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Carrington, Dora (1893-1932)  
page: 1  2  

The year 1926 marked the beginning of mounting sadness in Carrington's brief life. Partridge had begun to live openly in London with Frances Marshall while spending only weekends at Ham Spray.

In 1928 Carrington met Bernard Penrose, a sailor and Partridge's best friend. She experienced renewed creativity while she was with "Beakus" and her letters from that period are profusely illustrated. Penrose, however, wanted Carrington to make an exclusive commitment to him, a demand Carrington refused because she could not end her relationship with Strachey. The affair, her last one with a man, ended badly when Carrington became pregnant and had an abortion.

Strachey became violently ill in November 1931 with what doctors thought was either typhoid fever or ulcerative colitis. He grew worse by the day and Carrington, who suffered from depressive episodes, attempted to asphyxiate herself in the garage at Ham Spray the following month, but was rescued by Partridge.

Strachey, who had been Carrington's companion for seventeen years, died at the age of 52 on January 21, 1932. Carrington's depression increased even as friends tried to keep her occupied. Six weeks after Strachey's death she borrowed a gun from a neighbor to shoot rabbits in the garden. She shot herself on March 11, 1932 and died shortly before her 39th birthday.

Dora Carrington painted the people and places she loved the most during her life. Her paintings include The Mill at Tidmarsh (1918), a Portrait of Jane Maria Grant, Lady Strachey (1920), a Portrait of Annie Stiles (1921), as well as the others mentioned previously.

Carrington's decorative arts projects included fireplace tiles, bookplates, and inn signs such as that for the Black Swan (1917). She also made quilts, marbled papers for bookbinding, discovered a new technique for patterning on leather, and even ventured into filmmaking.

Much of Carrington's creative energy went into decorative treatments for her friends as well as at Tidmarsh and Ham Spray. Her last painting was a trompe l'oeil work on the front of her neighbors Brian and Diana Guinness's house in May 1931.

Carrington lacked confidence in her own work and undervalued it. She was a perfectionist whose work never met her expectations. While some people in her life criticized Carrington for spending too much time illustrating her correspondence, the illustrations were themselves an art form, as became apparent when her letters were published in 1970. The people who denigrated her decorative projects during her lifetime failed to recognize her talent as a designer.

There were no exhibitions of Carrington's work during her lifetime. The first exhibition was held at the Upper Grosvenor Galleries in London in 1970. A second exhibition was held at the Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford in 1978. Curated by Noel, Carrington's brother, it was more comprehensive in coverage and included Carrington's paintings, drawings, and decorative works.

Most recently, there was a retrospective of Carrington's work at the Barbican Art Gallery in London during 1995. Despite the posthumous recognition that she has gained, she remains the most neglected serious painter of her generation.

Ray Anne Lockard

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Blythe, Ronald. First Friends: Paul and Bunty, John and Christine--and Carrington. London: Viking Press, 1999.

Bradshaw, Tony. The Bloomsbury Artists: Prints and Book Design. James Beechey, intro. Angelica Garnett, foreward. Aldershot: Scolar, 1999.

Carrington, Dora. Carrington: Letters and Extracts from Her Diaries. David Garnett, ed. Noel Carrington, biographical note. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Rev. ed. London: Thames and Hudson, 1980.

Carrington, Noel. Carrington: Paintings, Drawings, and Decorations. Sir John Rothenstein, foreword. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1980.

Caws, Mary Ann. Carrington and Lytton: Alone Together. London: Cecil Woolf, 1996.

_____. Women of Bloomsbury: Virginia, Vanessa and Carrington. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Gerzina, Gretchen Holbrook. Carrington: A Life. New York: Norton, 1989.

Hill, Jane. The Art of Dora Carrington. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994.


    Citation Information
    Author: Lockard, Ray Anne  
    Entry Title: Carrington, Dora  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated August 15, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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