Bloomsbury Group / J M Keynes connection
We are based in 43-46 Gordon Square, a set of buildings redolent of history.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, Vanessa (born in 1879) and Virginia (born in 1882) Stephens moved, with their brothers Thoby and Adrian, from the family home in fashionable but conventional South Kensington to 46 Gordon Square in bohemian Bloomsbury. They rented the house together until Vanessa Stephen's marriage in 1907 to the art critic Clive Bell, whereupon Virginia moved to set up a new home with her brother Adrian at 29 Fitzroy Square, to the west just across Tottenham Court Road.
Vanessa hung up Julia Margaret Cameron’s photographs of the Great Victorians (Tennyson, Meredith, Browning, Hershel) and of Julia Stephen in the hallway of 46 Gordon Square. Although these original prints have long since left, the ghost of her work, however, lingers on this and the neighbouring buildings. On some nights of the year, in autumn, they again become visible on the walls, projected during lectures or seminars on photography.
After Vanessa and Clive Bell moved from Bloomsbury to Sussex in 1916, 46 Gordon Square was occupied by the celebrated economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946). In 1925 he married the Russian Lydia Lopokova, a prima ballerina in the Diaghilev company. She moved in 1948 to Cambridge, but her housekeeper still lived in the basement flat as late as the early 1970s.
At Keynes's death in 1946, the house was acquired, with many others in the terrace, by the University of London. At some cost to the interiors, houses 42-47 Gordon Square were ruthlessly converted for the use of the new Institute for Computer Studies. Houses 45-47 were leased to Birkbeck College in 1974 and, since then, 46 Gordon Square has housed members of staff and lecture rooms of the College's Department of History of Art and Screen Media.