Bookplate for Lytton Strachey by Dora Carrington (1931)
A miniature piece of Bloomsbury history - this small bookplate by the artist Dora Carrington measures 1 3/8 inches high by 1 3/4 inches wide in it's largest version. The large version is rarer than the smaller but both have now become quite elusive. The tiny postage stamp size one measures only 1" by 3/4 ". Both have the words Lytton Strachey in a plaque or cartouche with folded edges surrounded by net-like cross hatching in a dark sepia tone.
A relic of the artist and Bloomsbury goddess. Carrington wrote of this bookplate in her diary (March 20 1931) rather prophetically:-
'As I stuck the book plates in with Lytton I suddenly thought of Sothebys and the book plates in some books I had looked at, when Lytton was bidding for a book and I thought: These books will one day be looked at by those gloomy faced booksellers and buyers. And suddenly a premonition of a day when these labels will no longer (be) in this library came over me. I longed to ask Lytton not to stick in any more.'
He died 10 months later. In despair at his death Carrington shot herself a few months after. The tiny bookplate is not uncommon, for example Strachey (or Dora Carrington) placed it in every volume of a complete Oxford Dictionary. However he was a bibliophile so it can also turn up in rare and valuable books. In commerce it can make as much as £100, but other bookplates by Carrington are much more elusive.
'Carrington' was one the best Bloomsbury movies, it starred Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce - Pryce was an exceptional Strachey and Rufus Sewell a fiery Mark Gertler. A sample from the Christopher Hampton script - Gertler is peeved that Carrington is in love with Strachey:
Mark Gertler: Haven't you any self-respect?
Dora Carrington: Not much.
Mark Gertler: But he's a disgusting pervert!
Dora Carrington: You always have to put up with something.