In 2020, Penguin Classics reissued Dorothy Strachey’s Olivia (1949), which tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl from London sent to a French boarding school on the outskirts of Paris, Les Avons, where she falls passionately in love with one of her teachers, Mlle Julie. Olivia is an exceptional narrative in terms of its content, its composition, and its publication history. Strachey (1865-1960) was part of the prominent Strachey family, whose father played a key role in the development of the British Empire in India as a military engineer. Dorothy’s five siblings included Lytton Strachey, author of Eminent Victorians (1918); James Strachey, translator of Freud’s English Standard Edition; Pernel Strachey, who became principal of Newnham College, Cambridge; Pippa Strachey, who became Secretary of the London Society of Women’s Suffrage; and Marjorie Strachey, a writer and French teacher. Dorothy, not to be outdone, became the official English translator of the eminent French author, André Gide.
Dorothy Strachey, the older sister of the biographer and essayist Lytton Strachey, and of the psychoanalyst and translator of Sigmund Freud, James Strachey, published her only novel, Olivia, in 1949, under the pseudonym of “Olivia.”
Queer Bloomsbury is a book in two parts, and as such, evokes two different responses. “Part One: Ground-Breaking Essays” consists of lightly-edited reprints of essays by Carolyn Heilbrun, Christopher Reed, George Piggford, Bill Maurer, and Brenda Helt ordered chronologically from Heilbrun’s 1968 “The Bloomsbury Group” to Helt’s 2010 “Passionate Debates on ‘Odious Subjects.’”