Ottoline comes of age-sorting out the men

Ottoline, 1900.

Sorting out the men in Ottoline's life would be tantamount to diagramming a mathematical formula-not my forte.

Ottoline loved men- but in what sense?
Was she forever in search of the father she lost at so early an age?

Ottoline's father- as a young Lieutenant General, above and as a distinguished Major, below

Language complicates things considerably. Were her liaisons all about passionate love-ergo sex or was it courtly love? The phrase used often  "making love" was a very different from its context today. It can not be denied Ottoline was attracted to men-many men-and many men at once. She had to be intimate-and by that I mean having sex with at least one or two of them-though it is never clear in her memoirs. She seems to have been in Love with Love.

She received countless letters-love letters-declarations of love-lovers thoughts of leaving wives-lovers leaving wives and so it goes.
She was threatened with being named correspondent by Bertrand Russell's wife if he followed through with his threats to divorce her in favour of Ottoline. In turn he might threaten to-if she did so- step out in front of a bus. There was drama surrounding Ottoline to be sure.
This "lover" would be leaving-while another on his way up the drive.

 Philip Morrell, 1903 by George Charles Beresford

No wonder she had health issues and became exhausted retreating-many times with her husband Phillip- to restore her health. Phillip seems to be the one man that made no demands on his wife.


  1. I believe I own every book every written on Ottoline. In the beginning of my obsession with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group (many, many years ago) I became fascinated by Ottoline and the role she played in this circle of players, sometimes central, sometimes peripheral. I think they had a love/hate relationship with her. They maligned her but also admired her abilities to bring them all together and introduce new artists to their circle. She was a bit like Sara Murphy in that sense, having a talent for connecting people who needed to be connected. She was a true original and I look forward to learning more about her from your new blog. I think I once stayed near Garsington when I was at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Oxfordshire. I searched for it but sadly could not find it.

  2. Sunday- I have tried to do the same-just picked up a small book of her letters. She left a wealth of materials and photographs for Us. I don't know if I can give you any New info-other than adding my own observations and please keep in touch on any things you can add! I know there is a blog post by someone that was at Garsington. I will find it I know It is bookmarked somewhere and post the link soon. PGT