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Archive for April, 2018

Peter, Peter,” cried Clarissa. “My party to-night! Remember my party to-night!

Here is another addition to #DallowayDay events, this one in Princeton, New Jersey. Woolf enthusiasts there will hold their 4th Annual Dalloway Day Garden Tea Party on June 10. Time and location will be announced later.

This year’s event will feature background music from the 1930s, songs from “Permit memrs-dalloway Voyage,” which includes lyrics from Woolf’s diaries, by Dominick Argento, and a Woolf trivia quiz.

The usual menu includes Battenberg Cake, Empire Biscuits, Victoria Spongecakes, Melting Moments cookies, Stilton and poppyseed Sables, with Coronation-style chicken, cucumber and mint, and watercress and egg salad tea sandwiches.

Previous observances in this American college town by an ever-growing circle of Woolf enthusiasts have included brief readings by guests in period attire, music and torch songs from the 20s and 30s, and British nibbles —  with toasts via tea and less sober drinks including Sloe Gin Fizz and Temperance Punch.

Organizers Pat Hyatt and Alexandra Radbil say they are “delighted” to hear the third Wednesday in June has at last been officially sanctified as #DallowayDay on both sides of the pond and will align their event with that date in the future.

 

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An invaluable resource I have often consulted but have always had to borrow from the library is now available online for free.

Brenda Silver’s Virginia Woolf’s Reading Notebooks (1983), published by Princeton University Press, is now available in multiple digital formats, including PDF, Kindle and EPub, with permission from Silver.

Silver’s book describes, dates, and identifies the sources of Woolf’s 67 reading notebooks, which she kept to take notes as she read in preparation for writing reviews, essays, and other works.

The notebooks included in the volume are housed in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection at the New York Public Library; University of Sussex Special Collections; The Keep, Brighton; and the Bienecke Library at Yale University.

Download it from the Dartmouth Library website. You can also read it online.

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The program for Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace: The 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, which will be held June 21-24 at Woolf College at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, is now online.

Registration is open until June 10. Download the program.

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Wednesday 9 January [1924]

At this very moment, or fifteen minutes ago to be precise, I bought the ten years lease of 52 Tavistock Sqre London W.C. 1—I like writing Tavistock. Subject of course to the lease, & to Providence, & to the unforeseen vagaries on the part of old Mrs Simons, the house is ours: & the basement, & the billard room, with the rock garden on top, & the view of the square in front & the desolated buildings behind, & Southampton Row, & the whole of London – London thou art a jewel of jewels, & jasper of jocunditie – music, talk, friendship, city views, books, publishing, something central & inexplicable, all this is now within my reach. – Virginia Woolf, Diary 2, 282-3.

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain held a one-day conference in London last Saturday that doubled as a general meeting for the organization, as well as a celebration of its 20th anniversary. It was coupled with the unveiling of a blue plaque in honor of Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

“Virginia Woolf and her Relatives” was the theme of the conference, and Marion Dell, Philip Carter and Maggie Humm presented papers.

After the conference, the group walked to Tavistock Square for the unveiling of a blue plaque on the exterior wall of the Tavistock Hotel to mark number 52, where Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived from 1924 to 1939. The house was destroyed in World War Two and later replaced with the hotel.

It was at 52 Tavistock Square that Woolf wrote many of her books, including Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own, Orlando, The Waves, The Years, and Three Guineas. Her diary entries talk about her walks around the square as she thought about the novel she was working on. And her nephew, Cecil Woolf, recalls Leonard and Virginia sitting at a table in the garden and sharing a bottle of wine.

Dame Eileen Atkins, honorary president of the VWSGB, unveiled the plaque, which was funded by the society and the Tavistock Hotel. Afterwards, society members attended a reception at which Atkins read extracts from Woolf’s diaries and letters that reflected upon her life in Tavistock Square and her love of London.

Cecil sent Blogging Woolf these photos that commemorate the day.

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson at the plaque unveiling.

Dame Eileen Atkins and Maggie Humm outside the Tavistock Hotel at the plaque unveiling.

The blue plaque on the side of the Tavistock Hotel commemorating Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s tenure at 52 Tavistock Square.

 

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Zadie Smith’s novels and essays never fail to display her keen powers of observation, analysis, and expression. In Feel Free, her new essay collection, Virginia Woolf is a strong influence, never far from Smith’s mind, an “expert witness” to invoke as she regards her subjects and her craft. Five examples serve as evidence.

  1. The first essay that caught my attention was “Life-Writing.” It’s a wry account of failure, much like my own, to keep a diary during adolescence, “a banal account of fake crushes and imagined romance and I was soon disgusted with it and put it aside.” As a young adult she found inspiration in Woolf’s diaries and gave it another go. “I tried to copy the form and style of Woolf’s single-volume Writer’s Diary,” but that didn’t last either. She realized that “I don’t want any record of my days.” For better or worse, her email history is “probably the closest thing to an honest account of my life, at least in writing.”
  2. In “Dance Lessons for Writers” Smith finds applications to writing in the dancing of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, Michael Jackson and Prince, Janet Jackson, Madonna and Beyonce. Fred Astaire’s movements, she says, “are so removed from ours that he sets a limit on our own ambitions. Nobody hopes or expects to dance like Astaire, just as nobody really expects to write like Nabakov.” She introduces the Nicholas brothers, Harold and Fayard: “Writing, like dancing, is one of the arts available to people who have nothing. ‘For ten and sixpence,’ advises Virginia Woolf, ‘one can buy paper enough to write all the plays of Shakespeare.’ The only absolutely necessary equipment in dance is your own body.”
  3. “A Bird of Few Words” considers the portraits of British-Ghanaian painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, whose subjects appear like “a group of intensely creative people in a small community.… Early New York beatniks, maybe, or some forgotten, south London chapter of the Bloomsbury Group. Poets, writers, painters, dancers, dreamers, philosophers—and lovers of same.” Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant are evoked in the modernist palette, and a further connection is made in that Yiadom-Boakye was influenced by Walter Sickert, about whom Woolf wrote a monograph, its cover illustrated by Bell.
  4. In a review of a book about Harlem, Smith compares the author, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, to Woolf in that both are “bookish and devoted, interested in everyday matters,” and like Woolf in A Room of One’s Own, Rhodes-Pitts employs a technique of authorial transparency.
  5. “Notes on NW” Smith speaks directly to Woolf’s influence. In her novel NW she sought to “create people in language,” to do justice to “the unruly, subjective qualities of language” and “the concrete ‘thingyness’ of people.” This was Woolf’s way of being a modernist: “she loved language and people simultaneously.”

Essences of Woolf permeate Smith’s work, overtly and indirectly: “I admire Beckett and respect Joyce. I love Woolf. Whenever the going gets tough I reread her journals and it helps me through.”

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Virginia Woolf common reader Nell Toemen was visiting St. Ives this week and sent Blogging Woolf the accompanying photo of Talland House, where local residents Chris and Angela Roberts are sprucing up the garden.

For more on visiting St. Ives, see In Her Steps.

Talland House, St. Ives, Cornwall

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The details are in for DallowayDay 2018: Woolf, Walking & Writing on Saturday 16 June at the Gower Street Waterstones, four days earlier than the official #DallowayDay of June 20.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson

‘I love walking in London,’ said Mrs. Dalloway. ‘Really it’s better than walking in the country.’

From the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain comes this news:

In one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, set in June 1923, Clarissa Dalloway loves walking as much as did her creator. So this year’s #DallowayDay takes as its theme ‘Woolf, Walking & Writing’.

Gower Street Waterstones and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain invite you to celebrate #DallowayDay with us in London’s Bloomsbury on Saturday 16 June.We start with an hour’s walk (2–3 p.m.) around Bloomsbury guided by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of Virginia Woolf’s London, to places familiar to Virginia Woolf and her friends (please note numbers for the walk are restricted to 25).

The walk ends at Waterstones Gower Street, where we’ll have a panel discussion (3.30–4.30 p.m.) on Woolf, Walking & Writing with authors and special guests.

At 5.30 p.m. we’ll have time for a celebratory glass of wine, then at 6 p.m. Maggie Humm, author of Snapshots of Bloomsbury, will talk about Woolf and photography, illustrated with photographs taken by Woolf and her Bloomsbury friends, starting with images matching up with key moments in Mrs Dalloway.

  • All-event tickets (walk, panel and talk), £24; VWSGB members & students, £18
  • Woolf, Walking & Writing panel, 3.30–4.30 p.m., £8; VWSGB & students, £6
  • Woolf & Photography, by Maggie Humm, 5.30–7.30 p.m. includes glass of wine, £8. VWSGB & students, £6

Bookings are available online http://bit.ly/2FVk5V8 or by phone 020 7636 1577. Please note that online bookings incur an additional fee.

Please note that Wednesday, June 20, has been designated the official #DallowayDay on both sides of the pond this year. Get more details on other #DallowayDay events on the Events page.

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