(Sorry, no picture of Frances or the book, since I haven't time to request permission from the publisher)
my maternal grandmother, Ethel Maud Gleadhill.
Nan also had a large circle of friends, but they would have been very different to the Bloomsbury circle, as her life was one of life-long commitment to working for charities and community groups.
The youngest of six children, Frances grew up in a busy Victorian household; her father a well known architect and her mother, an active supporter in the Suffragette movement. Family life was filled with lots of social occasions and musical evenings at home with friends. The children were encouraged, without judgement, by a liberal thinking mother to explore life for themselves.
Frances was averse to boredom, rebelling against the restrictions of society's conventional expectations without doing anything outrageous. Her curiosity in the intellect, philosophy and Freudian thinking gave her a philosophical approach to life, which stood her in good stead during her unconventional relationship with Ralph Partridge while he was still married to artist, Dora Carrington who was in a love triangle with Lytton Strachey, a homosexual. After Lytton’s death from cancer Dora committed suicide, leaving Ralph and Frances free to marry in 1933. They adored each other and were very happy together with Frances accepting Ralph’s brief affairs early in the marriage. They constantly wrote letters to each other telling each other everything and correspondence also flowed between them and many friends.
As pacifists, Frances and Ralph railed against Churchill and England being at war, while personally they were at loggerheads with close friends. Life changed for Frances, she and Ralph now living outside London, as she had to do without servants - cooking and cleaning. She wasn’t put off by the rubble and ruins in a bombed London, still managing to go to the tailor’s, visit an art exhibition and enjoy a lunch of salmon, asparagus and zabaglione with a friend. She didn’t feel guilty, as “to enjoy herself was to triumph over the hated war”.
The focus in life for the Bloomsbury set was the pursuit of knowledge with love, personal relationships and individual pleasure to the forefront.
Photo: Pa, Maurice (eldest child), Maurice, my mother, Valma perched on the hall stand (usually featuring a potted plant)
I could imagine Mr Peacock in the British comedy, ‘Are you being served’, raising his eyebrows at my Pa’s handling such intimate women’s garments. Where were Mrs Slocombe and Miss Brahms?