"That wasn't even getting started with dinner."
"Exactly. Even lower-middle-class people had servants. However, Lytton didn't have money of his own, and it was a big family, and the parents were long-lived. So, there wasn't any money to go around. He didn't earn money. Having failed to get a Cambridge fellowship, he had no source of income except the allowance that his parents made him, which was small.
"Even writing book reviews made a big difference. I lived the same way when I was in my late 20s. Only for me, it was more icing on the cake. Whereas for him it was the flour -- writing book reviews. He didn't have a good time of it. Finally, he did make a bit of money in journalism, but it was only with the success of Eminent Victorians that he became well off. But, my goodness, how well off he became."
"You noted that in today's money, Eminent Victorians, published in 1918, would have earned $232,000."
"It was a huge amount, wasn't it? I learned such a lesson about that, that these things don't mean anything unless they're translated. And what does worry me is the best figures I could get were for 2002. I'm worried about whether in 10 years that will make any sense. But still."
"How did Lytton manage to convey his sexual preference without finding himself in legal trouble and social isolation?"
"I don't think he had any problem. He lived in a largely homosexual atmosphere. From Cambridge on, it was sort of vogue. The campy language and all that. It was the fashion and the style, and then it carried over from Cambridge. It was the style in the Apostles. Moore tolerated it. Bertie Russell didn't, but he, on the other hand, was brutish in his own heterosexual way. I don't think they had much of a problem about that because they all talked as though they were gay and some actually were. In fact, when Lytton did finally sleep with Carrington, his main concern was not to let anybody know. He was slightly embarrassed."
As to his letters, said Mr. Levy, "clearly Lytton meant to publish them. I felt all along, in fact, there were little P.S.'s that were notes to me. In one of the letters, which I can only quote from memory, Lytton writes to, I think Leonard Woolf, Virginia's husband, 'I wonder what our editor will make of this.' He seems to imply to Leonard that the editor would be American, Jewish, and from New York. Well, I'm only two-thirds of that. But he does seem from time to time to have been writing occasional notes to me."
"Would you explain for Americans who the Apostles are?"
"The Apostles were a secret society that was at Cambridge, that began in 1820 as a debating club; they were theologically minded, at first, as everybody at the universities were. Tutors and such were still in Holy Orders. So that was natural. It was only later on that you could hold a fellowship without accepting the 39 articles."
"The 39 Articles Of Faith?"
"Yes." (Thirty-Nine Articles, set of doctrinal statements generally accepted in the Anglican Communion as having primary doctrinal significance. The articles are not officially acknowledged as a binding creed or confession of faith, but they do record the doctrinal foundations on which Anglican tradition grew. -- Microsoft Bookshelf Encyclopedia, 1998.)
"That was something they wrestled with quite a lot in The Apostles. I don't know exactly why they were called The Apostles [founded in 1820 as The Cambridge Conversazione Society]. It might be because there were 12 to start with, but after the early days, there were never 12 again. Tennyson, Arthur Hallam were the great famous ones. All the Victorian worthies tended to be members, including lots of Stracheys and lots of Stephens [Virginia Woolf was born a Stephen], and Leonard Woolf, who would marry Virginia." (Other Apostles were Charles Darwin's brother, Erasmus; Roger Fry; Bertrand Russell; Winston Churchill's private secretary, Eddie Marsh; G.E. Moore; E.M. Forster; John Maynard Keynes; Rupert Brooke; Ludwig Wittgenstein; spies Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt.)
"Was Virginia's father an Apostle?"
"No. Oddly he wasn't, nor was her brother Toby. And, of course, Clive Bell wasn't, and it rankled Clive, it rankled him a lot. J.K. Stephen, Virginia's cousin, was, and his father Fitzjames Stephen was, and Arthur Strachey was. But later on, it got very, very introverted, and they worried a lot about who was fit to be a member and that sort of thing. That's when they get tedious and a bit boring."
"Does it still go on, The Apostles?"
"It does. It certainly does."
"It is amazing, isn't it? Mind you they've admitted women since the 1970s, I think. I think they might have run out of talent if they hadn't done that. The last time I'd heard anything about them, they were discussing town planning and related issues. I don't know what they do now. I'm completely out of touch."
"Lytton would have a fit, town planning."
"He wouldn't have liked that."
Now that Mr. Levy had spent so many years with the so-called "Bloomsberries" and more so with Lytton Strachey, did he like Lytton more or less?
"If you had asked me, oh, say two years ago, 'Do you like him as much as when you started work?' I might have said, 'No.' There was the matter of anti-Semitism to deal with. Frances Partridge said to me -- I had discussed this with her endlessly, as you can imagine -- practically every Christmas for years. She said to me one day, 'You just have to realize that we cannot read these letters without the knowledge of Hitler and the consequences of anti-Semitism.' But Lytton died in 1932 and had no notion of this. Well, yes, that's a valid point. Her other point was that Lytton, like Virginia, was so close to one particular Jew, namely Leonard, that it gave them a sort of 'street cred.' I'm not sure I entirely buy that."