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Archive for the ‘27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf’ Category

Virginia Woolf readers and scholars from all over the world attended the Woolf conference in Reading, England, earlier this month — and two of them were from Italy, representing the new Italian Virginia Woolf Society.

I was happy to meet Elisa Bolchi, president of the new society, along with member Sara Sullam. And when I mentioned at the Saturday evening banquet that I would love to have one of the society’s lavender buttons, Elisa readily removed hers from her sweater and gave it to me. It is now one of my prized mementoes from the conference, particularly since I am of Italian heritage and will always be in love with Italia.

Here’s an update about the group provided by President Elisa Bolchi.

Elisa Bolchi and Sara Sullam, two members of the new Italian Virginia Woolf Society who attended this month’s Woolf conference in Reading, England. Elisa is the society’s president.

The Italian Virginia Woolf Society now has 84 members. We had our ‘vernissage’ event 13 June (Dalloway’s day!), in the garden of the International House of Women in Rome. The title was ‘Virginia Woolf: the sense of community’, and it was meant to introduce the aims of the Society. The speakers were the founding members: Nadia Fusini, Liliana Rampello, Iolanda Plescia and I.

We now have several events scheduled:

  • 5 October: we will be in Turin to present the Society. We are also planning four events in Turin related to this first presentation: three encounters dedicated to Woolf’s novels and one regarding her essays. We don’t have the dates set yet. We have been invited by the Readers’ Club of Turin.
  • 21 October: We’ll be in Bologna to speak of the “Current relevance of Woolf” in the beautiful conference room of the Salaborsa, the main public library in Bologna.
  • I’ll be also giving a PhD. lecture on the above topic in Perugia, at the end of October or the beginning of November (I don’t have the dates yet).
  • 24-26 November: 2nd edition of the Literary Festival “Il Faro in una stanza”, dedicated to Woolf.
  • For next Spring (probably March) we are planning our first conference, and the theme will be “Woolf and Community”.

Taking a group photo of Italian — and half-Italian — attendees at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf banquet was a must. It includes Sara Sullam, Patrizia Muscogiuri, Paula Maggio, and Elisa Bolchi.

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First, there was the conference. Then came the party. In London. With the Woolfs.

On the Monday evening following days one, two, three, and four of the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson hosted a party in London for their visiting Woolfian friends who remained in town.

I was happy to be among them. But I was chagrined to arrive on their doorstep 20 minutes early due to lightning fast service by my Uber driver.

Cecil and Jean, however, didn’t blink when they answered my too-early knock. They ushered me in and escorted me up the stairs, past stacks of books from their Bloomsbury Heritage Series and a smattering of hats from Jean’s famous collection.

Cecil poured me a glass of wine and settled me in their persimmon-colored sitting room that is casually decorated with original Bloomsbury art by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It was magical.

Cecil and Jean are tremendous hosts who know how to make each guest feel specially welcome, no matter when they arrive. They created a wonderful evening full of camaraderie, good food, and drink, while introducing us to their daughter Emma Woolf, author of numerous books and a regular BBC contributor.

Afterward, when thinking about the evening, a quote came to mind that perfectly captures the mood and magic of the evening.

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (1929)

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson hosted a post-conference party at their London home, which also houses Cecil Woolf Publishers.

This side table decorated by Duncan Grant held appetizers, as well as my little Virginia. #travelswithvirginiawoolf

Cecil Woolf and daughter Emma Woolf at the party.

Louise Higham, Suzanne Bellamy, John McCoy, and Eleanor McNees (far right) were among the party guests.

A firescreen painted by Duncan Grant.

Bloomsbury art above the fireplace, along with a piece by Suzanne Bellamy and a photo of Jean.

Judith Allen and her husband Steve.

More Bloomsbury art.

 

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Photography was forbidden at the Hogarth Press at 100 exhibit and archives tour that was part of the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Nevertheless, Nell Toemen of the Netherlands persisted, as did Clara Farmer from Chatto Wyndham. And that means I have two photos to share.

The first, from Nell, is a photo of the Hogarth Press archives stacks at Special Collections at the University of Reading, which includes a collection of documents related to the Hogarth Press founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf in 1917. When I was on the tour, we were not permitted to take photos, but when Nell asked at a later tour, she was given the go-ahead. Afterward, she graciously shared her photo with Blogging Woolf.

Stacks showing a portion of the Hogarth Press archives at University of Reading Special Collections. Photo: Nell Toemen

The second photo is a screenshot from Clara Farmer’s Chattobooks Instagram account, which shows Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s worn travel satchels. Virginia’s has an Air France tag attached. As some have commented, it’s difficult — and interesting — to think of Virginia on an airplane.

Screenshot of Clara Farmer’s photo posted on Instagram of Leonard and Virginia’s leather travel satchels.

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Our brilliant three and a half days of listening and discussing Virginia Woolf and the World of Books had a noisy ending this afternoon. We heard birdsong and RAF fighters overhead as Anna Snaith of King’s College London presented the final plenary: Virginia Woolf’s “Gigantic Ear.”

Anna Snaith

The combination of natural and mechanical sound came from a 1942 BBC broadcast of birdsong interrupted by 197 RAF planes that Snaith shared. The online recording helped her make the point that Woolf uses sound to great effect in Between the Acts (1941).

Afterward, many Woolf scholars and common readers moved on from the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf — some headed for their homes around the world, others continued their travels.

Chawton House Library

But the group of us who had signed up to go to Chawton boarded the bus to make the one-hour trip to this village in Hampshire.

Once there, we were able to visit Chawton House Library, located in a home once owned by Jane Austen’s brother Andrew and one that Jane visited regularly.

The main collection of the Chawton House Library, which can be explored using an online catalogue, focuses on women’s literature in English during the period 1600-1830, including rare early editions and some unique books.

Jane Austen’s House and Museum

We were also able to visit Jane’s own much smaller home down the road from Chawton House, the only house where Jane lived and wrote that is open to the public as a museum.

Jane Austen’s House Museum uses 41 objects throughout the house she lived in from 1809-1817 to tell the story of this classic British writer.

Our bus at the Chawton car park.

This way to Chawton House. That way to Jane Austen’s House.

Headed down the path to the Chawton House Library

Our group starts the tour of the Chawton House Library in the Great Hall.

A view of the grounds from a Chawton House window.

Just a few of the books on display at Chawton House.

Our first sighting of Jane Austen’s House and Museum.

A look at the garden at the Jane Austen House and Museum.

This is the tiny table where Jane Austen did her writing. Only the tabletop is original.

The rather small bed Jane Austen shared with her sister Cassandra.

This light-filled window in the bedroom Jane Austen shared with her sister Cassandra looks out over the herb garden and the outbuilding where the baking was done.

A group of Woolfians poses in the garden at Jane Austen’s House: Vara Neverow,  AnnMarie Bantzinger, Gill Lowe, and Stuart Clarke.

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Words fail me, despite the energizing papers, panels, and round tables I heard today. Not to mention the Woolf Players, who are performing at this very moment.

So in lieu of words, here is a link to photos that picture events throughout day three of the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

 

The Woolf Players line up for their readings at tonight’s banquet.

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Conference days are long. And full. And draining. But on the afternoon of day two of the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, one plenary session — a roundtable featuring five scholars — perked up the crowd.

It was the session introducing the Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP), a new digital project that currently focuses on the Hogarth Press but plans to include more newly digitized material and information connected with additional publishers as time goes on.

“This is the first time in a long time I’ve wanted to be 22 again,” said Beth Rigel Daugherty of Otterbein University. “Last night [at the Hogarth Press 100th birthday celebration] there was this very strong sense of the past. And this project is moving toward the future.”

Visitors can navigate the site several different ways to locate works, authors, and publishers in which they are interested. They can read synopses of the work, brief bios of the authors, and download high-res images of the book covers. Images can be used under a Creative Commons license.

MAPP is a collaborative project among six scholars and their students and research assistants from several countries. It was spearheaded by Elizabeth Willson Gordon, The King’s University of Edmonton, Canada; Claire Battershill, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada; Alice Staveley, Stanford University; Helen Southworth, University of Oregon; Michael Widner, Stanford University; Nicola Wilson, University of Reading, Reading, England.

The group will be recruiting students to serve as research assistants to write additional book synopses and literary biographies. The site will eventually include pedagogical resources, including lists of syllabi and assignments using the digital resources available on MAPP.

The new Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP) now available online.

Claire Battershill of Simon Fraser University led conference participants through the MAPP website.

Roundtable participants sit below a screen showing a digitized ledger sheet from the Hogarth Press.

 

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The Hogarth Press is 100 years old this year, and the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf marked the centennial with a birthday party that turned out to be a family affair.

Cressida Bell, granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, designed the cake, which was loaded with chocolate chunks and fruit. Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, shared his memories of working at the Hogarth Press starting in 1931, as well as the history of the business.

The Woolfs’ printing business began with their purchase of a small hand printing press in March of 1917. The couple spotted the press in a printer shop’s window, Cecil said, and purchased it for 19£, five shillings and five pence. It came with a 16-page instruction book, type, cases, and other equipment.

Book and art treats, too

Conference participants who attended the party at the Reading, England Museum of English Rural Life were treated to more than cake and Cecil’s charming talk. They were also able to purchase specially printed keepsake editions of  Virginia’s 1924 article “The Patron and the Crocus.” Included in the slim volume is a facsimile reproduction of a reader’s report from the Hogarth Press archives at the University of Reading.

Party-goers were also able to print their own woodcut of the Roger Fry design “The London Garden.”

The publication of “Cecil Woolf: The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press, Virginia and Leonard Woolf as I Remember Them” by Cecil Woolf Publishers also marks the centennial, as does a new Hogarth Chatto & Windus version of the first book published by the Hogarth Press, the Woolfs’ Two Stories.

Cecil Woolf, accompanied by his wife Jean Moorcroft Wilson, talks about being “A Boy at the Hogarth Press” at its 100th birthday party

The Hogarth Press 100th birthday cake, designed by Cressida Bell.

Clara Farmer, publishing director of Hogarth Chatto & Windus, and Cecil Woolf slice the cake.

The Hogarth Press centenary keepsake of “The Patron and the Crocus” offers two different colored letterpress covers.

Martin Andrews of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading patiently helped guests print their own woodcut copies of Roger Fry’s design, “The London Garden.”

Woodcuts hanging to dry at the Hogarth Press 100th birthday party.

Party guests enjoying Cecil Woolf’s reminiscences.

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