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Mireille Duchêne, a Virginia Woolf scholar from France, last year published a new work on Woolf in both French and English that includes the modernist writer’s unpublished notebook for the years 1907-1909.

The French edition

Virginia Woolf, Carnet inédit (1907-1909) (Editions Universitaires de Dijon (EUD), Université de Bourgogne). Text Established, Edited, Translated in French and with an Introduction by Mireille Duchêne.

The English edition

Virginia Woolf, An Unpublished Notebook (1907-1909). Text Established, Edited and with an Introduction by Mireille Duchêne (Editions Universitaires de Dijon (EUD), Université de Bourgogne).

Woolf’s journal and her education

Woolf’s unpublished journal is made up of hastily written notes on the Greek and Latin classics which she had read avidly since adolescence.

While it was long thought that Woolf had no formal college education, that has been proved false. We now know that from the age of 15 to 19, Woolf took classes in continental and English history, beginning and advanced Greek, intermediate Latin and German grammar at the King’s College Ladies’ Department. She also had private tutors in German, Greek and Latin. While at King’s, Woolf reached examination level standards in some of the subjects she studied and took Greek from George Charles Winter Warr, one of the foremost Greek scholars of his day.

About the book

From the publisher comes this description:

Between 1907 and 1909 Virginia Woolf, who was not yet a world-famous writer, kept a notebook which is here published for the first time. It belongs to the Monk’s House Papers (Greek and Latin Studies). These extremely precious pages written by a 25-year-old woman illustrate the novelist’s lifelong familiarity with classical humanities. They shed new light on Virginia Woolf’s biography and on a period of her existence which the Journal largely ignores. Under the guise of simple notes jotted down on paper, it offers an intellectual portrait of someone who, like the narrator in A Room of One’s Own, has not found her place in the academic world. Written at the time when the Bloomsbury group was developing, this text makes it possible to explore the links which Virginia Woolf, overshadowed by her dead father and brother, wove between classical humanities and contemporary literary experiments.

About the translator and editor

Mireille Duchêne teaches classical and modern literature at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon. Her research focuses on childhood and education. She has published several papers on Virginia Stephen.

The reproduction of this notebook, including Woolf’s crossings-out and alterations, takes up a scant half of this slim volume. The remaining pages are split between Duchêne’s introduction and her short essays … Coming at a time when there surely cannot be many “new” things left to publish by Woolf, An Unpublished Notebook therefore takes its rightful place on the collector’s shelf.- Times Literary Supplement review, July 12, 2019

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A Virginia Woolf Word Portrait by Akron, Ohio artist John Sokol received as a Christmas gift in 2016. The words of “A Room of One’s Own” form her visage.

How did Virginia Woolf celebrate Christmas? What thoughts did that day bring to her mind? I thumbed through the edited versions of her diaries to find out.

Editor Anne Olivier Bell includes explanations of where Virginia and Leonard were at Christmas through the years. But while the edited diaries include three entries for days near Christmas, only two of Virginia’s entries were written on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Here is a synopsis of where the Woolfs spent Christmas from 1917 through 1940, along with what they did and what Virginia wrote.

1917: Leonard and Virginia are at Asheham for Christmas, the rented country house in East Sussex where they spent weekends and holidays from 1912 until 1919. (D1 93)

1916-1922: No mention of the Woolfs’ Christmas is included in Volumes I or II of the edited diaries.

1923: Leonard and Virginia spend Christmas at Monk’s House in Rodmell, Sussex, the 16th-century home they began occupying in 1919. (D2 278)

1924: The Woolfs are again at Monk’s House, arriving on Christmas Eve and bringing Angus Davidson with them. Virginia had collaborated with Quentin Bell to produce a Christmas Supplement to the Charleston Bulletin. It recorded scenes in the life of Duncan Grant. (D2 327)

1925: The Woolfs spend Christmas at Charleston, since Monk’s House is in the midst of alterations. Virginia and Quentin again collaborated on a written piece, this time depicting scenes from the life of Clive Bell. (D3 53)

Vanessa Bell painting of Woolf knitting in an armchair at Asheham

1926: Virginia and Leonard spend Christmas in Cornwall at Eagle’s Nest, Zennor with Ka and Will Arnold-Forster. (D3 119)

1927: The Woolf take the train from London to Lewes on Christmas Eve, then drive to Charleston. They spend three nights there before going back to Monk’s House. Vanessa and Clive are away, spending Christmas with his widowed mother in Wiltshire. (D3 169)

1928-1930: No mention of Christmas is included in Volume III of the diaries for these years.

1931: The diary for this year includes the only entry written on Christmas Day. It reads in part:

Friday Xmas morning

Lytton is still alive this morning. We thought he could not live through the night. It was a moonlit night . . . This may be the turn, or may mean nothing. We are lunching with the Keynes’. Now again all ones sense of him flies out & expands & I begin to think of things I shall say to him, so strong is the desire for life—the triumph of life…

Talk to L. last night about death: its stupidity; what he would feel like if I died. He might give up the Press; but how one must be natural. And the feeling of age coming over us: & the hardship of losing friends; & my dislike of the younger generation; & then I reason, how one must understand. And we are happier now. (D4 55)

1932-1935: The Woolfs are at Monk’s House for Christmas. In 1933, Vita Sackville-West and her two sons are guests for tea. (D4 133, 195, 266, 360)

1936-1938: Virginia and Leonard are again at Monk’s House. In 1936, they have lunch and tea with Lydia and Maynard Keynes, beginning a Christmas tradition. This year, the tea is at Tilton. In 1937, the Woolfs host lunch for the four of them. In 1938, tea is at Tilton and Christmas dinner at Charleston. (D4 44, 122, 193)

1939: The Woolfs are at Monk’s House and bicycle to Charleston in a fog for Christmas dinner. (D4 252)

1940: At Monk’s HouseVirginia pens a two-part entry dated Tuesday 24 December, which contrasts the soberness of life during wartime with the natural beauty of the countryside.The second portion reads in part:

[Later] 24th Dec. Christmas Eve, & I didnt like to pull the curtains so black were Leonard & Virginia against the sky…and then the walk by the wall; & the church; & the great tithe barn. How England consoles & warms one, in the deep hollows, where the past stands almost stagnant. And the little spire across the fields…

Yes, our old age is not going to be sunny orchard drowse. By shutting down the fire curtain, though, I find I can live in the moment; which is good; why yield a moment to regret or envy or worry? Why indeed? (D5 346)

The doorway to Virginia Woolf’s bedroom on a sunny July day at Monk’s House, Rodmell, Sussex.

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Barbara Lounsberry’s volumes on Virginia Woolf’s diaries are available at a deep discount from the University of Florida Press through Dec. 7.

The volumes include Becoming Virginia Woolf ($18), Virginia Woolf’s Modernist Path ($35), and Virginia Woolf, the War Without, the War Within ($40).

Order online by visiting the UFP website and entering the discount code MSA18 at checkout. You can also download the flyer.

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Anne Olivier Bell, art scholar, Bloomsbury matriarch, widow of Virginia Woolf’s nephew Quentin, and editor of her diaries, died yesterday at the age of 102.

Bell also helped Quentin pen his 1972 biography of his aunt and the two were instrumental in saving Charleston Farmhouse, preserving it for future generations of Bloomsbury scholars and fans.

In addition, she was known for playing an instrumental role in saving European art from the Nazis during World  II, serving in the Monuments Men effort.

As a result of her marriage to Quentin, Olivier moved into the heartland of the Bloomsbury milieu and, having inherited its values, became one of the most vigorous (and vigilant) guardians and promoters of the Bloomsbury revival. – “Anne Olivier Bell obituary,” The Guardian, July 19, 2018.

Read The Guardian obituary.

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img_1932Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Jan. 25, 2016. It was so popular, we think it bears republishing today.

Today is Virginia Woolf’s birthday. She was born in Kensington, London, 135 years ago today, on Jan. 25, 1882, at 12:15 p.m.

Below are entries from her published diaries dated on her birthday or the day after. Some refer specifically to the gifts she received, the things she did and the people she saw on her birthday. The last one, written on Jan. 26, 1941, the year of her death, does not.

1897

Passionate Apprentice

Monday 25 January

My birthday. No presents at breakfast and none til Mr Gibbs came, bearing a great parcel under his arms, which turned out to be a gorgeous Queen Elizabeth — by Dr Creighton. I went out for a walk round the pond after breakfast with father, it being Nessas drawing day. Went out with Stella to Hatchards about some book for Jack, and then to Regent St. for flowers and fruit for him; then to Wimpole St. to see how he had slept, and then to Miss Hill in Marylebone Rd. Jo [Fisher] was there discussing the plans for Stellas new cottages with Miss Hill. All three learnedly argued over them for half an hour, I sitting on a stool by the fire and surveying Miss Hills legs — Nessa went back to her drawing after lunch, and Stella and I went to Story’s to buy me an arm chair, which is to be Ss present to me — We got a very nice one, and I came straight home, while Stella went on to Wimpole St. Gerald gave me £1, and Adrian a holder for my stylograph —Father is going to give me Lockharts Life of Scott — Cousin Mia gave me a diary and another pocket book. Thoby writes to say that he has ordered films for me. Got Carlyles Reminiscences, which I have read before. Reading four books at once — The Newcomes, Caryle, Old Curiosity Shop, and Queen Elizabeth — (21-22)

1905

25 January

Another lazy morning — read however the greater part of my review book, so that will be written tomorrow with luck — & then? — I must turn about for something fresh to do. My birthday, by the way — the 25th but, as usual, it was somehow rather forgotten which one begins to expect at my age —! Violet to lunch, & she did bring a present — a huge china inkpot which holds almost a jar full of ink, & is rather too large to be practicable. I must cultivate a bold hand & a quill pen — Georges motor after lunch, in which we did various long distance jobs — then home, read my review book, & dinner at 7.30 as we went with Gerald to Peter Pan, Barries play — imaginative & witty like all of his, but just too sentimental — However it was a great treat (227-228).

1915

VW Diary I

Monday 25 January

My birthday—& let me count up all the things I had. L. had sworn he would give me nothing, & like a good wife, I believed him. But he crept into my bed, with a little parcel, which was a beautiful green purse. And he brought up breakfast, with a paper which announced a naval victory (we have sunk a German battle ship) & a square brown parcel, with The Abbot in it—a lovely first edition— So I had a very merry & pleasing morning—which indeed was only surpassed by the afternoon. I was then taken up to town, free of charge, & given a treat, first at a Picture Palace, & then at Buszards. I don’t think I’ve had a birthday treat for 10 years; & it felt like one too—being a fine frosty day, everything brisk & cheerful, as it should be, but never is. The Picture Palace was a little disappointing—as we never got to the War pictures, after waiting 1 hour & a half. But to make up, we exactly caught a non-stop train, & I have been very happy reading father on Pope, which is very witty & bright—without a single dead sentence in it. In fact I dont know when I have enjoyed a birthday so much—not since I was a child anyhow. Sitting at tea we decided three things: in the first place to take Hogarth, if we can get it; in the second, to buy a Printing press; in the third to buy a Bull dog, probably called John. I am very much excited at the idea of all three—particularly the press. I was also given a packet of sweets to bring home (28).

1918

Friday 25 January

My Birthday. L. slid a fine cow’s horn knife into my hand this morning. Nelly has knitted me a pair of red socks which tie round the ankle, & thus just suit my state in the morning. Another event kept me recumbent. Barbara came, & together we “dissed” 4 pages, & L. printed off the second 4 at the printers—altogether a fine days work. At this rate Katherine’s story will be done in 5 weeks. We rather think of doing a little book of woodcuts, either after this book or at the same time, on our small press. Our dinner tonight was a sacrifice to duty on a fine scale; never were we more ready for an evening alone; books to read; a sense of a great deal of talk already discharged this week; but rather before 7.30 came Clara [Woolf] & the Whithams, whom we had asked with a view to killing each other off without more waste than was inevitable. Whitham’s elaborately literary get up is a fair index of his mind. He is what the self-taught working man thinks genius should be; & yet so unassuming & homely that its more amusing than repulsive. His passion for writing is the passion of the amateur—or rather of the person who’s got it up from a text book. Seeing Cannan’s new novel he said “Ah, Cannan, yes—he’s very weak in construction isn’t he?” And so with all the rest. He told me his books had a way of “screaming”, & with great enthusiasm, after asking the fate of my fiction which is a point of honour in professional circles, he ran over all the novels he’s got ready or half ready, or only in want of “phrasing”—which process he applies at the end. He begins with a synopsis, which takes him 3 months: but I didn’t listen to the whole story. They withdraw soon to Devonshire, where directly the war ends (but even the war hasn’t prevented him from adding a new book to the list) he is going to work hard. Writing all the morning, reading & walking the rest of the day (113).

1921

VW Diary II

Tuesday 25 January

Here have I waited 25 days before beginning the new year; & the 25 is, not unfortunately my 25th, but my 39th birthday; & we’ve had tea, & calculated the costs of printing Tchekov; now L. is folding the sheets of his book, & Ralph has gone, & I having taken this out of the press proceed to steal a few minutes to baptise it. I must help L. & can’t think of a solemn beginning. I’m at a crisis in Jacob: want to finish in 20,000 words, written straight off in a frenzy. And I must pull myself together to bring it off. . . Spring has miraculously renewed herself. Pink almond blossoms are in bud. Callow birds crow. In short, he’s out of love & in love, & contemplated eloping with a Spaniard in a motor car. “But after all, I said to myself as I walked back, I like to think of my book & my armchair. It’s terrible, terrible. I can’t give up my old friends after all” (86).

1930

Diary Vol. 3

Sunday 26 January

I am 48: we have been at Rodmell—a wet, windy day again; but on my birthday we walked among the downs, like the folded wings of grey birds; & saw first one fox, very long with his brush stretched; then a second; which had been barking, for the sun was hot over us; it leapt lightly over a fence & entered the furze—a very rare sight. How many foxes are there in England? At night I read Lord Chaplin’s life. I cannot yet write naturally in my new room, because the table is not the right height, & I must stoop to warm my hands. Everything must be absolutely what I am used to (285).

1931

Monday 26 January

Heaven be praised, I can truthfully say on this first day of being 49 that I have shaken off the obsession of Opening the Door, & have returned to Waves: & have this instant seen the entire book whole, & how I can finish it–say in under 3 weeks (7).

1941

VW Diary Vol. 5

Sunday 26 January

A battle against depression, rejection (by Harper’s of my story & Ellen Terry) routed today (I hope) by clearing out kitchen; by sending the article (a lame one) to N.S.: & by breaking into PH 2 days, I think, of memoir writing.

This trough of despair shall not, I swear, engulf me. The solitude is great. Rodmell life is very small beer. The house is damp. The house is untidy. But there is no alternative. Also days will lengthen. What I need is the old spurt. “Your true life, like mine, is in ideas” Desmond said to me once. But one must remember one cant pump ideas. I begin to dislike introspection. Sleep & slackness; musing; reading; cooking; cycling; oh & a good hard rather rocky book–viz: Herbert Fisher. This is my prescription. We are going to Cambridge for two days. I find myself totting up my friends lives: Helen at Alciston without water; Adrian & Karin; Oliver at Bedford, & adding up rather a higher total of happiness. There’s a lull in the war. 6 nights without raids. But Garvin says the greatest struggle is about to come–say in 3 weeks–& every man, woman dog cat even weevil must girt their arms, their faith–& so on.

Its the cold hour, this, before the lights go up. A few snowdrops in the garden. Yes, I was thinking: we live without a future. Thats whats queer, with our noses pressed to a closed door. Now to write, with a new nib, to Enid Jones (354-355).

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