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Archive for the ‘Leonard Woolf’ Category

Clemson University Press is offering two books at a substantial discount until May 1. Download the flyer as a PDF.

An Annotated Guide to the Writings and Papers of Leonard Woolf

The revised edition of An Annotated Guide to the Writings and Papers of Leonard Woolf, by Janet M. Manson and Wayne K. Chapman (2018), 292 pp. (paperback). Normal retail: $34.95. 50% off: $17.50 plus s&h Order the book.

The Annotated Guide is a finding aid to collections of Leonard Woolf papers, which substantially augments previous research tools.

Virginia Woolf and the World of Books

Virginia Woolf and the World of Books, edited by Nicola Wilson and Claire Battershill (forthcoming, 2018), 310 pp. + (hardcover). Normal retail: $120. 70% off: $34.95 plus s&h Order the book.

Although it is not identified as such, this book contains the selected papers from the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, held last June at the University of Reading in Reading, England.

Just over 100 years ago, in 1917, Leonard and Virginia Woolf began a publishing house from their dining-room table. This volume marks the centenary of that auspicious beginning.

Inspired by the Woolfs’ radical innovations as independent publishers, the book celebrates the Hogarth Press as a key intervention in modernist and women’s writing and demonstrates its importance to independent publishing and book-selling in the long twentieth century.

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This Christmas day, I unwrapped a present from my landlady and, completely unexpectedly, a small purple hardback book with gold lettering and a beautiful portrait of Virginia Woolf fell onto my lap. I was delighted, and proceeded to read it cover to cover amidst wrapping paper and ended up holding back tears to prevent myself being utterly embarrassed in front of my in-laws.

virginia woolf life portraits

© Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford

Virginia Woolf (Life Portraits) by Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford poetically weaves the story of Woolf’s life with Alkayat’s considered text and Cosford’s illustrations, a fresh response to the Bloomsbury aesthetic. It opens with the following quote from Mrs Dalloway:

She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was on the outside, looking on.

This liminality, both the relation between work and life and Woolf’s psychological flux, is represented thoughtfully throughout the biography.

street haunting in life portrait

© Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford

Alkayat focuses on the personal details of life: how Vanessa Bell’s sheepdog Gurth accompanied her “street haunting”, how Leonard and Virginia Woolf spent nights during the First World War in their coal cellar sitting on boxes, and that they later named their car “the umbrella”. She also puts us on a first name basis with Virginia, Vanessa and Duncan, et al. – a choice which made me feel closer to their world.

charleston in woolf life portrait

© Nina Cosford

Cosford’s illustrations are both sensitive to the Bloomsbury style and offer a fresh perspective. Her bold lines and patterns used to illustrate the pages about Vanessa Bell’s cover designs for Virginia Woolf’s novels, for example, are edged with mark-making in the mode of Bell. Her use of colour also seems emotive, following the waves of high and low that punctuate the narrative. Her illustrations capture the paraphernalia of every-day life, from the objects atop Woolf’s writing desk – diary, hair grips, photo of Julia, sweets – to the plants in the garden at Monks House, bringing Virginia’s life closer to home.

monks house plants

© Nina Cosford

Illustration and text come together beautifully in this miniature autobiography and would provide any reader with a poetic and surprising escape into the life of Virginia Woolf.

 

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If you haven’t joined the site Academia.edu, you may want to sign up. A number of papers on VirginiaLeonard Woolf bio cover Woolf and the Bloomsbury group are uploaded there and can be downloaded free of charge. Some of them were shared at recent Woolf conferences. You can also search the site for additional resources.

Recently uploaded papers include:

Read more.

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Today would be Leonard Woolf’s 136th birthday. Take a look at these entries from Virginia’s published diaries, made on his birthday from 1921 through 1940. Then scroll down for photos of a commemoration to Leonard at Great Elm.

leonardandvirginiawoolfwedding

Leonard and Virginia Woolf on their wedding day in 1912.

Friday 25 November 1921:

“L’s 41st birthday; & he has just caught a mouse in his hands. . . L. has been dismissed & taken on in another capacity by the same post; & now, this afternoon, he has ben sketching a plan to Green, who is strnded, by whih she may become our secretary. The Hogarth Press, you see, begins to outtgrow its parents.” –  The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. II, P. 144.

Sunday 25 November 1928:

“Leonard’s 48th birthday. We were at Rodmell, where all has fallen into our hands, rapidly, unexpectedly: on top of the field we et a cottage, & Percy [Bartholemew] is ‘ourman’. – The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. III, P. 207.

Monday 25 November 1929:

“I merely add idly (ought I not to be correcting To the Lighthouse) that the difficulties with Nelly are to avoid an apology. She has weakened, & is now all out to catch us weakening. She wished L. many happy returns this morning.. . . I broadcast; & poured my rage hot as lava over Vita. She appeared innocent–I mean of telling H[ilda] M[atheson]. that I could easily cut my Brummel to bits. . . And then in a hurry to Rodmell, where the roof is on, & the floor stretched with planks. The bedroom will be a lovely wonderful room what I’ve always hoped for. – The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. III, P. 267.

Saturday 25 November 1933:

“L’s birthday. Off to see the Sickerts with a view to writing; see his letter. Dear me. This comes however after a lull: I mean they’re sitting in Kensington Gds & I want a breath before I go on to Kitty’s Party” – The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. IV, P. 190.

Wednesday 25 November 1936:

“L’s birthday. Lunch with Clive. The Princess, a waxy solid handsome lady with kind eyes. Not formidable. Ros. eddy Ld Berners. Talk all very brilliant. The usual sense of having done with that when it was half over. And the different changes of light. The intimacy. Then the superficiality. Very cold. An eyeless grey day The same subjects recur. Sybil. Ld. B’s jokes, the same. Ros. muffled & tentative. I, rather too erratic. The P[rincess]. out of things. And I must lunch with her & Ethel tomorrow.” – The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. V, P. 36-7.

Friday 25 November 1938:

“Li’s birthday — 58? But I open this, to note, at the foot of the last pessimistic page, in 2 minutes, the fact that pessimism can be routed by getting into the flow: creative writing. . . A fine cold day: L’s birthday.” – The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. V, P. 189.

Great Elm and Leonard Woolf

The village of Great Elm is the site of the rectory where Leonard Woolf often stayed with his university friend Leopold Campbell Douglas and his wife. It is also the site from which he set out to propose marriage to Virginia Stephen.

So when volunteers began fundraising to join Great Elm to the cycle route to Bath, they bought a brick to commemmorate his connection to the village. This has now been incorporated into an ornamental flight of steps beside the route.

The flight of steps at Great Elm.

The flight of steps near Great Elm Rectory

 

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Produced by BBC TV, this 1970 documentary, Virginia Woolf: A Night’s Darkness, A Day’s Sail, was unavailable for years but is now posted on YouTube.

It is a gem, including footage of Talland House, the Stephen family’s summer home, and Godrevy Lighthouse. It also includes interviews with Leonard Woolf (from 1967), Angelica Garnett, Quentin Bell, George Rylands, Elizabeth Bowen, Duncan Grant, Benedict Nicolson, Lord David Cecil, Dame Janet Vaughn, Raymond Mortimer, and Louie Mayer (the Woolfs’ cook at Monk’s House). They talk about Woolf’s character traits, as well as her genius, her writing habits and her love of London. And they discuss the Bloomsbury Group.

Portions of Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and A Room of One’s Own (1929) are also read on camera. And you’ll see the actual Hogarth press.

She always asked everybody, ‘What did you have for breakfast.’ – Angelica Garnett

 

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Village in the Jungle

A 1926 edition of Leonard’s novel

Sri Lankan Film Director Lester James Peries (LJP) recently sat down for an interview with The Sunday Times Sri Lanka in which he discussed how Leonard Woolf’s anti-imperialist 1913 novel based on Woolf’s experiences as a colonial civil servant in Ceylon, Village in the Jungle, inspired his 1980 film Baddegama.
Peries calls Leonard Woolf’s novel a “masterpiece.” From the interview:

Justifying the efforts he made to bring the novel closer to Lankan viewers, he said ‘Village in the Jungle’ is a masterpiece, authored by a literary giant of the twentieth century – the only fiction written by a colonial ruler on Lankans.

The novel projected the lives of peasants in a village surrounded by the jungles of Hambantota. The author, who was the Government Agent of the Hambantota District and thus himself an agent of imperialism, revealed the insensitivities and injustices of the colonial masters. Woolf was also one of the first who saw the cracks in the British Empire.

LJP was attracted not just by the narrative and literary excellence alone. He saw its sociological and political relevance which pushed him to search for a Sinhala translation.

Leonards-in-Ceylon-300x231

Leonard Woolf in Ceylon (front center)

Peries also celebrates the lasting influence of Woolf’s novel:

Baddegama

Film Cover for Baddegama (1980)

LJP points out that the novel written in 1913 has survived for over hundred years and inspired not only film-makers but authors like Christopher Ondaatje who in the hundredth year of Woolf’s arrival in Ceylon in 1904 retraced his footsteps to the real village “Malagasnugawala” which is likely to have been Woolf’s “Baddegama.”

In 1960 Leonard and his partner Trekkie Parsons visited Ceylon and although Leonard was nervous about how he would be perceived by Sri Lankans due to, as the article describes, his role “as a former agent of imperialism,” he was warmly welcomed:

[Leonard] had feared he would be vilified as a former agent of imperialism but found himself commended for the part he played which contributed to the then British government rethinking their role which helped Ceylon to gain Independence. Woolf, as LJP points out, had done a great service to Sri Lanka.

In 1980, Baddegama was invited to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight.

You can watch a short clip of the film Baddegama (with English subtitles).

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An email from Cecil Woolf this morning reminded me that today would be his uncle Leonard’s 135th birthday.

I posted the reminder on Facebook and sent out a tweet about it.

Others (@manuelardingo @diconodioggi @SomeOfHerParts) picked it up and added to the conversation, resulting in a string of tweets about the day — and how one marks it.

This one included a photo of Virginia’s Nov. 25, 1928 diary entry:

 

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