The Papers of Angelica Garnett (nee Bell)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This small collection comprises both correspondence donated by Angelica Garnett and selected papers. The most substantial part of the collection is the correspondence, comprising several letters exchanged with Angelica's mother, Vanessa Bell, as well as the correspondence between Angelica Garnett and her husband David. The selected papers consist of a few items, primarily memoirs, by Angelica Garnett and members of her family circle.

Administrative / Biographical History

Angelica Garnett was born on Christmas Day in 1918, the daughter of Vanessa Bell and the artist Duncan Grant. As a young child, Angelica was frequently injured or ill, but she was surrounded by 'admiring adults'. She had two fathers, a pseudo-grandfather in Roger Fry, two much older brothers, Julian and Quentin, and a devoted aunt, Virginia Woolf. As a girl, she studied and was fond of the fine arts, literature and history, but she made few substantial friends at the Longford Grove School in Essex, which she attended from 1929.

She left school at Easter 1935, visiting Rome and Paris in the next months, and returned to England to take up first acting and then art. During the period that followed Angelica was also confronted with a series of new relationships as she progressed through courtship and an affair with the artist David Garnett, and discovered that Clive Bell was not her father, a fact long known in Bloomsbury circles.

In 1942, Angelica married David Garnett, despite parental opposition. Her mother, Vanessa, was reconciled to the relationship by the arrival of four grandaughters - Amaryllis, Henrietta, Nerissa and Frances - and Angelica and her parents often went on holiday together thereafter. The relationship with Garnett eventually crumbled, however, and the two separated sometime before 1961. After her mother's death in that year, Angelica spent much time with her father, Duncan Grant, at Charleston. When he died in 1978 she began to live there again and has since become an active member of the Charleston Trust. She later moved to the south of France.

Conditions Governing Access

Letters by persons still living may only be read with the written permission of the author. The correspondence of Mrs. Garnett and her late husband, David Garnett, may only be read with Mrs. Garnett's permission. For further information, please contact the Archivist.

These papers are available for consultation at King's College, Cambridge, four days a week most of the year, by appointment only. For further details or to make an appointment please email archivist@kings.cam.ac.uk

Acquisition Information

This collection was presented to the King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge by Mrs. Angelica Garnett in June 1993.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue of Angelica Garnett's papers is available on the University's Janus website, and in hard copy in the Archive Centre.

Related Material

For further correspondence with Angelica Garnett (nee Bell), see King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge, JHB/1/10, JHB/2/4 and JHB/4/1 (under Angelica Bell); and &A/1/228 (under Angelica Garnett).

Bibliography

The biographical information above was provided by A. and V. Palmer, CHapos;Who's Who in Bloomsbury' (Brighton: Harvester, 1987), pp. 61-2.

Personal Names