Although W. Somerset Maugham rarely spoke publicly about his sexuality, he has been embraced as one of the most renowned gay authors of all time. "I was a 1/4 normal & 3/4 queer, but I tried to persuade myself it was the other way round," he said. "That was my greatest mistake."
Maintaining the habit of writing for several hours each morning, Maugham produced some 30 plays, 24 novels, & more than 100 magazine articles. With his cynical wit & straightforward style, he was more popular among masses than the literary set, & he always felt like an outsider to the establishment. Although Maugham's highly acclaimed works – including Of Human Bondage (1915), The Constant Wife (1927), & The Razor's Edge (1944) made him the most famous & wealthiest author of his day, he never received the honor of knighthood.
The moment I put down Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, I picked up Mrs. Dalloway to follow the connection, It was the 1st time in decades that I had read any Virginia Woolf, but in my early 20s I went on a serious Bloomsbury Group jag, reading everything by & about the remarkable group.
The Bloomsbury Group has gone down in history for the many contributions its members made to literature & art. The group's intellectual core was Virginia Stephen, who became Virginia Woolf when she married in 1912. Today she is recognized as one of the great modernist novelists. She & her husband, Leonard, founded Hogarth Press, a publishing house that brought some of the most significant literature of the era into print including T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland.
The group was also interesting because they demonstrated a sexual freedom that was very ahead of their time. Beginning in 1925, Virginia Woolf had a passionate affair with the dashing Vita Sackville-West. In the first flush of romance, Woolf wrote what has become a classic of gay fiction, the experimental fantasy Orlando (1927), which argued that love & passion ignore gender, & that gender itself is fluid.
Others in the Bloomsbury group gravitated to new ways of looking at love. Although Vanessa Stephen married Clive Bell, the great love of her life was Duncan Grant, who was gay & had been sexually involved with her brother Adrian. During World War I, they lived together at a country estate with David "Bunny" Garnett, who was a lover of both.
3way relationships with a gay twist were common within the Bloomsbury circle. Strachey was gay, but in the early days of Bloomsbury, he proposed marriage to Virginia. In the 1920s, he lived in platonically with painter Dora Carrington. When they both fell in love with the same man, Carrington married the object of their mutual desire, & the 3 set up housekeeping together. The cross-dressing Carrington had affairs with women, confiding to a friend that she had "more ecstasy" with female lovers than with men - "& with no shame."
Virginia Woolf was the center, the gravity & the soul of the group, which unraveled after she drowned herself in the spring of 1941.