It begins in late-Victorian Cambridge, which Gwen herself amusingly described in her childhood memoir Period Place. But Frances Spalding looks behind and beyond the pages of this much-loved book. She explores Gwen's Darwin inheritance, her conflicts when she moves beyond her home environment to enter the Slade School of Art, her encounter with post-Impressionism, and her friendships with Stanley Spencer, Rupert Brook and members of the Bloomsbury set.
At each stage, Gwen's artistic creativity is interwoven with her relationships and circumstances. She helps revive the medium of wood-engraving and with her husband Jacques Raverat, celebrates the South of France in the art they produce while living in Venice. In the late 1920s her abiding love of Cambridge draws her back to a corner of England with which she is extricably associated. Finally, her life comes full circle in old age when she moves into The Old Granary that once formed part of her childhood home.