jazz backdrop by Ida Davis (© estate of Paul Tanqueray, photograph National Portrait Gallery, London)
Gerald Brenan, portrait by Dora Carrington,
. 1921 (National Portrait Gallery, London)
Mary and Roy Campbell, Jacob Kramer and ‘Dolores’ (from Millie Kramer (ed.),
Jacob Kramer – A Memorial Volume
, 1969; © courtesy of the William Roberts Society)
Betty May, the ‘Tiger-Woman’ (from
Betty May, Tiger-Woman – My Story
, 1929)
The cover of
Dope Darling – a Story of Cocaine
, by Leda Burke (pseudonym of David Garnett), 1919 (Courtesy of Richard Garnett)
Ethelbert and Elizabeth White, portrait by Nina Hamnett,
. 1920 (Private Collection/© courtesy of the artist’s estate/Bridgeman Art Library, London)
Augustus John, Nicolette Macnamara, Poppet and Vivien John dancing, 1934 (Courtesy of Prosper Devas)
Caitlin Macnamara dancing, by Rupert Shephard, 1932 (Courtesy ofBen Shephard)
BOOK: Among the Bohemians
9.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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