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<<  -- 3 --  Robert Hugill    PERSONAL CONNECTIONS


Whilst at Cambridge, RVW continued to socialise with the Fishers and eventually proposed to Adeline in 1895. In 1896 Adeline went up to London to be with Stella Duckworth who had recently returned from honeymoon and was ill. In 1897, to the consternation of her family, Stella died. In 1898 Virginia would describe going to the opera with RVW and Adeline, who held hands through the performance. But relations between the Fishers and the Stephens were often frosty. In a letter Virginia would refer to 'ice-cold Adeline' descending from her heights and at one point Adeline said to Virginia that all was over between them though relations were patched up.

In 1910, Virginia got involved in the Dreadnought hoax in which she, her brother Adrian, Duncan Grant and Horace Cole pretended to be an Abyssinian prince and his entourage and conned the authorities into letting them have a tour of the HMS Dreadnought. Horace Cole was a friend of Adrian Stephen and a great practical joker. Though the hoax went off successfully, unfortunately the flag commander on the vessel was William Fisher, Adeline's brother. He was understandably furious when he discovered that his cousins were involved.

There is just one final link. In the 1930s RVW became involved in the project to create a ballet based on William Blake's Job. The scenario had been devised by the Blake scholar, Geoffrey Keynes, who was married to RVW's cousin Margaret Darwin (grand-daughter of the naturalist Charles Darwin). Geoffrey Keynes was the brother of economist (and Bloomsbury Group member) Maynard Keynes and Maynard was one of the group who provided financial support for the Camargo Society's performances. (The Camargo Society was an early forerunner of the Sadlers Wells Ballet.)

From a musical point of view these links, via family and friends, between RVW and the Bloomsbury Group are hardly of major importance. But it remains fascinating, nonetheless, how RVW and Adeline's lives seemed to be perpetually bound up with the group's various members, especially as the Bloomsbury Group is notable mainly for its literary and artistic endeavours and is not especially remembered for its musical links. Perhaps what these links do tell us, is the remarkable way that the English upper-middle classes of the period were so interlinked and intermarried.

Copyright © 5 February 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK




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