If the Bloomsbury Group collectively excelled at one thing, it was their ability to bring the subcultures of society into the spotlight through their art. London in the early 20th century was a rapidly changing landscape that pushed boundaries, and the Bloomsbury Group quickly became the face of this trend.
Particularly, the Bloomsbury Group paved the way for Queer culture in London. EM Forester, Virginia Woolf, and Duncan Grant were all known to have same sex relationships, and actively incorporated queer themes and relationships into their work. The high profile trial and persecution of Oscar Wilde for homosexuality in the late 19th century had forced queer individuals into the shadows, and increased homophobic opinions and distrust of the Queer community throughout England.
The Bloomsbury Group, in their refusal to be edited by cultural norms, provided a stark contrast to the content created by the modernist movement, which Simon Watney, in his talk “Duncan Grant and Queer Bloomsbury”, describes “seemingly relentless heterosexuality” as one of its main features (Watney). Virginia Woolf’s novel, Orlando, is a direct criticism of this compulsory heterosexuality. In one notable passage in Orlando, Virginia writes:
If the consciousness of being of the same sex had any effect at all, it was to quicken and deepen those feelings which she had had as a man.”
The Bloomsbury Group directly challenged the laws the English government had put in place to persecute Oscar Wilde, and through their art, challenged the perceptions of Queer individuals in society.
Posted by Lindsey Martin.
Schulz, David. “Redressing Oscar: Performance And The Trials Of Oscar Wilde.” The MIT Press: Cambridge, Mass. 2 (1996): 37. Literature Resource Center. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.
Watney, Simon. “Duncan Grant and Queer Bloomsbury.” Charleston. 13 Jan. 2011. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.
Woolf, Virginia. Orlando; a Biography. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973. Print.