John Maynard Keynes


John Maynard Keynes : biography

5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946

Attitudes in the Bloomsbury Group, in which Keynes was avidly involved, were relaxed about homosexuality. Keynes, together with writer Lytton Strachey, had reshaped the Victorian attitudes of the Cambridge Apostles: "since [their] time, homosexual relations among the members were for a time common", wrote Bertrand Russell.Holroyd, p. 103 The artist Duncan Grant, whom he met in 1908, was one of Keynes’s great loves. Keynes was also involved with Lytton Strachey, though they were for the most part love rivals, and not lovers. Keynes had won the affections of Arthur Hobhouse,Holroyd, pp. 108–110. as well as Grant, both times falling out with a jealous Strachey for it.Holroyd, pp. 181–3. Strachey had previously found himself put off by Keynes, not least because of his manner of "treat[ing] his love affairs statistically".

Political opponents have used Keynes’ sexuality to attack his academic work. One line of attack held that he was uninterested in the long term ramifications of his theories because he had no children.

Keynes’ friends in the Bloomsbury Group were initially surprised when, in his later years, he began dating and pursuing affairs with women,Adam Trimingham, , The Argus, 12 November 2012. demonstrating himself to be bisexual.Sources describing Keynes as bisexual include:

  • John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, Indo-European Publishing, 2011, , ISBN 160444116X, 9781604441161
  • Paul Levy, "The Bloomsbury Group", Essays on John Maynard Keynes, ed. Milo Keynes, Cambridge University Press, 1979, , ISBN 052129696X, 9780521296960
  • David Warsh, Economic Principles: The Masters and Mavericks of Modern Economics, Simon and Schuster, 2010, , ISBN1451602561, 9781451602562 Ray Costelloe (who would later marry Oliver Strachey) was an early heterosexual interest of Keynes.Holroyd, p. 129. In 1906, Keynes had written of this infatuation that, "I seem to have fallen in love with Ray a little bit, but as she isn’t male I haven’t [been] able to think of any suitable steps to take."


In 1921, Keynes wrote that he had fallen "very much in love" with Lydia Lopokova, a well-known Russian ballerina, and one of the stars of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. In the early years of his courtship, he maintained an affair with a younger man, Sebastian Sprott, in tandem with Lopokova, but eventually chose Lopokova exclusively.The Telegraph, 25 April 2008, Rupert Christiansen Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian, 19 April 2008 They married in 1925. The union was happy, with biographer Peter Clarke writing that the marriage gave Keynes "a new focus, a new emotional stability and a sheer delight of which he never wearied".

Lydia became pregnant in 1927 but miscarried. Among Keynes’s Bloomsbury friends, Lopokova was, at least initially, subjected to criticism for her manners, mode of conversation and supposedly humble social origins – the latter of the ostensible causes being particularly noted in the letters of Vanessa and Clive Bell, and Virginia Woolf.Lady Talky, Alison Light, London Review of Books, Vol. 30 No. 24, 18 December 2008"Review: Keynes and the Celestial Dancer", by Anand Chandavarkar, Reviewed work(s): Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and Maynard Keynes by Polly Hill; Richard Keynes, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 25, No. 34 (25 August 1990), p. 1896 In her novel Mrs Dalloway (1925), Woolf bases the character of Rezia Warren Smith on Lopokova. E. M. Forster would later write in contrition: "How we all used to underestimate her".

Support for the arts

Keynes was interested in literature in general and drama in particular and supported the Cambridge Arts Theatre financially, which allowed the institution, at least for a while, to become a major British stage outside of London.

Keynes’s personal interest in classical opera and dance led him to support the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and the Ballet Company at Sadler’s Wells. During the War as a member of CEMA (Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts) Keynes helped secure government funds to maintain both companies while their venues were shut. Following the War Keynes was instrumental in establishing the Arts Council of Great Britain and was the founding Chairman in 1946. Unsurprisingly from the start the two organisations that received the largest grant from the new body were the Royal Opera House and Sadler’s Wells.