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Archive for January 12th, 2013

Personal details of Virginia Woolf’s final years are available to the public for the first time after the University of Sussex acquired this engagement diary and seven more at a Sotheby’s auction.

Personal details of Virginia Woolf’s final years are available to the public for the first time after the University of Sussex acquired this engagement diary and seven more at a Sotheby’s auction.

The University of Sussex has purchased Virginia Woolf’s small pocket engagement diaries that she used to detail her personal life from 1930 to 1941. The last entry is for March 28, 1941, which is written in pencil by  Leonard Woolf, and simply states “Died.”

The University of Sussex has purchased Virginia Woolf’s small pocket engagement diaries that she used to detail her personal life from 1930 to 1941. The last entry is for March 28, 1941, which is written in pencil by  Leonard Woolf, and simply states “Died.”

The diaries briefly record Woolf’s meetings with contemporaries, including E. M. Forster and T. S. Eliot, along with visits to her artist sister Vanessa Bell. They also indicate when she would be staying at her home Monk’s House in Rodmell, East Sussex.

Some of the diaries include pencil lines through several dates and appointments, accompanied by the word “Bed,”indicating periods when she was experiencing health problems.

The University’s Special Collections has an extensive collection of materials related to Woolf. It bought the diaries to complement the Monks House Papers, which were donated to the University’s Special Collections in 1972 and contain Woolf’s correspondence from other writers, family, friends, admirers and publishers. They also include her reading notebooks, drafts of essays and typescripts of some of her works, proofed and corrected in her own hand.

The Monks House Papers fall into three groups: letters, manuscripts and press-cuttings. There is documentation of Woolf’s career from her earliest journalism to what was possibly her final short fiction, ‘The Watering Place’, a two-page manuscript which draws on a diary entry of 1941 written shortly before her suicide.

Fiona Courage, special collections manager, said: “The collection very much represents Woolf’s ‘everyday’ life in the same way that the pocket engagement diaries do. As with the engagement diaries, our collections relate to Woolf as an individual rather than her public persona of novelist, reviewer and essayist.

“The activities recorded in these engagement diaries  may not have found their way into her more detailed daily diaries, but  are significant in terms of her daily life, her social circle and her physical and mental state. The diaries also complement a set of appointment diaries belonging to Leonard Woolf, and held within his papers at the University.”

She added that these diaries have never been made publically available for research.“By acquiring them we can now make them accessible to scholars, enthusiasts and the general public.”

The University was able to raise the £60,000 necessary to buy the diaries with support from the V&A/MLA Purchase Grant Fund*, the Friends of the National Libraries and a number of individual donors.

Besides the Monk’s House Papers and the small engagement diaries, the University of Sussex Special Collections holds the following related materials:

  • Leonard Woolf Papers
  • Charleston Papers
  • Birrell Papers
  • Nicolson Papers
  • A.O. Bell Papers
  • Quentin Bell Papers
  • Emery Collection
  • Maria Jackson Letters
  • Mrs Woolf and the Servants: research papers

Additional biographical and literary manuscripts of Virginia Woolf that were at Monk’s House are now in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library in New York. The Berg Collection holds the largest collection of Woolf manuscripts in the world.

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