Archive for November, 2014

Joyce Muirhead of the Woolf Plaque Supporters has provided Blogging Woolf with the following report on Saturday’s unveiling of the blue plaque at the Frome Railway Station to memorialize Leonard Woolf’s 11 January 1912 journey to London where he proposed to Virginia Stephen. Blogging Woolf readers helped fund the plaque. 

They came.  From Huntington, Cambridge, Bristol,  Broadway, Worcestershire, from Cheshire and of course many from London, including Bloomsbury, driving for two, three or four hours across country on a damp chilly late November day to honour the memory of a journey made by Leonard Woolf from Frome Railway Station to London, Paddington to propose marriage to Virginia Stephen.

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson at Frome Station after the unveiling of the blue plaque commemorating Leonard Woolf's proposal to Virginia Stephen.

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson at Frome Station after the unveiling of the blue plaque commemorating Leonard Woolf’s proposal to Virginia Stephen.

Nicholas Reid gave an accomplished speech mentioning that as manager of many stations on the Heart of Wessex line, Frome is a favourite.  He elucidated the history and iconic status of Frome Station, with its unique shed style, within the national rail network.  He briefly outlined the trials in achieving all necessary permissions to erecting the plaque, despite renewal of franchise, total refurbishment of the station and the worst floods in living memory.  He hoped that it would encourage passengers, glimpsing the plaque as they journeyed to and from the coast, to stop off and visit Frome.

Cecil Woolf gave a vivid and lively speech, in spite of his eye operation only two days previously and his three-hour drive through difficult traffic conditions, and spoke movingly and affectionately of his uncle and aunt, Leonard and Virginia.  He talked of their first meeting, of Leonard’s reaction to her astonishing beauty, of their courtship and of Leonard’s recollections of Frome half a century later. He read from the letter Leonard Woolf wrote from The Rectory at Great Elm, which expressed  his turmoil and exhaustion of that day and he went on to speak of their subsequent marriage and the many extraordinary achievements that their partnership produced.  He then unveiled the plaque to enthusiastic applause.

Graham Muirhead, as chairman of the Woolf Plaque Supporters, the group responsible for raising the funds and organising the event, thanked Cecil Woolf, Nicholas Reid and his colleagues from First Great Western, three successive mayors and the town council, the donors and the Societies who had contributed so generously and travelled so far for their support.   Finally, he expressed the hope that the plaque would inspire others to set out on their own journeys and to explore this rich vein of literature.

After photographs, the arrival of the next train signalled a move to the Cheese & Grain hall where Lotty Evans produced a delicious afternoon tea inspired by the Bloomsbury Cook Book. It provided a fitting finish to a thoroughly successful and enjoyable afternoon while people chatted and looked at the display of quotations and photographs.

Those attending the unveiling included: Mrs Sheila Wilkinson co-founder and vice chair of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and her husband David; Dr Surendra Paul, chairman, Leonard Woolf Society; Nathan Sivasambu, co-ordinator, Ceylon Bloomsbury Group; Dr. Jane Russell and Seneca Weeraman, Leonard Woolf Society members; Martin Bax M.B.E., chairman of trustees, Rook Lane Chapel; Dr Emma Robinson, chairman, Frome Heritage Museum; Councillor Peter MacFadyen, Mayor of Frome; and members of the Woolf Plaque Supporters.

Read a BBC News report of the plaque unveiling.

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25th annual conferenceConference organizers have issued a call for papers on the topic, Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries for the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, sponsored by Bloomsburg University, which will take place in Bloomsburg, Penn., June 4-7, 2015. See the interactive or PDF version of the campus map.

The conference topic seeks to contextualize Virginia Woolf’s writing alongside the work of her contemporaries. This unprecedented number of women writers — experimentalists, middlebrow authors, journalists, poets, and editors — was simultaneously contributing to, as well as complicating, modernist literature. In what ways did these burgeoning communities and enclaves of women writers intersect with (or coexist alongside) Virginia Woolf?

The conference welcomes proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, and workshops from literary and interdisciplinary scholars, creative and performing artists, common readers, undergraduates, students, and teachers at all levels. Submissions should relate to Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries and may emphasize either the development of enclaves or specific female subcultures or individual writers who were contemporaneous with Virginia Woolf.

Possible paper and panel themes include:

  • The role of sexuality in the formation of communities of women writers
  • Publication and women writers
  • The Little Magazines and women writers
  • Fashion and women writers
  • The role of the new electronic mediums in the promotion of women writers
  • The rise of women writers and the anti-war movement
  • Suffragism and emerging women writers
  • Psychoanalysis and the advent of women writers
  • War and women writers

In addition to papers clearly focused on Virginia Woolf, we also welcome themes that involve any of the many women writers of the early twentieth-century including (but not limited to) Gertrude Stein, H.D., Dorothy Richardson, Mina Loy, Vera Brittain, Marianne Moore, Jean Rhys, Djuna Barnes, Una Marson, Colette, Mary Butts, Amy Lowell, Rebecca West, Kay Boyle, Bryher, Elizabeth Bowen, and Enid Bagnold.

How to submit your proposal:

For individual papers, send a 250-word proposal. For panels of three or four people, please send a proposal title and a 250-word proposal for each paper. For roundtables and workshops, send a 250 to 500-word proposal and biographical description of each participant. Also, if you would like to chair a panel, please let us know.

High school students and undergraduates will have their own panels and seminars. Graduate students are welcome to submit proposals via the normal conference process.

Email proposal by attachment in word to Julie Vandivere at Woolf2015@bloomu.edu

Proposal deadline: Deadline for proposals is Jan. 24, 2015. NOTE: As of Jan. 25, 2015, the paper proposal deadline was extended to midnight on Jan. 31, 2015.

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Here’s a review of one of my favorite essays by Virginia Woolf.

Oxley Press

Virginia Woolf’s collection of essays is as fluid and beautiful as it is poignant and thought-provoking. Now published under Penguin Classic‘s Great Ideas imprint, Woolf’s deep literary prowess pulls her compelling ideas off the page, making them  as fresh as if they were written yesterday.

And indeed, her essays could have been; today, Woolf’s take on war, conflict, gender and consumerism remain as potent and compelling as the day she penned them.  Her criticisms and praise towards the quirks of her time remain relevant today.

book review Virginia Woolf

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IVWS dinner at MLA 2015

vancouverlogoIt is a tradition that the International Virginia Woolf Society holds a special Woolf dinner at the annual MLA Convention, which will be held in Vancouver Jan. 8-11.

This year’s dinner is planned, but space is limited. Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, Jan. 10
Time: 7:30 p.m
Location: Water Street Cafe

Cost: $40 for members & $25 for graduate students, and the society encourages professors to sponsor their graduate students, if they wish to purchase tickets for them. The first lucky 40 who sign up win places at the table. You lucky winners will be expected to bring $40 or $25 in cash in an envelope with your name on it, to make the evening as efficient as possible. No charge cards.

How to sign up: The first 40 people who send an email to this address:
ivwsociety@gmail.com will win seats at the table. Last year’s dinner was limited to just 30.

Menu: Crunchy Baby Greens Salad, Sunshine Coast Seafood and Corn Chowder, and choice of one entree from the following: Grilled Wild B.C. Salmon, Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast, Veal Scaloppini or Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Ravioli; and Tiramus for dessert. Wine included.

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Should we let the crowd decide which authors should be prioritized for digitization once their work enters the public domain? If so, Virginia Woolf would be high on the list.

Of the 1,011,304 authors included on Wikipedia, Virginia Woolf has a ranking ofWoolf on Wikipedia 1,081, and there are 1,902 views of her entry each day, making her the top-ranked individual who died in 1941.

Those figures are part of an algorithm developed by Allen Riddell at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that automatically generates an independent ranking of notable authors for a given year. In developing the algorithm, he mined two sources: Wikipedia and a list of more than a million online books in the public domain. Nineteen of Woolf’s works are on the list.

Riddell’s article, “Public Domain Rank: Identifying Notable Individuals with the Wisdom of the Crowd,” takes an objective approach to argue that online popularity should help determine which authors’ works entering the public domain should be made easily available through digitization.

However, he does offer the caveat that the new Public Domain Ranking reflects Wikipedia’s inherent biases, including the fact that the site has few female editors.


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You can listen to the 30-minute episode of BBC Radio 4’s literary panel show, The Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 4.52.30 PMWrite Stuff,  that featured Virginia Woolf here.

But do it soon. The Nov. 9 broadcast will only be available for 20 days.

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During the past two years, Vintage Classics has republished 14 of Virginia Woolf’sVintage Woolf series works based on her original Hogarth Press texts, and each of them offers a cover featuring a tightly cropped photograph matched with simple typography.

Each cover of the Vintage Woolf series focuses on specific passages from the work it enfolds and features a photograph that represents lines from those passages. The original photograph is then cropped, highlighted and saturated with color to achieve the desired effect. The type is set in a version of Casion.

Cover designer James Jones admits that creating the cover art offered a unique challenge, as he hadn’t read any of Woolf’s work before starting on the project.

The new  and ongoing series includes Woolf’s novels, essays and diaries.

Said Jones:

What I really wanted to bring across … was the sense of colour and light that I pictured when reading her work.

And from Frances MacMillan, Vintage senior editor:

We wanted new jackets which would make potential readers rethink their ideas of this famous author; covers which presented Woolf as modern, relevant and surprising.

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