Miranda Seymour

The Black Underwear was a Practical Choice

Painted Shadow: a Life of Vivienne Eliot


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‘We are all lonely wanderers in a very barren land,’ Ottoline Morrell wrote in her private journal in the autumn of 1919. She was feeling miserable after packing up the furniture of the ‘darling old house’ in Bedford Square, which was being put up for sale. Her comment derived, however, from a dinner she had just attended with the couple she had come to regard as her dearest friends, Tom and Vivienne Eliot. In 1919, the Eliots had been married for four years and The Waste Land (which might have been the inspiration for Ottoline’s comment) had not yet been written. Carole Seymour-Jones’s deeply felt biography demonstrates how well that reflection already applied to both members of this unhappy partnership.

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