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I first met Cecil Woolf in 2007. I was attending my first Virginia Woolf conference, the seventeenth annual conference held at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

I, of course, was in awe. He, of course, was friendly, gracious, and encouraging. If I hadn’t known it already, I would not have imagined he was someone “important.” He was just so genuine and down to earth.

Since then, we have become friends, corresponding by snail mail and email and meeting at Woolf conferences. He sends me books. I send him cards. He gives me chocolates. I give him manuscripts.

For a long time, I have imagined coming to London and walking around Virginia’s favorite city with her nephew, the son of her husband Leonard’s youngest brother. Today my imagined day of “street haunting” became reality. Cecil and I spent seven hours exploring Bloomsbury together, with a stop for lunch and another for tea as we walked nearly six miles, according to my helpful but intrusive phone app.

As you can imagine, the conversation with this witty, insightful, and well-read man never flagged — and neither did his energy on this fine June day in London.

Here are some photos from the day. I only wish I could share the conversation as easily.

Cecil and I on a bench in Tavistock Square garden. Virginia and Leonard lived at 52 Tavistock Square from 1924-1939.

Cecil Woolf and I share a bench in Tavistock Square garden. Virginia and Leonard lived at 52 Tavistock Square from 1924-1939.

Cecil Woolf with the bust of Virginia Woolf located in Tavistock Square garden, dedicated in 2004.

Cecil Woolf with the bust of Virginia Woolf located in Tavistock Square garden, dedicated in 2004.

Cecil Woolf planted this Gingko biloba tree in Tavistock Square garden on Dec. 16, 2004, to commemorate the centennial of the arrival of his uncle Leonard in Colombo, Ceylon

Cecil Woolf planted this Gingko biloba tree in Tavistock Square garden on Dec. 16, 2004, to commemorate the centennial of the arrival of his uncle Leonard in Colombo, Ceylon.

Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, where Virginia lived from 1905-1907.

Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, where Virginia lived from 1905-1907.

No walk around London would be complete without a stop at a bookstore, so we visited Persephone Books.

No walk around London with Cecil Woolf would be complete without a stop at a bookstore, so we visited Persephone Books, 59 Lamb Conduit Street.

We were guided along the way by "Virginia Woolf Life and London: Bloomsbury and Beyond," written by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, Cecil's wife of many years.

We were guided along the way by “Virginia Woolf Life and London: Bloomsbury and Beyond,” the classic Woolf guidebook written by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, Cecil’s wife of many years.

Speaking of books, Cecil and Jean publish several new volumes in the Bloomsbury Heritage Series each year, introducing them at the annual Woolf conference.

Speaking of books, Cecil and Jean publish several new volumes in their Bloomsbury Heritage Series each year, introducing them at the annual Woolf conference. Here is part of this year’s display.

Yesterday, once the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf ended, about a dozen of us opted to take the 90-minute bus trip to Giggleswick, the village that houses Giggleswick School. The outing was put together as the final official event of this year’s Woolf conference.

It was at Giggleswick School where Woolf’s cousin Will Vaughan served as headmaster. And she stayed with him and his wife Madge in the headmaster’s home during the period of time in which she made her trip to the Brontë Parsonage in November 1904.

The weather was quite English; it rained from the moment we got off the bus until we boarded it again. Our gracious hosts at Giggleswick School treated us to a beautifully laid tea and a look inside the headmaster’s house.

We then split up, with a few of us heading to Giggleswick Chapel. It took four years to build and was finished in 1901, so was quite new when Woolf visited. There, we were given an informative tour by Barbara Gent, the school’s librarian and archivist, and a concert of organ and piano music by the school’s music director, James Taylor, and the chapel’s organist, Philip Broadhouse.

Afterward, Anne Reus, who assisted with organizing the conference and is a Ph.D. student at Leeds Trinity University, shepherded us to The Black Horse Pub, where we ordered a hot meal while sheltering from the cold rain. With immense dedication, she ran back and forth through that rain — without an umbrella — making sure the bus knew where to find us.

Despite the weather, every one of us was happy to be at Giggleswick — even the nine adventurers of our party who chose to go on the strenuous 6.5-mile hike up the hillside to the caves that Woolf visited when she strode out for a country walk. At the end of the day they climbed on board our bus, drenched but smiling.

After the rigorous hike, which included climbs over stiles built of rocks and treks alongside cows and sheep, Beth Rigel Daugherty said, “If I ever again hear anyone say that Woolf was fragile, I will tell them that is a lie!”

Here are some photos from the day. You can tell by these that I did not go on the walk led by indomitable conference organizer Jane deGay, but I so admire those who did. By the time we headed for Leeds, they were wet, chilled, hungry — and exhilarated.

The gracious Barbara Gent, archivist and librarian at Giggleswick School, read us Woolf's diary entries made during her stay.

The gracious Barbara Gent, archivist and librarian at Giggleswick School, read us Woolf’s diary entries made during her stay.

Our lovely tea included real china and scones with jam and clotted cream.

Our lovely tea included real china and scones with jam and clotted cream.

Giggleswick plaque

Headmaster's house at Giggleswick School

Headmaster’s house at Giggleswick School

The headmaster of Giggleswick School accepts a conference T-shirt as a gift of thanks for allowing us into his home.

Mark Turnbull, headmaster of Giggleswick School, accepts a conference T-shirt as a gift of thanks for allowing us into his home as his wife looks on.

It's easy to imagine Woolf warming herself at this fieplace in the sitting room.

It’s easy to imagine Woolf warming herself at this fieplace in the sitting room.

View from the drawing room window at the headmaster’s house

 

The room at the upper far right is the one that Woolf used during her 1904 stay.

The room at the upper far right is the one that Woolf used during her 1904 stay.

The lovely front garden includes poppies, a fitting flower since the school and the chapel include tributes to the more than 200 Giggleswick School alumni who were lost in the Great War. Eight hundred served.

The lovely front garden includes poppies, a fitting flower since the school and the chapel include tributes to the more than 200 Giggleswick School alumni who were lost in the Great War. Eight hundred served.

Giggleswick Chapel

Giggleswick Chapel, funded by the generosity of Walter Morrison and constructed using stone from local quarries. The architect was Thomas Jackson of Oxford.

Dome of the chapel

The dome of the chapel features an eye decorated in mosaic with gold ink detail.

Interior showing portion of the Italian marble floor

Interior showing portion of the floor of Belgian marble and pews made of cedar from Argentina

View of the rear of the chapel, with statues of King Edward VI, patron of the school, and Queen Victoria.

View of the rear of the chapel, with statues of King Edward VI, patron of the school, and Queen Victoria.

As a prelude to the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Leeds Trinity University in Leeds, England, Woolfians visited the Brontë Parsonage and Museum in Haworth.

The chief find of the day was this guestbook entry made by Woolf in her maiden name of Virginia Stephen on Nov. 24, 1904. She was the first of only two visitors that day. The other was her companion Margaret Vaughan, wife of her cousin Will, headmaster of Giggleswick School.

The book is stored in the library that houses books by and about the Brontës, pictured below.

A story on the conference is in the Yorkshire Post at this link: http://bit.ly/1W0dV7l

Page in the Brontë Parsonage and Museum guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf in 1904.

Page in the Brontë Parsonage and Museum guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf in 1904.

Behind-the-scenes room at the Brontë Parsonage Museum where the guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf is stored, along with other materials by and about the Brontës.

Behind-the-scenes room at the Brontë Parsonage Museum where the guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf is stored, along with other materials by and about the Brontës.

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England, in Yorkshire

Virginia Woolf is on the move — and she is posting her travel pics on Instagram and Twitter.

Last month she visited Greece, stopping off in Athens and Santorini. She toured Athens by bus, revisited the Acropolis on foot, was a guest at a Greek wedding on Santorini and spent some time near the water.

This month she is headed to the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Woolf and Heritage at Leeds Trinity University in Leeds, England. If you’re going, too, and tweeting about your trip, use the conference hashtag #Woolf2016. Virginia will also be stopping off in London. And she may take some detours along the way.

You can follow her travels on Twitter by searching #travelswithvirginiawoolf. Meanwhile, here are her collected tweets from her trip to Greece.

mike-posner-photo-shoot-2015-1-1024x1024

Musician Mike Posner

The chart-topping musician and songwriter, Mike Posner, famous for the singles “Cooler Then Me” and “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”, references Virginia Woolf in a new song, “Be As You Are” from his recently released album, At Night, Alone.

The song lyrics mention Woolf immediately:

Virginia Woolf and poetry
No one seemed to notice me
Being young was getting so old
Cheap beer and cigarettes
Life was like a movie set
And I seemed to be given no role

Posner composed annotations for this song over at Genuis.com, and he writes in detail about how Virginia Woolf’s work influenced his “life as a reader” and as a song writer:

So I read Mrs. Dalloway in high school, and this was probably the best class that I ever took, including all the classes I took at Duke. The teacher’s name was Mrs. Mundy, Susan Mundy, and her class changed my life. She taught me how to read. Like, I knew how to read before but I didn’t know how to read a novel – where if someone was saying that “the sun set and it was dark,” they weren’t just saying “the sun set and it was dark.” They were saying a million other things. And she taught us how to read that way. I am sure if you like Virginia Woolf then you know how to read that way. But that totally changed my life as both a writer and a reader.

20150625-mikeposner2-posillico

A still shot from Posner’s music video for “Be As You Are”.

Posner also writes about how he identifies with the character Septimus Smith from Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and how he connects with and is inspired by this character’s depression:

So I have a kinship and a sort of affinity to anyone that felt sad and depressed, because I felt that way very much in my teenage years, especially in the winter time. And that is where this lyric about “poetry” comes from. Just the name Virginia Woolf reminds me of all those sort of depressed, nostalgic feelings. Now I will occasionally feel a hint of that depression and it is weird to say it but I actually sort of like it a little bit because there is a familiarity there. And all of my music to this day is either a reaction against that soil of sadness or it is nostalgic, against that soil of sadness.

You can read Mike Posner’s full annotations of his song lyrics for “Be As You Are” here, and you can listen to the song below.

Here’s a post from The Charleston Attic blog on the kitchen at Charleston, Bloomsbury’s home in the country in Sussex.

For those who are regular readers of the The Charleston Attic blog, and have been following our progress as the newest Attic Interns through our work with the Angelica Garnett Gift, it may be of in…

Source: At Charleston, ‘The kitchen was always warm and smelt of fresh coffee.’

 

Produced by BBC TV, this 1970 documentary, Virginia Woolf: A Night’s Darkness, A Day’s Sail, was unavailable for years but is now posted on YouTube.

It is a gem, including footage of Talland House, the Stephen family’s summer home, and Godrevy Lighthouse. It also includes interviews with Leonard Woolf (from 1967), Angelica Garnett, Quentin Bell, George Rylands, Elizabeth Bowen, Duncan Grant, Benedict Nicolson, Lord David Cecil, Dame Janet Vaughn, Raymond Mortimer, and Louie Mayer (the Woolfs’ cook at Monk’s House). They talk about Woolf’s character traits, as well as her genius, her writing habits and her love of London. And they discuss the Bloomsbury Group.

Portions of Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and A Room of One’s Own (1929) are also read on camera. And you’ll see the actual Hogarth press.

She always asked everybody, ‘What did you have for breakfast.’ – Angelica Garnett

 

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