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We are spotting lots of Woolf sightings these days, many of them due to “Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision,” the exhibit of Woolf portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London, which opens today.

Curated by Frances Spalding, noted biographer and art historian, the exhibit includes portraits of Woolf by Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry, famous photographs by Beresford and Man Ray, and intimate images depicting Woolf with friends and family.

Media coverage

An article in The Independent, Feminist writer’s friendships: feel the fear and do it anyway,” talks about the way the exhibit “will shine a spotlight on the feminist author’s relationships with other women.” One example the authors cite is the “extraordinary literary collaboration” between Woolf and Katherine Mansfield.

Another, written by Frances Spalding for The Telegraph, focuses on the actual photographs themselves and is titled “The last photograph of Virginia Woolf,” which was taken by Gisèle Freund at 37 Mecklenburgh Square in 1939. In it, Spalding fills in the background of the photo, both literally and figuratively.

On the BBC website, “Virginia Woolf: Her life in pictures” shows and dissects a number of Woolf portraits — from the famous George Beresford 1902 platinum print to the 1939 family photo portrait taken by Gisèle Freund.

The exhibit, the events, the book and the competition

Besides portraits, the exhibit features portraits and rare archival material like letters and diaries that explore her life and achievements.

A full slate of events, from lunchtime lectures to weekend workshops, are also part of the show — and they are too numerous to detail here. But you can find them on the exhibit’s events page.

Those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be in London between July 10 and Oct. 26 may want to get a taste of the exhibit by ordering Spalding’s Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision, which is available online for £20.

And if you’re feeling lucky, enter the NPG’s competition for free exhibition tickets, catalogue and a two-night stay at the Morton Hotel in Russell Square.

Tweet it

If you use Twitter and want to tweet about the exhibit, use the hashtag #NPGWoolf.

BBC Two announced the production of a three-part television drama set over a 40-year period about the Bloomsbury group called, Life In Squares, which will focus on the relationships between Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

The Bloomsbury Group From the BBC:
Life In Squares tells the story of the Bloomsbury group over 40 years, from the death of Queen Victoria to the Second World War, as they attempted to forge a life free from the constraints of the past. Their pursuit of freedom and beauty was always passionate, often impossible and ultimately devastating, yet their legacy is still felt today.”

The series was written by Amanda Coe and will be directed by Simon Kaijser. Production starts this summer.

Other performances of Woolf in the works:

To mark the centenary of Virginia Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out, Routledge has put together a VirtualEnglish Studies Special Issue from English Studies that explores Woolf’s life and work. Six articles are available free of charge until the end of this year.

Odin Dekkers, the journal’s editor-in-chief, states:

In terms of subject matter, the articles presented here range from uncovering new facts about Woolf’s life to re-contextualizing and re-reading her work in the light of recent developments in Modernism studies.

Featured articles include:

  • ‘Suicidal Mania’ and Flawed Psychobiography: Two Discussions of Virginia Woolf
  • Revisiting Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and the Aesthetics of Respectability
  • Virginia Woolf’s Second Visit to Greece
  • Structure and Anti-Structure: Virginia Woolf’s Feminist Politics and “The Mark”
  • Modernism, Memory, and Desire: T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf
  • Women Knitting: Domestic Activity, Writing, and Distance in Virginia Woolf’s Fiction
Virginia Woolf hairdo

Screenshot of The Daily Mail image comparison

Virginia Woolf has inspired many things — from fashion to multiple “rooms of one’s own.” But now she has inspired a hairdo. Or so muses The Daily Mail.

The paper reports that hairstylist Anthony Turner was likely inspired by Woolf’s famous 1902 portrait by George Charles Beresford now housed in the National Portrait Gallery when he created a center-parted hairdo for a model at Erdem’s recent show. The hairdo swooped over her ears, ending in a low knot, with “whimsical flyaways” around the face.

The Woolf hairdo tidbit is the lead item in a July 5 column of beauty tips that are nothing more than shameless sales pitches.

Virginia Woolf: Art, life and vision is at the National Portrait Gallery from July 10 to October 26.

 

Fictitious Dishes“When there are fifteen people sitting down to dinner, one cannot keep things waiting for ever.” So starts a passage from To the Lighthouse that accompanies a photograph of a bowl of boeuf en daube—the solid brown chunks of meat accented by shiny black olives and bright orange carrot slices—accompanied by a dish of Brussels sprouts and a glass of claret, served on a green cloth scattered with seashells.

This is just one of the 50 extracts from novels included in Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried (“fried,” really—would I make it up?). The opulence of the elegant tea spread for Rebecca and the cocktail party fare—caviar, smoked salmon and more—to represent The Great Gatsby are balanced by a simple and sumptuous basket of strawberries for Emma and, of course, Proust’s tea and madeleine.

I can’t resist the juxtaposition of food and literature, food in literature, and especially Woolf and food. It was the topic of my paper at the 20th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: “’A Certain Hold on Haddock and Sausage': Dining Well in Virginia Woolf’s Life and Work,” which was published in the selected papers from that conference.

This collection was a delightful find. There’s a website too, but the book is a visual feast. Do what I did—buy it for a gift but read it first!

 

 

Ham Spray videos on YouTube

There are three short 16mm films by Beakus Penrose, filmed in and around Ham Spray in 1929 that are now posted on YouTube. They were conserved by the National Film & Television Archive for “Carrington: the Exhibition,” Barbican Art Gallery, 1995.

The films are:

  • “Dr Turner’s Mental Home,” featuring Saxon Sydney Turner, Rachel MacCarthy, Lord David Cecil, Dora Carrington, Ralph Partridge, Frances Partridge.
  • “Untitled” (‘The Bounder’ to me) starring Dora Carrington, Stephen Tomlin, Julia Strachey, Oliver Strachey.
  • “Topical Budget Ham Spray September 1929″ with Dora Carrington, David Garnett, Frances Partridge, Ralph Partridge, Lytton Strachey, James Strachey.

As Todd Avery, associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, posted on the VWoolf Listserv, “In the late 1920s, Carrington, Ralph and Frances Partridge, Saxon Sydney-Turner, and others produced four short home-made films—including `Dr. Turner’s Mental Home,’ starring Saxon, which was screened at the Woolfs’ home in London.  Until last year, with the exception of one or two public screenings in the 1990s, these films were available for viewing by appointment only in the tiny basement viewing room of the British Film Institute, in London, and only on VHS.  A BBC presenter seems somehow to have procured a copy of the films, and posted them online (I will resist regaling you with the tale of cultural espionage by which I may or may not, earlier in the year, have tried and failed/succeeded to procure my own copy).

“Among the highlights: Saxon as a deranged doctor in the first film, and a splendid bathtub scene with Rachel MacCarthy; Carrington riding her white horse behind Ham Spray—and in slow motion!  James Strachey snarling at the camera; Lytton Strachey mugging and laughing from an upstairs window; Ralph and Frances and Carrington diving into the pond artistically and then struggling to stay afloat upon inflatable swans.  And so much more!”

The literature of the 1930s is commonly characterized as anti-modernist because of the prevalence of VWM Queering Woolfdocumentary realism, political purpose, and autobiographically-inflected fiction. Moreover, the canonical literature of the decade is almost entirely authored by privileged young men, a phenomenon explored by Virginia Woolf in “The Leaning Tower.”

Interestingly, however, the 1930s bears witness to Woolf’s most daring and most commercially successful novels, The Waves and  The Years respectively.

With this context in mind: how does the “modernist” and “feminist” Woolf align with the common understanding of the decade’s literary figures and their production? And, by extension, does and if
so, how  Woolf’s 1930s writing sheds new light on a decade of literature otherwise dominated by the Auden and Brideshead Generations?

This issue of Virginia Woolf Miscellany, which will be published in Spring 2015, seeks contributions that explore Woolf’s relationship to the canonical literature of the 1930s, such as but not limited to:

Auden’s poetry, Isherwood’s Berlin fiction, Auden’s and Isherwood’s plays, Spender’s commentary, and Waugh’s comedic novels. Equally, this issue also seeks contributions examining resonances among Woolf’s 1930s writing and non-canonical literature of the decade, especially literature written by women.

In addition, this issue encourages responses to the following questions:

  • How does Woolf scholarship, if at all, engage with the critical study of 1930s literature?
  • How does Woolf?s modernism disrupt or complement the critical understanding of 1930s literature?
  • What can Woolf?s late fiction and essays reveal about the 1930s and its literature that the traditional scholarly narrative conceals or overlooks?

Send submissions of no more than 2500 words to: Erica Gene Delsandro ericadelsandro@gmail.com

Deadline for submission: August 1, 2014

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