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Anne Olivier Bell, art scholar, Bloomsbury matriarch, widow of Virginia Woolf’s nephew Quentin, and editor of her diaries, died yesterday at the age of 102.

Bell also helped Quentin pen his 1972 biography of his aunt and the two were instrumental in saving Charleston Farmhouse, preserving it for future generations of Bloomsbury scholars and fans.

In addition, she was known for playing an instrumental role in saving European art from the Nazis during World  II, serving in the Monuments Men effort.

As a result of her marriage to Quentin, Olivier moved into the heartland of the Bloomsbury milieu and, having inherited its values, became one of the most vigorous (and vigilant) guardians and promoters of the Bloomsbury revival. – “Anne Olivier Bell obituary,” The Guardian, July 19, 2018.

Read The Guardian obituary.

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The results are in. The winning quote in the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain’s query posted on its Facebook page is:

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – A Room of One’s Own

You can read all four of the quotes short-listed for the competition, which was held in celebration of #DallowayDay. The VWSGB says it will hold a similar vote to celebrate #DallowayDay next year.

Virginia Woolf on display

Woolf sightings are frequent, both online and in person, testifying to the fact that Virginia Woolf has long been an icon.

Here’s one put together by Lois Gilmore, professor of language and literature at Bucks County Community College in Newton, Pa.

She set up the display of Woolf items in the campus library in conjunction with an honors composition class focused on Woolf that she is teaching this fall.

It includes books by and about Woolf, a doll, note cards, jewelry, the T-shirt from the 2009 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Woolf and the City, and the program from the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Woolf, Europe and Peace.

Fittingly enough, Lois included Virginia Woolf Icon (1999) by Brenda R. Silver among the books she selected.

Do you have a Woolf sighting or display to share? If so, please add a link in the comments section below.

The Virginia Woolf display at the Bucks County Community College library.

A Virginia Woolf-shaped note card, along with the famous Woolf in Raybans T-shirt, are included in the display.

A copy of Kew Gardens with cover design by Vanessa Bell, along with a quote from A Room of One’s Own and a necklace featuring a Bell portrait of Woolf knitting are part of the display.

As we reported earlier, the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is asking Woolf readers to vote for their favorite quote via their Facebook page.

Here’s the VWSGB’s Facebook query:

Thanks to all those who emailed or Facebooked their favourite Virginia Woolf quotations. We received a great variety, but have shortlisted the following five. Just vote for your favourite using the number next to it. If you voted earlier, you can choose the same one or another, and you can make your message public or reply privately. But please vote! #vwquotevote

1) Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. (Mrs Dalloway)

2) In the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.
(Mrs Dalloway)

3) Why, if one wants to compare life to anything, one must liken it to being blown through the Tube at fifty miles an hour – landing at the other end without a single hairpin in one’s hair! Shot out at the feet of God entirely naked! Tumbling head over heels in the asphodel meadows like brown paper parcels pitched down a shoot in the post office! With one’s hair flying back like the tail of a race-horse. Yes, that seems to express the rapidity of life, the perpetual waste and repair; all so casual, all so haphazard …
(‘The Mark on the Wall’)

4) Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. (A Room of One’s Own)

5) Nothing is simply one thing. (To the Lighthouse)

Virginia Woolf scholar Maggie Humm brought Woolf into the mix at the June 21 celebration of #WoolwichWomenRise!

Humm carried a placard paying homage to Kathleen Rance, Mayoress of Woolwich in 1937 ‘who would not as much as darn a sock to help a war,’ according to Woolf in Three Guineas (1938). It was the first time Woolf has been paraded through Woolwich as part of the Greenwich Festival’ Rise.

Maggie Humm (right) carrying a placard honoring Rance. It includes Woolf’s quote on the rear. With her is the current Mayor of Greenwich, which now incorporates Woolwich, holding a placard to the first woman Mayor of Woolwich (1930-1931).

England’s Lane
Emma Woolf
Three Hares Publishing

A review by Maggie Humm

Emma Woolf’s debut novel England’s Lane is a love story with a difference. Starting with a bang – an ingenious twist of the Hollywood cliche of a half-dressed male lover exiting a torrid sex scene when his lover’s husband returns unexpectedly- here the heroine Lily is the departing lover. Immediately sympathetic as she reports to sister Cassie ‘I’m standing on the platform at Gerrard’s Cross wearing a man’s shirt tucked into skinny jeans,’ Lily’s hands closed around a packet of cigarettes in Harry’s shirt pocket. ‘Hallelujah’.

The set up will please writers and publishers. Lily, 24, works with Harry, 47, Strategic Director of Higher Education Press and ‘that first kiss was deadly serious at the Frankfurt Book Fair’. The progress of their increasingly tense love affair flows in and out of multiple perspectives: Pippa, Harry’s wife’s blog, Harry at his psychiatrist, and Lily, and constitutes the first half of the novel.

Woolf handles multiple characters with insouciance – Lily’s siblings Cassie, Olivia, James and their mother Celia, and Harry’s family.

As Harry’s guilt grows so does his drinking, jealous stalking of Lily, and eventual breakdown. To say more would give away the plot’s key moment. Woolf pulls off a writer’s toughest trick – switching mid-stream from one expected narrative – adultery- to another – Lily’s life as a single mother in England’s Lane, Belsize Park, north London. Contacting her long departed father David, Lily’s life begins afresh with his second wife’s family, particularly with Julian.

Beautifully constructed, England’s Lane rushes us through to an unexpected happy ending (for everyone except Harry).

How could we not like Lily – intelligent, thoughtful, beautifully slim, with her JBrand skinny jeans, casual cashmere sweaters and Hunter’s wellies? In my only attempt to wear JBrand jeans my knees wouldn’t bend, but fiction identifications can happen between unlikely readers and central characters. Product placements proliferate: Fortnum’s hampers, crocodile Smythson notebooks, St. Lucie’s monogrammed bath robes, but love stories need obligatory reader pleasures.

The novel is at its strongest when Lily begins to parallel Harry’s wife Pippa’s fears of being an older mother.

Emma Woolf is Leonard Woolf’s great-niece but I found traces of Virginia Woolf in Emma’s evocative scenes. Virginia Woolf is one of the twentieth century’s pre-eminent visual writers and England’s Lane carries some of Virginia’s illustrative quality. It would be an ideal Sunday evening TV serial. I simply could not put it down.

Maggie Humm is the author of Talland House and the editor of The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and the Arts.

Emma Woolf with her father Cecil Woolf

 

#Woolf2018 in pictures

Blogging Woolf’s photos from the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, held at Woolf College at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, are now available via Flickr. If you were there, see if you can spot yourself. If you weren’t, see who was.

You can access them via the top link in the right sidebar or take a look here.

Read about #Woolf2018 and #DallowayDay

You can also read more posts about the conference, along with those covering Woolf-related pre-conference travel and events in the UK:

 

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