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The Angel of Charleston

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Grace Higgens (1903-1983), described by Duncan Grant as "the angel of Charleston," arrived at the Gordon Square house of Vanessa Bell in June 1920. She was to remain with the family for 50 years as housemaid, nurse, cook, and finally housekeeper at Charleston, the country house in Sussex where the Bell family spent their holidays during the interwar period and then lived permanently until the 1970s. This book tells Grace's story for the first time and is based on her diaries and correspondence. Grace was high-spirited with a robust sense of fun; she read all she could and often sat for her painter employers, who much admired her looks. Her numerous diaries recount her years in Gordon Square, Charleston, and the South of France and their vivid picture of life with the Bells and their friends complement what we know of the "above stairs" world of the Bloomsbury set. With great humor, Grace describes the varied denizens of Charleston, such as Duncan Grant, Lydia Lopokova, Roger Fry, E. M. Forster, and, of course, Virginia Woolf: "I met Mr and Mrs Leonard Woolf, riding on their bicycles to Charleston. They looked absolute freaks." There are moving entries about the death of Vanessa Bell in 1961, and of Grace's final years at Charleston looking after the elderly Duncan Grant. This charming book describes a little-known side of the Bloomsbury world and illuminates a lost era of domestic service.

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Additional Information

Additional Information

Author Stewart McKay
Binding Hardcover
Condition New
Pages 189
ISBN-13 9780712358675
Publisher British Library Publishing


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