Archive JourneysBloomsbury

TimelineBiographiesBloomsbury GroupArtquizbFurther Information
Vanessa BellRoger FryDuncan Grant
Sadness in later years

The thirties were a time of sadness for Vanessa. Roger Fry, whom Vanessa had remained close to, died after a fall in 1934 and in 1937 her son Julian was killed while serving as an ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War. As a pacifist as well as a mother, Vanessa tried her best to dissuade her son from going to war, as can be seen in the following quotation from a letter she wrote to him in 1936, so it was a cruel blow for her to lose him in this way.

I understood your wanting to go and see what war was like... only I do think nearly all war is madness. It's destruction and not creation, and it's mad to destroy the best things and people in the world, if one can anyhow avoid it. You object to cutting down trees. Isn't war that, a million times worse?

Letter from Vanessa Bell to Julian Bell, 10 Oct 1936
Vanessa Bell in 1930
Vanessa Bell in 1930   © Tate Archive, 2003
Quentin Bell (ed.), Julian Bell Essays, Poems and Letters, London, 1938

More unhappiness followed with the suicide of her sister Virginia in 1941, and estrangement from her daughter Angelica, when she married David Garnett, her father's former lover, in 1942. During Vanessa's last years she lived at Charleston which remained a great inspiration for her painting.

Quentin Bell (ed.), Julian Bell Essays, Poems and Letters, London, 1938
Used by permission of the Random House Group Limited