I started with her last, Vol. V, the diaries that cover the last years of her life, 1936 to 1941. There were entries before and after Jan. 25, but none that mentioned her birthday itself. Instead, her entry for the day following her birthday in 1940 speaks of “moments of despair” (260), and her 1941 entry of depression and rejection (354).
In both cases, though, Woolf shakes off the gloom. In 1940, she writes that her despair is really “glacial suspense” that has “given way . . . to ecstasy” (260). In 1941, she bravely says “[t]his trough of despair shall not, I swear, engulf me” (354).
In Volume III, which includes entries from 1925 to 1930, I found one entry that mentions her birthday and notes an unusual occurence in the natural world. On Jan. 26, 1930, Woolf wrote:
I am 48: we have been at Rodmell–a wet, windy day again; but on my birthday we walked among the downs, like the folded wings of grey birds; & saw first one fox, very long with his brush stretched; then a second, which had been barking, for the sun was hot over us; it leapt lightly over a fence & entered the furze — a very rare sight (285).
Sighting two foxes and feeling the heat of the sun. Not bad for a 48th birthday in England in January.
Past posts about Woolf’s birthday include:
- Happy birthday, dear Virginia, in music
- Tea party and book swap celebrate Virginia’s birthday
- Happy birthday, dear Virginia
You can also go here for past birthday remiscences of Woolf from Nonsuch Blog readers. And read more about the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain’s Twelfth Annual Birthday Lecture on Woolf, Eliot and Mansfield. It was held Jan. 22.