Ralph Partridge

Reginald Sherring Partridge, MC & Bar (1894 – 30 November 1960), generally known as Ralph Partridge, a member of the Bloomsbury Group, worked for Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf, married first Dora Carrington and then Frances Marshall, and was the unrequited love of Lytton Strachey.


Partridge was born in 1894, the son of (William) Reginald Partridge, magistrate and collector of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh for the Indian Civil Service,[1][2] and Jessie (née Sherring).[3] His father was the son of a Devon solicitor while, on his mother's side, the Sherring family were clerics and Christian missionaries working in India at Varanasi. In his childhood Partridge had been known as 'Rex'.[4]

He was educated at Westminster School where he was Head Boy. Partridge won a scholarship to read Classics at Christ Church, Oxford, and rowed for Oxford University.[3] He was commissioned during World War I, joining the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and was seconded to the 48th Division Cyclist Company, returning to his Regiment after a year. He reached the rank of Major by the age of twenty-three, winning a Military Cross and Bar and the Croix de Guerre.[3][5][6]

Partridge was an Oxford friend of Dora Carrington's younger brother Noel. They met in 1918. Partridge fell in love with Carrington and eventually, in 1921, Carrington agreed to marry him[7] even if she was in love with Lytton Strachey. Strachey was himself more interested in Partridge.[8] An added complication was Dora Carrington's intermittent affair with one of Partridge's best friends, Gerald Brenan. Carrington, Partridge, and Strachey shared a Wiltshire farm-house, Ham Spray, in a complex triangular relationship later recorded in the 1995 film Carrington. Though Strachey spoke openly about his homosexuality with his Bloomsbury friends, and had relationships with a variety of men including Partridge, details of Strachey's sexuality were not widely known until the publication of a biography by Michael Holroyd in the late 1960s.[9]

In 1926, Partridge left Carrington to live with Frances Marshall, whom he had met while she was working at the London bookshop owned by David Garnett and Francis Birrell; at that time Partridge was working for Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press.[3] Meanwhile, Carrington had an affair with Bernard ‘Beakus’ Penrose, who was a friend of Partridge. After Carrington committed suicide in 1932, shortly after Lytton Strachey's death, Ralph and Frances married in 1933. The couple had one son, (Lytton) Burgo Partridge (1935–1963).[10] They lived in London during the week and repaired to Ham Spray at weekends. They lived happily at Ham Spray until Ralph's death in 1960.[9] Frances, the last surviving member and diarist of the Bloomsbury Group died, aged 103, in 2004.[11]




  1. The India List and India Office List for 1902, compiled from official records by direction of the Secretary of State for India in Council, Harrison & Sons, London, p. 527
  2. The Register of Blundell's School, with introduction and appendices, Arthur Fisher, Old Blundell's (School), 1904, p. 202
  3. "Ralph Partridge". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  4. Frances Partridge: The Biography, Anne Chisholm, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009
  5. Frances Partridge: The Biography, Anne Chisholm, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009
  6. "Last of a charmed circle". The Independent. 1998-08-06. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  7. "Lytton Strachey: The New Biography" by Michael Holroyd, 1994, p.485
  8. Frances Partridge, Bloomsbury groupie – Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved on 23 December 2007
  9. Holroyd, Michael, Lytton Strachey: A Critical Biography, 447.
  10. "Bloomsbury laid bare: Frances Partridge reveals the truth about her". The Independent. 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  11. Nicolson, Nigel (2004-02-09). "Obituary: Frances Partridge". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  12. Nicolson, Nigel (2004-02-09). "Obituary: Frances Partridge". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  13. Elley, Derek (1995-05-22). "Carrington". Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  14. Willis, John (2004-02-01). Screen World 2003. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9781557835284.
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