By drawing together strands in their subjects' family relations and environment, the authors provide fresh insight into the lives of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. In the formative years of their childhood the two sisters spent every summer with their large family and numerous friends at Talland House in St Ives. In her Introduction Helen Dunmore writes: 'Marion Dell and Marion Whybrow reveal how powerfully the "vision" of both Woolf and Bell sprang from their early life in St Ives.' The Prologue gives a portrait of this fishing town and artists' colony, 'on the very toe nail of England', at the time of the Stephen family's visits, from the early 1880s. Then come chapters on life at Talland House; the sisters' remarkable parents, Leslie Stephen and Julia Duckworth Stephen; and Vanessa and Virginia themselves, and how they developed their writing and painting. We see the Stephens' St Ives household with its constant succession of notable visitors such as the writer Henry James. Later, Marion Whybrow shows us Vanessa learning to paint, until finally basing herself for a lifetime's work as with her family at Charleston in Sussex, the centre for the artists of the Bloomsbury Group. M
Marion Dell lectures on literature for the Open University and other organisations and was commissioned to write articles for the website of The Hours film. Marion Whybrow lives in St Ives and is active in its artistic life and expert on its Arts Colony.