The British Library holds the papers of Lady Ottoline Morrell, consisting of diaries, notebooks, letters and photographs. This is Morrell’s journal for 27 May 1926 to 2 September 1927, recording life at Garsington.
Born into an aristocratic family in 1873, Morrell was a society hostess and influential patron of the arts. At her homes in Bedford Square, London, and Garsington Manor, Oxfordshire, Morrell hosted writers including D H Lawrence, T S Eliot and Virginia Woolf, and artists such as Mark Gertler, Augustus John and Jacob Epstein. During World War One Morrell and her husband, Philip, turned Garsington into a refuge for pacifist artists and writers by providing them with employment on the estate’s farm.
At six foot tall with copper hair, Morrell had a reputation for being a unique, flamboyant dresser, deeply religious and an excellent gardener. She was also known for having several affairs with men and women from literary, artistic and political circles. She was generous, and friends confided their secrets in her. Morrell’s eccentricities, however, also attracted mockery and cruelty. Famously, she appears in caricature form in several novels, including Lawrence’s Women in Love. Later, however, many acknowledged that Morrell was a remarkable and influential figure within their lives and careers.
Photographs of Virginia Woolf and T S Eliot
Morrell regularly took photographs, which she pasted into her journal entries. Shown here are photographs taken in June 1926 of Virginia Woolf, an undated photograph of the poet T S Eliot, and a series of dramatic, experimental self-portraits.