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The cover article of this week’s (Oct. 5) New York Times Book Review is a glowing assessment, a “run, don’t walk”jThe Assassination of Margaret Thatcher rave of Hilary Mantel’s new story collection, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Speaking of Mantel’s deserved reputation in English literature, the reviewer, Terry Castle, declaims that:

“Mantel has assumed an esteemed place in what might be called a great tradition of modern British female storytelling, an ardor-filled, bluestocking lineage extending from Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield in the early part of the 20th century through Elizabeth Bowen, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Elizabeth Taylor, Iris Murdoch, Edna O’Brien, Barbara Pym, Penelope Fitzgerald, Muriel Spark, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Doris Lessing, Beryl Bainbridge and many others in subsequent decades, all the way to such gifted living practitioners (again, to name only a few) as A.S. Byatt, Ruth Rendell, Maureen Duffy, Ali Smith, Jane Gardam, Emma Donoghue, Jeanette Winterson and Zadie Smith.”

I cite the entire list because it strikes me that what Castle is presenting here, in her homage to Hilary Mantel, is a sampling of Virginia Woolf’s vast legacy. These women and many more have fulfilled Woolf’s wishes for women and literature when, in A Room of One’s Own, she admonished them (us, that is) “to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast.”

Mantel’s fantastic title story is reproduced in its entirety in the Sept. 28 Review. I love its keenly observed descriptions and quirky but believable characters; I suspect that Virginia Woolf would have enjoyed it too.

Garsington albumCan’t make it to the last week of the exhibition Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision at the National Portrait Gallery? You can see some of it online.

Society hostess Lady Ottoline Morrell’s photograph albums provide a record of guests at her homes  in London and Garsington, Oxfordshire and are featured in the exhibition. You can explore her Garsington album online, which includes images of Woolf and her circle.

Writing after retirementBlogging Woolf contributor Alice Lowe has written a chapter for Writing After Retirement: Tips from Successful Writers, an anthology of short essays on topics that cover the writing basics about getting started, along with tips for specific areas of interest, publishing and marketing, and more.

Alice’s chapter, “A Muse of One’s Own: Finding Inspiration for your Writing Life,” is, of course, focused on Virginia Woolf. It’s Chapter Three in the volume.

View the table of contents on the publisher’s website. Buy it there or on Amazon.

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A new two-part documentary series, Secrets from the Asylum, investigates how mental health was treated in Victorian Britain.

This show highlights the practices of “Lunatic Asylums” as they were called and connects British celebrities to their ancestors who were treated in these asylums.

In episode one, English comedian Al Murray encounters the history of his great-great-great grandfather, novelist William Thackeray, who tried to help his wife, Isabella, with her post-partum depression by having her admitted to an asylum at the age of 23.

LauraStephenEarlswoodAsylum

Woolf’s half-sister Laura Stephen

In episode two we learn about the history of Thackeray’s granddaughter, Virginia Woolf’s half-sister, Laura Stephen, who suffered from a learning disability and didn’t “fit in.”

An article by the producers of the show, Scottish Television, states:

Laura “was branded an imbecile and a potential embarrassment to her intellectual father, writer Leslie Stephen, and at the age of 22 was admitted to the Royal Earlswood Asylum.”

In the article Murray said: “What’s shocking about this is that Laura Stephen’s father Leslie was a member of the chattering classes. He couldn’t have been a more intelligent, plugged in, literary, engaged man with modern ideas.

The modern idea in the late 1800s was society was not to be undermined by people who were ‘feeble-minded’, so these people, for their own good and the good of society, were removed. It was the Victorian worry about the purity of the gene pool.”

You can watch the full episodes: Episode 1 & Episode 2

Virginia Woolf on a hook-up chart

Source: Black Balloon Publishing's blog, The Airship.

Source: Black Balloon Publishing’s blog, The Airship.

For more, read “Everyone Your Favorite Author Slept With, in One Extremely Nerdy Chart” on Arts.Mic

Here are several Woolf sightings worth a read. And the second one is generating some heat on theVWoolf Listserv.

1. Maggie Gee explains how she came to write Virginia Woolf in Manhattan in The Guardian, Sept. 19, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan2014.

2. “Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and a Case of Anxiety of Influence” in the New Yorker, Sept. 19, 2014.

This essay is generating lively discussion on the VWoolf Listserv, with writers questioning author John Colapinto’s assertion that Woolf’s lighthouse imagery in To the Lighthouse was borrowed from Wharton.  As Linda Camarasana put it, “Makes me want to tell him to read ‘Reminiscences’ and ‘A Sketch of the Past.’ Surely he should at least acknowledge Woolf’s youth, trips to St. Ives, the haunting sounds of the waves, Julia’s death, and Stella’s death as the most obvious influences on To the Lighthouse.”

Another dispute is prompted by this line of Colapinto’s: “Though I can find no record of Woolf having read The Age of Innocence, it seems unlikely that she would have failed to read Wharton’s most famous and celebrated book, if for no other reason than she would have been curious about the first novel by a woman to win the Pulitzer.”

According to Stuart N. Clarke, Woolf acknowledged  receipt of a copy of The Age of Innocence in an uncollected letter to publishers Messrs Appleton & Co. on 18 Nov 1920. The letter was published in the January 2011 edition of the Virginia Woolf Bulletin. In that issue’s accompanying note, Stephen Barkway discusses Woolf’s published comments on Wharton  and Wharton’s irritation.

3. Review of Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut, a fictional biography of E.M. Forster in the Washington Post, Sept. 18, 2014, that includes “lightly fictionalized” accounts of meetings with Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

4. London photos: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway book bench on the Flickfilosopher blog, Sept. 18, 2014. For more, see Close-up views of the Mrs. Dalloway bench and This summer, take a seat on the Mrs. Dalloway bench

5. Professor’s new book explores theories of place in the Bowdoin Orient, Sept. 12, 2014. The People, Place, and Space Reader, a new anthology dedicated to scholars writing about the ways in which people inhabit the space around them, includes an excerpt from A Room of One’s Own.

My notion is to think of the human beings first and let the abstract ideas take care of themselves. – Virginia Woolf

Woolf quote in Tube

Woolf poster in “Thought for the Commute” campaign. Source: http://bit.ly/1pbBNAS

Woolf is among four British humanists whose quotes will be featured on posters displayed in 100 London Underground stations, beginning this week. The national campaign, “Thought for the Commute,” is being launched by the British Humanist Society.

The campaign will be replicated in cities across the UK. It answers BBC Radio Four’s “Thought for the Day,” which allows only religious contributors.

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