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David Garnett
(March 9, 1892 - February 17, 1981) U.K.

David Garnett

Writer, publisher


David Garnett was born in Brighton, the only child of the writer, critic and publisher Edward Garnett and his wife Constance, a translator of Russian. Through his father, he was descended from a writer and a philologist who both worked at what is now the British Library, then within the British Museum. Bloomsbury and the life of letters were embedded in David. As a child, he had a cloak made of rabbit skin and thus received the nickname "Bunny", by which he was known to friends and intimates all his life.

As a conscientious objector in the First World War, Garnett worked on fruit farms in Suffolk and Sussex with his lover Duncan Grant. A prominent member of the Bloomsbury Group, Garnett received literary recognition when his novel Lady into Fox, an allegorical fantasy, was awarded the 1922 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. He ran a bookshop near the British Museum with Francis Birrell during the 1920s. He also founded (with Francis Meynell) the Nonesuch Press. He wrote the novel Aspects of Love (1955), on which the later Andrew Lloyd Webber musical was based.

His first wife was the illustrator Rachel (Ray) Marshall (1891 - 1940), sister of the translator and diarist Frances Partridge. He and Ray, whose woodcuts appear in some of his books, had two sons, one of whom (Richard) went to Beacon Hill School. Ray died relatively young of breast cancer.

Garnett was bisexual, as were several members of the artistic and literary Bloomsbury Group, and he had affairs with Francis Birrell and Duncan Grant. On 25 December 1918 he was present at the birth of Grant's daughter by Vanessa Bell, Angelica, who was accepted by Vanessa's husband Clive Bell. Shortly afterwards he wrote to a friend "I think of marrying it. When she is 20, I shall be 46 - will it be scandalous?" On 8 May 1942, when Angelica was in her early twenties, they did marry, to the horror of her parents. She did not find out until much later that her husband had been a lover of her father.

The Garnetts lived at Hilton Hall, near St Ives in Huntingdonshire, where David Garnett kept a herd of Jersey cows. They had four daughters; eventually the couple separated. After his separation from Angelica, Garnett moved to France and lived in the grounds at the Château de Charry, Montcuq (near Cahors) in a house leased to him by the owners, Jo and Angela d'Urville. He continued to write and lived there until his death in 1981.


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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