Virginia Woolf's life and death among subjects of new Bloomsbury archive

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Two collections of letters and photographs from the Bloomsbury Group - the controversial British intellectual circle of the first half of the 20th century - are being released for public use, announced King's College Cambridge on March 19. Included are thousands of pages of correspondence with Bloomsbury artists including Virginia Woolf, as well as 30 albums of photographs featuring EM Forster, Lytton Strachey, and other key Bloomsbury members.

Among highlights of the collection are letters from author Virginia Woolf, including one describing the news of the death of painter Vanessa Bell's son, Julian (also Woolf's nephew), who was killed driving an ambulance during the Spanish Civil War.

Other materials document the events surrounding the suicide of the artist Dora Carrington, Strachey's companion, as well as the reaction of Woolf's family to her disappearance in 1941.

A letter from Clive Bell (Woolf's brother-in-law) on April 3, 1941, shortly after Woolf's final disappearance, reads: "I'm not sure whether The Times will by now have announced that Virginia is missing. I'm afraid there is not the slightest doubt that she drowned herself about noon last Friday... Her stick and footprints were found by the edge of the river."

The collections were owned by Bloomsbury novelist Rosamond Lehmann and diarist and writer Frances Partridge, who became friends at Cambridge University in the years after World War I and there developed links with founding members of the Bloomsbury Group. Lehmann became a significant novelist of the period with her first novel, Dusty Answer (1927). Frances Partridge (née Marshall) is the subject of a new biography by Anne Chisholm.

Further details about the collections, now available to the public, can be found at http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/archive-centre.

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