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ORDER OF SALE
Books from the Library of Lady Ottoline Morrell and Family 1 - 178
Various Properties 179
Modern First Editions and Literary Manuscripts from the Library of the late Dr Lionel Dakers CBE 180 - 238
From the Collection of Professor Dr Max Nänny, Zurich 239 - 246
The Property of René de Chochor 247 - 278
Various Properties 279 - 321
Lady Ottoline Morrell (1873-1938)
Breaking free of the conventional constraints on her sex, Lady Ottoline Morrell followed her rapturous dreams of beauty, art and human improvement to become one of the most extraordinary literary hostesses of the 20th-century. Huxleys and Asquiths, W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence, Diaghilev and Carrington, Katherine Mansfield and Graham Greene were just a few of the dazzling many who enjoyed the hospitality at Garsington, her richly decorated Jacobean manor house near Oxford. As the half-sister of the Duke of Portland and a cousin of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (who became Queen and then Queen Mother), Lady Ottoline used the resources of her class to encourage her friends to realise their visions, so playing a part in shaping the sensibility of the modern world.
As the 20th-century dawned, a lot was expected of the new. New science and philosophy would liberate people, women would get the vote, and art and literature would take entirely new paths. In 1910 Ottoline Morrell was among those who formed the Contemporary Art Society, which sometimes met at her Bloomsbury house and for which she bought a Gilbert Spencer and a Mark Gertler. In the same year she helped Roger Fry choose the pictures for the first Post-Impressionist Exhibition. The eruption onto the genteel London art scene of Cézannes, Van Goghs and Gauguins not only caused a sensation, but changed the course of British art, and Fry's own comment on the shift has reverberations in the visual arts even today: 'It was not surprising that a public which had come to admire above everything in a picture the skills with which an artist produced illusion should have resented an art in which such skill was completely subordinated to the direct expression of feeling.'
Within five years Lady Ottoline and her husband, the Liberal MP Philip Morrell, were involved in an even more momentous and resonant challenge to inherited attitudes. During the First World War, as her friend Siegfried Sassoon wrote, 'Soldiers at the front were in the habit of grumbling at personal discomforts and the mismanagement of military operations, but it was their business to go on believing that the Germans must be finally defeated however badly things worked out for the troops. Nobody suggested that it was a wicked outrage on humanity which - for the benefit of all belligerents - ought to be put to a stop at once. In 1916 it seemed as if it might go on for ever, and it was a case of "theirs not to reason why". At Garsington there was, it appeared, every reason for reasoning why at all hours of the day.' For there the Morrells harboured intellectuals, artists and, most notably, the philosopher Bertrand Russell, helping them to organise and protest against the war, and against war itself. Russell lost his job in Cambridge and was prosecuted for preaching pacifism, and Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Robert Graves and other friends of the Morrells bravely told the truth about modern warfare. If the anti-war movement we know today was not born at Garsington, it was certainly fostered there.
From girlhood Ottoline had been a voracious reader, often looking to poets and novelists for guidance on how to live, and the annotation in her books show her forever seeking for beauty and transcendence. This had been encouraged by Hilda Douglas-Pennant, who had travelled with her on the continent in 1896 and introduced her to the poetry of the Romantics. 'My luggage was mostly composed of books,' Ottoline wrote, 'large quantities of books, large library volumes of Ruskin amongst others. I did not know how to pack them, so I got an ordinary sack, covered it with a plush cover and tumbled the books into it ... I had also another brilliant idea, which was to put strong pockets all around the thick, full, red cape I wore, into which I packed a rampart of books.' She was devoted to writers of an earlier generation such as Conrad and James, Bridges and Hopkins, and in turn contemporaries such as Walter de la Mare and younger writers such as L. P. Hartley would be devoted to her.
In the introduction to Virginia Woolf's Diary, Quentin Bell wrote that 'Lady Ottoline Morrell lived in a social world as various as that of Virginia.' She exhibited a 'disregard for minor social conventions and had in the highest degree that capacity to behave oddly, but at the same time with natural dignity and even with grandeur, which may fairly be called aristocratic. Ottoline lived in many worlds and was, for a time, influential in Bloomsbury. She made it more worldly or, as Virginia put it: 'filled the place with lustre and illusion.' Partly as a result of her friendship with Woolf, Ottoline Morrell was involved with new movements in literature, as testified by books inscribed to her by Lytton Strachey, T. S. Eliot and Aldous Huxley, as well as Woolf's own. She was not only a subscriber to the Hogarth Press but a regular patron of Harold Monro's Poetry Bookshop and of other small publishers, presses and bookshops, buying books by Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound and James Joyce.
'Come then gather here -- all who have passion and who desire to create new conditions of life -- new visions of art and literature and new magic worlds of poetry and music,' she had written at Garsington, and her salons, parties and weekends drew remarkable combinations of people. D. H. Lawrence met E. M Forster; Stephen Spender talked poetry with Yeats; and Mark Gertler kept Aldous Huxley up half the night with his tales of love and woe. Ottoline's tall, striking figure and vivid, exuberant dress sense made her a spectacle, and her magnificence and munificence, her eccentricities and love of gossip made for legend. Not surprisingly, she appeared in books by many writers, under various layers of disguise. Too often, however, portrayal felt like betrayal, and her friendships with Lawrence, Greene, Huxley, Walter Turner and Osbert Sitwell all suffered accordingly.
Yet in the end it is for her friendships - even the vexed ones - that Ottoline Morrell will always be remembered. To them she dedicated her life, hoping 'that days at Garsington had strengthened your efforts to live the noble life: go live freely, recklessly, with clear Reason released from convention - no longer absorbed in small personal events but valuing personal affairs as part of a great whole - above all to live with passionate desire for Truth and Love and Understanding and Imagination.'
At her death, the debt that so many owed to her was partially repaid when T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf drafted a memorial tablet for her:
Faithful and courageous
Most generous most gentle
In the weakness of her body
She preserved, nevertheless
A brave spirit, unbroken,
Delighting in beauty and goodness
And the love of her friends.
BOOKS FROM THE LIBRARY OF LADY OTTOLINE MORRELL AND FAMILY