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Giles Lytton Strachey  (1 March 1880 – 21 January 1932) was a British writer and critic. He was part of the Cambridge Apostles. He appears as Risley in E.M. Forster's novel Maurice (published posthumously in 1971). The Apes of God (1930) by Wyndham Lewis contains a satirical portrait of him as Matthew Plunkett. Wyndham Lewis portrayed him as Cedric Furber in Self-Condemned (1954). Leonard Woolf modelled one of the "epicures" in his novel The Wise Virgins (1914) on him. The character of Neville in Virginia Woolf's The Waves (1931) is based in part on Lytton Strachey.
A founding member of the Bloomsbury Group and author of Eminent Victorians, he is best known for establishing a new form of biography in which psychological insight and sympathy are combined with irreverence and wit. His biography Queen Victoria (1921) was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Strachey was born on 1 March 1880 at Stowey House, Clapham Common, London, the fifth son and eleventh child of Lieutenant General Sir Richard Strachey, an officer in the British colonial armed forces, and his second wife, the former Jane Grant, who became a leading supporter of the women's suffrage movement. He was named "Giles Lytton" after an early sixteenth-century Gyles Strachey and the first Earl of Lytton, who had been a friend of Richard Strachey's when he was Viceroy of India in the late 1870s. The Earl of Lytton was also Lytton Strachey's godfather. The Stracheys had thirteen children in total, ten of whom survived to adulthood, including Lytton's sister Dorothy Strachey and youngest brother, the psychoanalyst, James Strachey.
Lytton Strachey was part of the Cambridge Apostles like John Maynard Keynes. The relation between the two leaders within the Apostles was always an ambivalent one, riven by rivalry over their loves. There was the charming George Duckworth: Strachey discovered by accident that Keynes was also after him. There was abitter tussle as to who should sponsor him for the Apostolic fellowship; Keynes, being more ruthless, won. We learn that "for two months following the election of Duckworth, Lytton was filled with an almost demented hatred of Keynes." He even "launched an extraordinary onslaught upon Keynes before the assembled Apostles." Shockingly unethical, according to the gospel of the Venerable Moore. Shortly Strachey transferred his affections to Bernard Winthrop Swithinbank, and Duckworth transferred his to the irresistible Duncan Grant. So Strachey was one, or possible two, up. Then Lytton became ensnared by the beauty of Duncan. The next test for the Apostle Moore's gospel was when Lytton found out - again by accident, for he hadn't much psychological perception - that the predatory Keynes had captured Duncan from him, and that Duncan returned his love. Accepting the mutuality of this esteem, Lytton decided to apply Old Moore's almanac and strike the note of magnanimity: "I don't hate you and, if you were here now, I should probably kiss you, except that Duncan would be jealous, which would never do!" Keynes wrote back in similar mood: "Your letter made me cry."
Lytton Strachey by Dora Carrington, 1916
Lytton Strachey by Henry Lamb
Lytton Strachey Duncan Grant (1885–1978) Charleston
Philip Charles Thomson Ritchie; Lytton Strachey by Lady Ottoline Morrell vintage snapshot print, 1924 3 7/8 in. x 2 1/8 in. (97 mm x 54 mm) image size Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries and the Dame Helen Gardner Bequest, 2003 Photographs Collection NPG Ax141563
William David Hogarth; Lytton Strachey; Philip Charles Thomson Ritchie; Julian Vinogradoff (née Morrell) by Lady Ottoline Morrell vintage snapshot print, 1924 3 1/8 in. x 2 7/8 in. (78 mm x 74 mm) image size Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries and the Dame Helen Gardner Bequest, 2003 Photographs Collection NPG Ax141562a
Lady Ottoline Morrell (1873–1938), vintage snapshot print/NPG Ax142600. Dora Carrington; Stephen Tomlin; Walter John Herbert ('Sebastian') Sprott; Lytton Strachey, June 1926
St Andrew, Chew Magna
At a military tribunal concerning his application for Conscientious Objector status, in 1916, Lytton Strachey was asked what he would do if he saw a German soldier raping his sister. He replied, ‘I would try to get between them.’
Though Strachey spoke openly about his homosexuality with his Bloomsbury friends, and had relationships with a variety of men including Ralph Partridge, details of Strachey's sexuality were not widely known until the publication of a biography by Michael Holroyd in the late 1960s.
Dora Carrington, the painter, and Strachey participated in a lifelong open relationship, and eventually established a permanent home together at Ham Spray House, where Carrington would paint and Strachey would educate her in literature. In 1921 Carrington agreed to marry Ralph Partridge, not for love but to secure their three-way relationship that consisted of herself, Strachey and Partridge. Partridge eventually formed a relationship with Frances Marshall, another Bloomsbury member. Shortly after Strachey died, Carrington committed suicide. Partridge married Frances Marshall in 1933. Strachey himself had been much more interested sexually in Partridge, as well as in various other young men, including a secret sadomasochistic relationship with Roger Senhouse (later the head of the publishing house Secker & Warburg). Strachey's letters, edited by Paul Levy, were published in 2005.
W. Somerset Maugham first met Alan Searle in 1928, when Searle was "a very youthful looking twenty-three, a working class boy from Bermondsey, the son of a Dutch tailor and cockney mother". He was the lover of several famous older men, including Lytton Strachey, who called Searle his "Bronzino boy".
In 1930, after dining with various homosexual men, including E.M. Forster and Lytton Strachey, whose conversation strayed on to the topic of attractive youths, Virginia Woolf said she had received ‘a tinkling, private, giggling impression. As if I had gone into a men’s urinal.’ Of Eddy Sackville-West she said, quite simply, ‘I can’t take Buggerage seriously.’ Hermione Lee, her biographer, comments, as follows: ‘Like Simone de Beauvoir twenty years later … the feminist in her deplored the fact that gay men seemed to want to be women. And she must also have felt that homosexuality was, for the next generation of writers, an exclusive exclusive passport for literary success.’
The private letters of Lytton Strachey reveal that Roger Senhouse was his last lover, with whom he had a secretly sado-masochistic relationship in the early 1930s. According to a letter, Lytton "anxiously hovered, blowing hot and cold over Philip Ritchie, and alternately cold and hot over his companion, Roger Senhouse."
Strachey died of stomach cancer on 21 January 1932, aged 51. It is reported that his final words were: "If this is dying, then I don't think much of it." 
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