This painting depicts Lytton Strachey (1880-1932), the biographer and essayist, who was a central figure in the Bloomsbury circle. It contains three portraits of Strachey at different ages, including a very young portrait as a cabbage. There are several references to Strachey's homosexuality (the 'pansy' patterned wallpaper), as well as clues to the subjects of his books. The arrow heads combined with a strand of his beard form two profiles against the target. One is of Queen Elizabeth I, the other Queen Victoria. The painting's title alludes to the situation Strachey would have found himself in had either book been published during the lifetime of the subject.