Lady Ottoline Morrell | photographic portraits

Related to both the burrowing Duke of Portland and the largely ground-dwelling Queen Mother, Lady Ottoline Morrell was steeped in privilege and eccentricity, qualities which she put in the service of artists and writers. As a patron and hostess to the Bloomsbury set and others she was a key cultural catalyst in the first third of the 20th century. Her photographs, pasted into albums and never intended for a wide audience, nonetheless bear eloquent witness to a life lived in fine company.

D. H. Lawrence 1915

D. H. Lawrence

Bertrand Russell, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey

Augustus John 1924

Augustus John

Aldous Huxley 1917

Aldous Huxley

Walter de la Mare 1924

Walter de la Mare

W. B. Yeats 1920

W. B. Yeats

Virginia Woolf 1917

Virginia Woolf

Thomas Hardy 1924

Thomas Hardy

T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf 1924

T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf

Sylvia Brooke 1917

Sylvia Brooke

Self portrait

Marc Allégret and André Gide 1920

Marc Allégret, André Gide

Lord Berners 1924

Lord Berners

Katherine Mansfield 1916-17

Katherine Mansfield

E. M. Forster 1920

E. M. Forster

Further reading
British Bohème, Concerning the eccentricities of Ronald Firbank, Bohemian twilight, Strange Flowers guide to London, part 2 and part 3, To the very dregs, Circles: Evan Morgan (Augustus John)
Rare bird, Birds’ lament, A Casati family tree, Peer to peer, Come on Algernon, Circles: Evan Morgan, some pigeons are more equal than others (Lord Berners)
At home with Nina Hamnett, Arthur Cravan: poet, boxer, blogger, The con artist formerly known as Prince (André Gide)
Hardy survivor, Jacques-Émile Blanche | portraits (Thomas Hardy)
Sarawak job, The white caliph, Strange Flowers guide to London: part 3, Places: The Astana (Sylvia Brooke)



  1. Linda Hollander

    Oh, I never get tired of looking at photos. These have an interesting quality of posed/not posed, don’t you think? The backgrounds are quite casual, the pose is informal, and yet…i don’t know, there does not seem to be the quality of a “candid”, perhaps that came later, as it took so long to make the photograph.

    But I recently saw photos taken at the Titanic and they were pretty damned candid. I was told they were original photos, not re-created, and not stills from the movie. I am skeptical.

    James, I’m always in awe, how the heck do you find this stuff?? I loved yesterday’s (?) poem, by M. Tirzial (?), and am saving it to use in the book. The tone is so beautiful and evocative, and it’s right up Winnie’s alley!

    As always, thank you for this incredible blog.


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  7. Hugh Noel Pitcher

    But they’re all looking to camera, so how could they be any other than posed?

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