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The Bloomsbury Ballerina by Judith Mackrell

The Bloomsbury Ballerina

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Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2008.

Costa Book Awards 2008 Judges' comment: "The vividly-described, extraordinary life of the lively and eccentric ballerina who was drawn by Picasso, loathed by the Bloomsbury set and adored by her husband, John Maynard Keynes."


The Bloomsbury Ballerina by Judith Mackrell

Born in 1891 in St Petersburg, Lydia Lopokova lived a long and remarkable life. Just five feet tall and a natural comedian, her vivacious personality and the sheer force of her charm propelled her to the top of Diaghilev's Ballet Russes.

Through a combination of luck, determination and talent, Lydia became a star in Paris, a vaudeville favourite in America, the toast of Britain and then, most unexpectedly, she married the world-renowned economist, and formerly homosexual, John Maynard Keynes.

Lydia's story is an extraordinary one, linking ballet and the Bloomsbury group, war, revolution and the economic policies of the super-powers. She was the Russian ballerina who flitted intriguingly through the lives of so many remarkable individuals, including Nijinsky, Picasso, Stravinsky and Virginia Woolf. Above all, she was an immensely captivating, eccentric and irreverent personality: a bolter, a true bohemian and, eventually, an utterly devoted wife.

Judith Mackrell brings Lopokova gloriously to life, and claims Lydia's place as a major character - not only in the history of ballet, but also in the history of the Twentieth Century.


Mackrell's enthralling biography restores Lydia Lopokova to her rightful position centre-stage."
Michael Arditti, DAILY MAIL

"Bloomsbury Ballerina is a compelling account of the extraordinary life and times of an unforgettable woman. Mackrell is to be congratulated." Henrietta Garnett, LITERARY REVIEW

"the English took Lydia Lopokova to their hearts and so Judith Mackrell is right that she merits a biography." Duncan Fallowell, DAILY TELEGRAPH

"Mackrell shows us exactly what made Lopokova one the last century's 'true originals.'" Frances Wilson, SUNDAY TIMES

About the Author

Judith Mackrell is a writer and Dance critic for the Guardian. She was the ghostwriter for Darcey Bussell's 'Life in Dance'. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

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Book Info

Publication date

10th April 2008


Judith Mackrell

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Orion Publishing Co




Biography / Autobiography
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites



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