Archive for December, 2015

A three-page letter written by Virginia Woolf to Philip Morrell will be auctioned this week by British auction house Dominic Winter Auctioneers.

Woolf Morrell Letter

Pages 2 and 3 of Woolf’s letter to Morrell (photo from The Guardian)

According to an article in The Guardian by Alison Flood, the letter, written on blue paper with black ink and dated July 12, 1940, is an “exciting” piece which is set to fetch between $1,500 and $2,000:

Chris Albury at Dominic Winter, which has a guide price of £1,000-£1,500 on the letter, said that “any letter from Virginia Woolf is exciting, and there is always a mystique concerning any that might illuminate the tangled relationships of any of the Bloomsbury group and Garsington Manor set”. The Morrells lived at Garsington Manor in the 1920s, with Woolf a regular visitor.

woolf and philip morrell

Photo of Woolf and Philip Morrell in 1926 shot by Lady Ottoline Morrell

Philip Morrell
was a British Liberal politician who was married to literary hostess and muse Lady Ottoline Morrell. The Morrells both had close friendships with Virginia, and both expressed amorous feelings for her throughout their friendships.

In the letter, written eight months before her suicide, Woolf responds to news of Philip’s illness and urges him to “go on living.” From The Guardian:

“My dear Philip, I was so glad to get your letter,” writes Woolf, “Indirectly I’d heard of your illness, and was wanting more news. You must take up your lodging on the ground floor, and go on living. Far too many of my friends have given that up lately.”

She goes on to tell him that she is living in Sussex; the letter was written on 12 July, shortly after the start of the Battle of Britain, and Woolf says that she is “exposed to raids, but in the air and with flowers, rooks, gulls, and our lovely view”.

Woolf letter to philip closing lines

Photo of the last lines of the letter (photo from The Guardian)

Dominic Winter Auctioneers provides a description of the letter:

Autograph letter signed ‘Virginia Woolf’, Monks House, Rodmell, Lewes, 12 July [1940], to Philip [Morrell], glad to have had his letter having indirectly heard of his illness and wanting more news, telling him to take up lodging on the ground floor, ‘and go on living. Far too many of my friends have given that up lately. I am so glad you liked that little article. In fact, Hary-o herself isn’t a patch on some of those great ladies – for example, her cousin Lady Lyttelton; so I picked out Selina [Trimmer] by way of making a story of it. I agree: there’s a richness about the Pagan word entirely lacking in the Puritan… ‘, telling how they are living mostly down here in Sussex, ‘exposed to raids, but in the air and with flowers, rooks, gulls, and our lovely view’, saying that they do go up to London every other week and asking to come round one evening, the final paragraph enquiring on the latest of his memoir or sketch of Ottoline [Morrell], 3 pages, black ink on blue paper, lightly creased where folded, 8vo

View the auction catalog for more information on the auction and letter.

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Here is a collection of some of the latest Woolf sightings from around the Web, as recently shared on the Blogging Woolf Facebook page.

  1. Reviewers name Adeline one of the top reads of the year. http://bit.ly/1IBvrdmwoolf_200
  2. Feminist punk choir Gaggle gives performance centered on famous women’s speeches, including Virginia Woolf. http://bit.ly/1NtBBZ2
  3. Peter Mendelsund’s 2014 book, What We See When We Read, asks the reader to consider the geography of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. http://bit.ly/1OKprhS
  4. Virginia Woolf mentioned in “The World-Changing Power of the Flu” in the Oct. 21, 2015, issue of The Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/…/the-world-changing-power-of-the-flu-14…
  5. The Great British Dream Factory: The Strange History of Our National Imagination, by Dominic Sandbrook, disses Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group because of what he deems their snobbery, according to this review. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f5f1fe6a-8899-11e5-90de-f44762bf9896.html
  6. Rebecca Solnit’s Harper’s article on why interviewers won’t stop asking accomplished women about the fruit of their loins, rather than the fruit of their minds. http://harpers.org/archive/2015/10/the-mother-of-all-questions/?single=1
  7. I Call Myself a Feminist, collection of short essays, includes quotes from Virginia Woolf. http://bit.ly/1N44Gyq
  8. Virginia Woolf included in registery listing where everyone was on 29 September 1939 http://www.newstatesman.com/politics
  9. Just a few degrees of separation between Virginia Woolf and Jack the Ripper. Really. http://www.casebook.org/au…/interviews/deborah-mcdonald.html
  10. Virginia Woolf mentioned regarding the transformative effect of illness http://brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/gyms-the-wellness-orthodoxy-and-the-virtues-of-ill-health/
  11. Virginia Woolf sexts from The New Yorker​. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/the-collected-sexts-of-virginia-woolf-and-vita-sackville-west?mbid=social_twitter
  12. Black Rat by Cole Closser takes a simple cartoon archetype – the black rat of the title – and turns him into a funny book version of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. http://bit.ly/1YoLAYw




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Becoming Virginia Woolf Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read, by Barbara Lounsberry, will be out next fall.

The book, which covers Woolf’s second, spare Modernist diary stage, from mid-1918 to mid-1929, can be purchased at a discount through Dec. 11. Download the flyer for details.

Published by the University Press of Florida, Lounsberry’s book is described as the only full-length work to explore the topic of Woolf’s diaries. In it, she illuminates how Woolf’s private and public writing was shaped by the diaries of other writers, including Samuel Pepys, James Boswell and more.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 8.37.39 PM

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Village in the Jungle

A 1926 edition of Leonard’s novel

Sri Lankan Film Director Lester James Peries (LJP) recently sat down for an interview with The Sunday Times Sri Lanka in which he discussed how Leonard Woolf’s anti-imperialist 1913 novel based on Woolf’s experiences as a colonial civil servant in Ceylon, Village in the Jungle, inspired his 1980 film Baddegama.
Peries calls Leonard Woolf’s novel a “masterpiece.” From the interview:

Justifying the efforts he made to bring the novel closer to Lankan viewers, he said ‘Village in the Jungle’ is a masterpiece, authored by a literary giant of the twentieth century – the only fiction written by a colonial ruler on Lankans.

The novel projected the lives of peasants in a village surrounded by the jungles of Hambantota. The author, who was the Government Agent of the Hambantota District and thus himself an agent of imperialism, revealed the insensitivities and injustices of the colonial masters. Woolf was also one of the first who saw the cracks in the British Empire.

LJP was attracted not just by the narrative and literary excellence alone. He saw its sociological and political relevance which pushed him to search for a Sinhala translation.


Leonard Woolf in Ceylon (front center)

Peries also celebrates the lasting influence of Woolf’s novel:


Film Cover for Baddegama (1980)

LJP points out that the novel written in 1913 has survived for over hundred years and inspired not only film-makers but authors like Christopher Ondaatje who in the hundredth year of Woolf’s arrival in Ceylon in 1904 retraced his footsteps to the real village “Malagasnugawala” which is likely to have been Woolf’s “Baddegama.”

In 1960 Leonard and his partner Trekkie Parsons visited Ceylon and although Leonard was nervous about how he would be perceived by Sri Lankans due to, as the article describes, his role “as a former agent of imperialism,” he was warmly welcomed:

[Leonard] had feared he would be vilified as a former agent of imperialism but found himself commended for the part he played which contributed to the then British government rethinking their role which helped Ceylon to gain Independence. Woolf, as LJP points out, had done a great service to Sri Lanka.

In 1980, Baddegama was invited to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight.

You can watch a short clip of the film Baddegama (with English subtitles).

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The 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 7.51.18 PMBloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, June 4-7, was featured this fall on WVIA, the public television station serving northeastern Pennsylvania and the central Susquehanna Valley.

Watch the nine-minute video, “Connecting with Virginia Woolf,” at this link or at the link below:


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