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Strachey was born in London, the son of Sir Richard Strachey, an engineer. From 1899 to 1905, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, having previously read history at the University of Liverpool. The friendships he made at Cambridge, with people such as John Maynard Keynes, Leonard Woolf and Clive Bell, drew him into the Bloomsbury group. From 1904 to 1914 he contributed book and drama reviews to The Spectator magazine, published poetry, and wrote an important work of literary criticism, Landmarks in French Literature (1912). During World War I, he was a conscientious objector, and spent much time with like-minded people such as Lady Ottoline Morrell and the "Bloomsberries". His first great success, and his most famous achievement, was Eminent Victorians (1918), a collection of four short biographies of Victorian heroes. With a dry wit, he exposed the human failings of his subjects and what he saw as the hypocrisy at the centre of Victorian morality. This work was followed in the same style by Queen Victoria (1921). He died at his country house near Hungerford in Berkshire.
Strachey's unconventional private life was revealed in a biography (1967-8) by Michael Holroyd (see below). His relationship with the painter Dora Carrington was portrayed in the film Carrington (1995).
Lytton Strachey, Michael Holroyd 1994, ISBN 0099332914 (paperback)