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The Strachey family

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The Strachey family

by Graystone Bird
albumen print on the photographer's printed mount, circa 1893
7 7/8 in. x 9 1/2 in. (199 mm x 241 mm)
Purchased, 1979
Photographs Collection
NPG x13122

Artistback to top

  • Graystone Bird (1862-1943), Photographer. Artist or producer of 8 portraits.

Sittersback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Hamilton, Peter; Hargreaves, Roger, The Beautiful and the Damned: The Creation of Identity in Nineteenth Century Portrait Photography, 2001 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 6 June to 7 October 2001), p. 26
  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 139 Read entry

    The sitters are (left to right) : James Beaumont Strachey 1887-1967, psycho-analyst; Giles Lytton 1880-1932, critic and biographer; Oliver 1874-1960, musician, civil servant and author; Ralph 1868-1923; Richard John 1862-1935, soldier; Sir Richard; Jane Maria Grant, Lady Strachey 1840-1928; Elinor, Mrs Rendel 1860-1945; Dorothy 1865-1960, wife of the artist Simon Bussy; Philippa 1872--1968; Joan Pernel 1876-1951, and Marjorie 1882-1962.

    As soldier, engineer, botanist and administrator, Sir Richard Strachey devoted his life to the service of India, where he rose to be Head of the Public Works department (1862-5) and Inspector-General of Irrigation (1866). In retirement he pursued his prodigiously wide interests, and was for a time Chairman of the East Indian Railway, President of the Royal Geographical Society, and Chairman of the Meteorological Council. The member of a distinguished intellectual family, many of his own children played a significant part in English social and intellectual life, above all Lytton, who was a leading member of the Bloomsbury Group.

    In this photograph by the obscure Bath photographer Bird, whose studio was at 38 Milsom Street, the family are displayed with characteristic eccentricity in perfect sym-metry, in imitation of the reliefs of kneeling figures often found on seventeenth-century English tombs. It was probably taken at the Strachey family home of Sutton Court, Somerset, and is part of a large group of Strachey family photographs purchased from the Strachey Trust in 1979.

  • Spalding, Frances, The Bloomsbury Group, 2013, p. 106
  • Spalding, Frances, Insights: The Bloomsbury Group, 2005, p. 93

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Events of 1893back to top

Current affairs

Keir Hardie is among the group who formalise the Independent Labour Party, and is elected chairman and party leader at the opening conference. Gladstone continues with his campaign for home rule in Ireland, introducing the Second Home Rule Bill, which is passed by the Commons but vetoed by the Lords.

Art and science

Art Nouveau becomes a fully established movement in European art and design, after emerging in different countries and across different disciplines at the start of the decade. Key figures include the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar, and the designer Alphonse Mucha. Art Nouveau is characterised by the 'whiplash' line, a decorative line which represents graphically the desire to break free from traditional aesthetic constraints.


Gandhi's ejection from a South African train carriage on account of his race is the catalyst for his non-violent activism in leading the struggle for Indian independence from British rule.
New Zealand becomes the first self-governing country to grant women the vote.
The Chicago World's Fair is visited by more than 200 million people, with Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse introducing electrical power to illuminate the fair.

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Peter Brownlee

29 October 2017, 00:23

On Marjorie's death date, she was apparently still alive in 1963 and died in 1964 -- "Marjorie Strachey went into the same nursing home as Pippa in 1963.
Julia Strachey who visited her there noted that she had not lost her sense of
humour. Her letter describing a visit there to her friend Frances Partridge is
headed ‘a lighter note’. ‘When I last visited Aunt Marjorie in her nursing
home’, she wrote, 'she said to me, ‘Sometimes at nights I feel quite mad. But they don’t manage these things well here. The other night I was so confused I thought I was Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar -- in fact dying. So I rang the bell and the Nurse came and told me always to ring the bell if I felt worried. But if one’s Nelson -- and dying -- how can one ring an electric bell?" Julia asked how the nurse was supposed to know that Marjorie was Nelson. Marjorie replied "she might at least have asked". Marjorie died in the nursing home the following year" (i.e. 1964). Caine B. (2005) Bombay to Bloomsbury: a Biography of the Strachey family, 2005, Oxford University Press, p.400 (citing Julia Strachey to Frances Partridge, 23 August 1963, in Partridge F. and Strachey J. (1983) Julia, Gollancz, p.281.

Peter Brownlee

29 October 2017, 00:05

Left to right: James Strachey (1887-1967), Giles Lytton Strachey (1880-1932), Ralph Strachey (1868-1923), Oliver Strachey (1874-1960), Richard (Dick) Strachey (1861-1935), Richard Strachey (1817-1908), Jane Maria Strachey (1840-1928), Elinor Strachey (1859-1944), Dorothy Strachey (1865-1960), Philippa Strachey (1872-1968), Joan Pernel Strachey (1876-1951), Marjorie Strachey (1882-1964).

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