Second child of Sir Leslie and Julia Stephen, he attended Trinity
College, Cambridge and there met the "astonishing fellows"
Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Saxon Sydney-Turner and Leonard Woolf.
After the death of his father in 1904, he and his three siblings
moved to 46 Gordon Square and began to host the Thursday evening
gatherings that were the germ of the "Bloomsbury group."
This initial stage of freedom and abstraction was ended by two
events: Clive Bell's proposal of marriage to Vanessa Stephen and
Thoby's death from typhoid in 1906.
"In his monolithic character, his monolithic common-sense,
his monumental judgments he continually reminded one of Dr Johnson,
but a Samuel Johnson who had shed his neuroticism, his irritability,
his fears. He had a perfectly 'natural' style of writing, flexible,
lucid, but rather formal, old-fashioned, almost Johnsonian or
at any rate eighteenth century. And there was a streak of the
same natural style in his talk. Any wild statement, speculative
judgment, or Strachean exaggeration would be met with a 'Nonsense,
my good fellow', from Thoby, and then a sentence of profound,
but humorous, common-sense, and a delighted chuckle."