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Depiction of Woolf as literary great is not so great

In this set of Literary Greats Paper Dolls from Dover, Virginia Woolf stands among the greats: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dressed up as Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie playing Miss Marple, William Shakespeare as Hamlet.

Woolf, however, doesn’t fare as well. For instead of dressing Woolf as a character from one of her well-known works — say Clarissa from Mrs. Dalloway — this collection of  35 paper dolls of famous authors, depicts Woolf in a straightjacket.

The jury is out on this one

However, she may be treated more respectfully in this set of Literary Paper Dolls, as she is included among 16 literary greats. But since she is not depicted in the illustration or described in the text, it’s hard to know.

If anyone owns a set of these dolls, please let us know how Woolf appears by posting a comment below.

I can’t help but wonder if an artistic Woolfian should design a paper doll of our own doll, along with appropriate costumes that give dear Virginia the respect she deserves.

Woolf Commodified: Virginia Woolf dolls and other items displayed at the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

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Yes, that’s right, Bloomsbury scents. Jo Malone London has created a set of perfumes inspired by the Bloomsbury group.FB message

I first learned of them via a Facebook message from my Arizona niece Christina, who works in the beauty industry. But the word soon spread via the VWoolf Listserv.

A spokesperson for the company said a visit to Charleston inspired the collection, which will launch next month and include five limited edition scents: Blue Hyacinth, Tobacco and Mandarin, Whisky and Cedarwood, Leather and Artemisia, and Garden Lilies. Each fragrance is available as a 30ml bottle and will be priced at £45. Yikes!

Her concept is calculated to perpetuate the modern world’s obsession with the Bloomsbury lifestyle over their work, something Virginia Nicholson criticized in her recent interview on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour program.

Read more hype about the collection in The Telegraph.

We enjoyed the idea that this group of people appeared to be very English and proper but they were in fact non-conformists and true hedonists. We liked how the ‘proper’ contrasted with the ‘promiscuous’. -fragrance director Celine Roux

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Beaumont is a small high desert city in Southern California’s “Inland Empire,” about 80 miles east of Los Angeles on the road to Palm Springs. I don’t know anything about the community’s literary and cultural climate and certainly don’t mean to slight residents when I say that it doesn’t strike me as a place where one would find many Woolfophiles.

But hey, I could be selling the heartland short. When my writer/musician friend Bill Bell, who lives in neighboring Banning, was prowling around the Beaumont swap meet one day recently, he too was surprised to come across this one-of-a-kind treasure. Happily he thought of me and generously paid $2 to buy it for me. It’s a wooden paintbox, about 12” x 16.” Both sides are painted, one with a whimsical winged elf. The other side is a fair-to-middling copy of the Beresford portrait of young Virginia Stephen next to a quotation I wasn’t familiar with. I traced it to Jacob’s Room:

It’s not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases that age and kill us; it’s the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of the omnibuses.

I wonder how someone, having created this gem, could bear to part with it, but it’s found a good home here in my study, surrounded by my books and an assortment of compatible Woolfiana.

 

 

 

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Artist Ruth Dent has created a handpainted scarf to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s first novel The Voyage Out.

You can purchase The Voyage Out Centenary Scarf online through her IndieGoGo campaign. Printed digitally on silk, only 100 are available.

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If you are attending the 25th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries, held June 4-7 at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pa., you can add the conference T-shirt to your collection. Just place your order for a shirt when you register. The cost is $12.

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Remember the Virginia Woolf desk acquired by Duke University that we wrote about last week? Additional details about the desk, which Woolf designed and her nephew Quentin Bell painted, have come to us from Caroline Zoob, author of Virginia Woolf’s Garden: The Story of the Garden at Monk’s House

Zoob, who lived at Monk’s House for a decade as a tenant of the National Trust, said she had never seen the desk. So she wrote Naomi Nelson of Duke, asking if the desk Duke had acquired — one Zoob described as “slopey” — had ever been at Monk’s House.

Nelson quoted from a letter dated Jan. 5, 1981, from Bell to Colin Franklin, to whom Bell sold the desk in 1980:

The history of it as far as I can remember is this: it remained in my aunt’s possession until about 1929, having been taken first to Asheham and then to Monks House at Rodmell. There in some kind of general turnout and spring clean, Virginia decided to throw it out. I think she had for many years abandoned the habit of writing in an upright position and certainly I never saw her doing anything of the kind, so that this tall desk, usually, I think, used by office workers of the last century and requiring the writer to stand or to sit on a very high stool, was going free. I was offered it and accepted it, and it came to Charleston.

According to Nelson, Bell’s letter “goes on to describe painting the design on the top and reveals that his wife [Olivia] shortened the legs (‘long before the current revival of interest in Virginia Woolf.’)”

Lisa Baskin Unger acquired the desk from Franklin, and it became one of “the most iconic items” in her collection, which is described as one of the largest and most significant private collections on women’s history. So the Virginia Woolf desk now in Duke’s possession is apparently Woolf’s original stand-up desk with its legs shortened to suit Olivia Bell.

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University recently acquired Unger’s collection and is now in the process of cataloguing it. The Baskin Collection also holds a collection of letters to Aileen Pippett, author of The Moth and the Star, the first full-length biography of Woolf. Pippett’s correspondents include Vanessa Bell.

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From Twitter via @CitizenWald came the tweet at the bottom of this post. And because it was about a Virginia Woolf desk, I had to find out more.

It turns out that Virginia Woolf designed this writing desk herself, and it was painted by her nephew Quentin Bell. It certainly doesn’t look like the messy desk in The Lodge at Monk’s House that Annie Leibovitz photographed several years ago.

The desk Woolf designed was just one artifact acquired as part of one of the largest and most significant private collections on women’s history by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University.

The collection, assembled over a period of 45 years by noted collector Lisa Unger Baskin, includes the work of women from the Renaissance to the modern era. More than 8,600 rare books and thousands of manuscripts, journals, ephemera and artifacts are in the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection at Duke.

Materials from the collection will be available to researchers once they have been cataloged. Some items will be on display in the renovated Rubenstein Library when it reopens to the public at the end of August 2015.

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