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Garnett in 1920, by Lady Ottoline Morrell
|Died||17 February 1981 (aged 88)|
|Children||6, including Amaryllis Garnett|
|Parent(s)||Edward Garnett (1868-1937)|
Constance Black (1861-1946)
David Garnett (9 March 1892 - 17 February 1981) was a British writer and publisher. As a child, he had a cloak made of rabbit skin and thus received the nickname "Bunny", by which he was known to friends and intimates all his life.
Garnett was born in Brighton, East Sussex, the only child of writer, critic and publisher Edward Garnett and his wife Constance Clara Black, a translator of Russian. His paternal grandfather and great-grandfather both worked at what is now the British Library, then within the British Museum.
A prominent member of the Bloomsbury Group, Garnett received literary recognition when his novel Lady into Fox, an allegorical fantasy, was awarded the 1922 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. He ran a bookshop near the British Museum with Francis Birrell during the 1920s. He also founded (with Francis Meynell) the Nonesuch Press. He wrote the novel Aspects of Love (1955), on which the later Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name was based.
His first wife was the illustrator Rachel "Ray" Marshall (1891-1940), sister of the translator and diarist Frances Partridge. He and Ray, whose woodcuts appear in some of Garnett's books, had two sons, the older of which was Richard Garnett (1923-2013), the writer. Ray died relatively young of breast cancer.
Garnett was bisexual, as were several members of the artistic and literary Bloomsbury Group, and he had affairs with Francis Birrell and Duncan Grant. On 25 December 1918 he was present at the birth of Grant's daughter by Vanessa Bell, Angelica, who was accepted by Vanessa's husband Clive Bell. Shortly afterwards he wrote to a friend: "I think of marrying it. When she is 20, I shall be 46 - will it be scandalous?" On 8 May 1942, when Angelica was in her early twenties, they did marry, to the horror of her parents. She did not find out until much later that her husband had been a lover of her father.
They had four daughters: in order, Amaryllis, Henrietta, and the twins Nerissa and Frances; eventually the couple separated. Amaryllis Virginia Garnett (1943-1973) was an actress who had a small part in Harold Pinter's film adaptation of The Go-Between (1970). She drowned in the Thames, aged 29. Henrietta Garnett married Lytton Burgo Partridge, her father's nephew by his first wife Ray, but was left a widow with a newborn infant when she was 18; she oversaw the legacies of both David Garnett and Duncan Grant. Nerissa Garnett (1946-2004) was an artist, ceramicist, and photographer. Fanny (Frances) Garnett moved to France where she became a farmer.
After his separation from Angelica, Garnett moved to France and lived in the grounds at the Château de Charry, Montcuq (near Cahors), in a house leased to him by the owners, Jo and Angela d'Urville. Garnett continued to write and lived there until his death in 1981.