Lady Ottoline Violet Anne Morrell (1873 – 1938) was an English aristocrat and society hostess. She was part of the literary Bloomsbury clique, along with Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Lytton Strachey, Clive and Vanessa Bell, E.M. Forster and more.
Perhaps Lady Ottoline’s most interesting literary legacy is the wealth of representations of her that appear in 20th-century literature. She was the inspiration for Mrs Bidlake in Aldous Huxley’s Point Counter Point, for Hermione Roddice in D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love, for Lady Caroline Bury in Graham Greene’s It’s a Battlefield, and for Lady Sybilline Quarrell in Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On. The Coming Back (1933), another novel which portrays her, was written by Constance Malleson, one of Ottoline’s many rivals for the affection of Bertrand Russell. Some critics consider her the inspiration for Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley. Huxley’s roman à clef, Crome Yellow depicts the life at a thinly-veiled Garsington, one of her estates.
Non-literary portraits are also part of this interesting legacy, for example, as seen in the artistic photographs of her by Cecil Beaton. There are portraits by Henry Lamb, Duncan Grant, Augustus John, and others. Carolyn Heilbrun edited Lady Ottoline’s Album (1976), a collection of snapshots and portraits of Morrell and of her famous contemporaries, mostly taken by Morrell herself.
Portrait of Lady Ottoline Morrell by George Charles Beresford, 4 June 1903
Lady Ottoline Morrell by Cavendish Morton
platinum print, 1905
Portrait of Lady Ottoline Morrell by Adolf de Meyer, c. 1912
Lady Ottoline Morrell by Baron Adolph de Meyer
platinum print, 1912
Lady Ottoline Morrell, by Cecil Beaton (1927)
© Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby’s London
Lady Ottoline Morrell, 1929.
Lady Ottoline Morrell in her bedroom at Amerongen, 1925.