Carrington's life and her relationships are comprehensively covered in the writings, correspondence and photographs contained within this collection.
Material (mostly photocopied correspondence with artwork, printed ephemera and photographs) relating to Dora Carrington compiled by her brother, Noel Carrington and by her friend, David Garnett as source material for their respective publications (see citations below).
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Dora Carrington, fourth child of a family of five, was born at Hereford in 1893. In 1903, the family moved to Bedford where Dora Carrington attended Bedford School for Girls excelling at art. Encouraged by the headmistress, Carrington was successful in gaining a place at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1910. Her contemporaries included Mark Gertler, C.R.W. Nevinson, Dorothy Brett, Barbara Bagenal, Stanley Spencer, David Bomberg, and the Nash brothers. Dora Carrington won a number of prizes at the Slade for figure composition, figure painting and painting from the cast. 1914 was a year of upheaval as Dora Carrington left the Slade and the family moved to Ibthorpe House, Hurstbourne Tarrant, near Andover. During the following year, Dora Carrington became a frequent visitor to Garsington Manor, the home of Lady Ottoline and Philip Morrell and in December, met Lytton Strachey at Leonard and Virginia Woolf's house in Sussex. Through a legacy of ¹20 from a family friend, Dr Roberts, Dora Carrington was able to take a studio at 16 Yeoman's Row, London SW3 in the Spring of 1916; moving again in September to the 'Ark', 3 Gower Street, London W1. However, after a holiday with Lytton Strachey, Barbara Hiles and her fiancee Nicholas Bagenal in Wales over the summer, Dora Carrington started looking for a house for herself and Lytton. In October of that year, 'Mendel' a book by Gilbert Cannan was published which gave an account of Carrington and Gertler's relationship; their affair ended after Gertler attacked Lytton in the street in February 1918. Prior to this and after much searching, Dora Carrington and Lytton found a house, in November 1917, at Tidmarsh Mill, near Pangbourne, Berkshire. In the summer of 1918, John Hope Johnstone introduced Dora Carrington to Ralph Partridge who soon became a frequent visitor to Tidmarsh Mill. Carrington was able to retain a certain amount of financial independence through a small legacy that her father, who died in December 1918, left her in his will. Lytton had quickly established his reputation and financial security with the publication, in May, of 'Eminent Victorians'.
After a walking tour of Spain with her brother Noel and Ralph, during Easter 1919, Carrington and Ralph became lovers. In May, Carrington met Gerald Brenan, Ralph's best friend and they began to correspond. Carrington visited Gerald Brenan in Yegen, Granada in April 1920 with Ralph and Lytton. Later that month, Ralph and Carrington took on the first floor flat in James Strachey's house at 41 Gordon Square, for a trial period, with weekends at Tidmarsh. On 21 May 1921 Dora Carrington and Ralph married followed by a honeymoon in Venice; joined by Lytton for a second week of touring. In July, Gerald visited Tidmarsh and an intimacy with Dora Carrington began. In November, 'Chrome Yellow' a satire on Garsington by Aldous Huxley was published.
In 1922 Ralph met Frances Marshall for the first time at the Birrell & Garnett bookshop. By March 1922, Ralph had begun an affair with Valentine Dobree, whilst Carrington's unconsummated affair with Gerald became public in May. Following Gerald's return to Spain, Carrington was forbidden by Ralph to contact him again until November. Dora Carrington continued to spend time abroad with Lytton and friends, travelling to Tunis, Marseilles, Vermenton and in 1923 Paris, where she visited the Louvre. This year also saw Carrington begin her tinselled paintings on glass. By October, Carrington, Lytton and Ralph had found another house, Ham Spray in Wiltshire, which the latter two purchased in January 1924. In the preceeding month, there was a reconciliation in Spain between Ralph, Gerald and Carrington. On their way back through France, Frances Marshall fell in love with Ralph; Dora Carrington acted as chaperone. Lytton's play `The Son of Heaven' (1912), with costume designs by Carrington, was performed at the Scala Theatre, London in July 1925. By the following year Frances Marshall had moved into 41 Gordon Square so that Ralph could join her there; Lytton was to rent a ground-floor room in 1927. Dora Carrington started the decoration of George Ryland's room at King's College, Cambridge in January 1928. This year saw the end of her affair with Gerald and the beginning of her friendship with Beakus Penrose. Dora Carrington continued her trips abroad over this period visiting France and the Netherlands with Lytton, Ralph and Sebastian Sprott. In November 1929 Dora Carrington discovered that she was pregnant by Beakus Penrose and had an abortion. Dora Carrington painted her last work, a trompe l'oeil window for Bryan and Diana Guiness in October 1931. By November, Lytton had become gravely ill, dying on 21 January 1932, aged 52. Carrington had attempted suicide a few hours earlier. At the age of 38, Dora Carrington shot herself on 11 March 1932.
The material has been arranged into the following classes and sub-classes: TGA 797/1 Writings by Dora Carrington, TGA 797/2 Correspondence from Dora Carrington, TGA 797/3 Correspondence to Dora Carrington, Noel Carrington and David Garnett, TGA 797/4 Artworks, TGA 797/5 Published material, TGA 797/6 Photographs: TGA 797/6/1 Works by Carrington, TGA 797/6/2 Works by other artists, TGA 797/6/3 Places, TGA 797/6/4 People, TGA 797/6/5 Installation shots, TGA 797/6/6 Book illustrations.
Conditions Governing Access
Open. Access to all registered users
Presented by Noel Carrington in 1979.
Location of Originals
Most of the photocopied letters derive from originals housed in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.