A recent article from English Studies is now available free on the Taylor and Francis website to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s death.
The article, by Martin Ferguson Smith, is titled Virginia Woolf and “the Hermaphrodite”: A Feminist Fan of Orlando and Critic of Roger Fry, and will be free for any reader until 31 July 2016. The article can be found at http://bit.ly/Woolf_Smith.
Here’s the abstract for the article, which is available for download as a PDF.
After Virginia Woolf’s biography of Roger Fry was published in 1940, she received a letter from Mary Louisa Gordon strongly critical of her portrayal of Roger’s wife, the artist Helen Coombe, and even more critical of Roger’s character and conduct. Mary and Helen had been friends before the latter married in 1896 and went on to develop severe mental health problems. In 1936 the Woolfs had published Mary’s historical novel, Chase of the Wild Goose, about the Ladies of Llangollen. The article is in four sections. Section 1 is introductory. Section 2 is about Mary. It discusses Chase of the Wild Goose, its relationship to Orlando, and Virginia’s comments on it and its author, whom, in letters to Ethel Smyth, she calls “the Hermaphrodite”. It goes on to describe Mary’s life and career as medical doctor, suffragist, first female Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales, and scathing critic of the prison system. Section 3 presents Mary’s letter to Virginia, with significant corrections of the text published by Beth Rigel Daugherty. Section 4 focuses on Helen, and on Mary’s assessments of her and Roger.