Archive for the ‘Vanessa Bell’ Category

Charleston has launched a crowd funding campaign to raise funds for the conservation of painted surfaces in the house, “the world’s only Bloosmbury interior.”

According to the campaign site,

Help Charleston continue to inspire future generations . . . Without your help, the walls will crack, the paint will peel and the surfaces will crumble. Donate now and get a great reward, including tote bags, silk scarves, framed fragments of Charleston’s wallpaper and the chance to see the completed restoration work at an exclusive unveiling event. Help restore Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s iconic painted surfaces for future generations to enjoy.

The fundraising goal is £25,000. As of today, it is 82 percent funded, with 176 funders, some of whom you will recognize.

You can join them to preserve this Bloomsbury treasure that Burberry credits that is as the inspiration behind its autumn/winter 2014 collection, the Bloomsbury Girls, and that is also the setting for much of the filming of this summer’s BBC Two show, “Life in Squares,” about the Bloomsbury Group.

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Three songs from a new song cycle using Virginia Woolf’s letters to her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, are available online via SoundCloud.

Composed by Richard Barnard, they are titled ‘As A Writer‘, Nessa and Duncan, and A Dancing Light. They were recorded by Rhys Maslen at St Augustine’s Chapel, Bristol, and this part of the project was supported by Arts Council Wales.

Here are the descriptions of the songs, as copied from Barnard’s blog:

  1. ‘As A Writer’: Woolf frequently used Vanessa’s art as a metaphor for her own work. Here she describes the writing process as feeling beauty “which is almost entirely colour”, condensing ideas like pouring “a large jug of champagne over a hairpin”.
  2. ‘Nessa and Duncan’: A brilliantly teasing letter in which Woolf imagines a scene at Vanessa and Duncan Grant’s home as they discuss her recently published novel To The Lighthouse (clearly nervous of their judgement!)
  3. ‘A Dancing Light’: Part of a letter of 1937 written soon after the death of Vanessa’s son Julian in the Spanish Civil War.

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An exhibit of Vanessa Bell’s graphic book covers designed for the Hogarth Press are now on exhibit at  The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit, which includes designs for Virginia Woolf’s novels, opened May 11 and runs through Nov. 13.

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Charleston AtticOh, the lovely connections we make in the world of Woolf. This time, the connection gives us all a behind-the-scenes look at Charleston, the Sussex site known as Bloomsbury in the country.

Alice Purkiss, a curatorial trainee at The Charleston Trust, contacted Blogging Woolf via a Facebook message last week to ask that we help publicize The Charleston Attic. The blog was created by Purkiss and fellow trainee Dorian Knight, who just left the project. His replacement at Charleston is Samantha Wilson.

CharlestonIn existence one year,The Charleston Attic shares the trainees’ research at the former home of Vanessa Bell and her family and includes discussions of Woolf and her works. According to the blog, it “is a record of our work cataloguing, researching and interpreting the Angelica Garnett Gift from the Charleston attic – overlooked by a bust of Virginia Woolf.”

Recent posts of particular interest to Woolfians include:

The curatorial trainee project with the Charleston Trust provides for six-month training periods for a dozen trainees over three years.

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Vanessa & Her SisterNearly everyone has reviewed Priya Parmar’s novel, Vanessa and Her Sister. But I haven’t read much about Lea Rachel’s The Other Shakespeare.

Together, they make up a tale of two sisters–Virginia Woolf’s and William Shakespeare’s.

Parmar’s novel drops us down into the middle of the Bloomsbury Group, as seen by Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell. Rachel’s fictional work creates a life for Judith Shakespeare, the character Woolf imagined for us in A Room of One’s Own (1929).

I read both novels recently. And while I would not want to miss Parmar’s, I enjoyed Rachel’s more. The reason? It was easier for me to suspend my disbelief about the life of a young woman in the sixteenth century who is Shakespeare’s sister than it was for me to do the same for Woolf, Vanessa and their friends.

Vanessa and Her Sister

Because I know a bit more about the Bloomsberries than I do about Shakespeare and his family, I felt uncomfortable while I read Vanessa and Her Sister. At first, I read with a hyper-critical eye, trying to separate truth from fiction, on the alert for any misstep, any word or phrase, action or tone that didn’t ring true. I wondered whether the telegrams and letters Parmar includes in the novel were copies of actual documents. Then, when I did some online research, I wondered why they weren’t.

By the middle of the novel, I relaxed a bit, enjoying the story Parmar spins so expertly — and happy to feel as though I was privy to the inner workings of this famous group of friends, thanks to Parmar’s thorough research. The diary entries from Vanessa and the letters and telegrams from other Bloomsbury Group members — all created by Parmar — made Vanessa’s perspective on this group of friends within which she played a central role seem mostly believable to me.

But my anxiety returned when the author covers the twisted relationship between Virginia and Vanessa’s husband Clive Bell and delves into Vanessa’s tortured reaction to it. It was just too difficult for me to focus that much of my attention on such a one-sided view of Virginia’s very bad behavior as she woos Clive’s affection and attention away from Vanessa, who has so recently given birth to the couple’s first child, Julian. After that, I couldn’t wait for the book to end.

Critical reaction

Lesley McDowell, the author of The Independent’s review of Vanessa and Her Sister, had the opposite reaction. She wished the book “would never end” and praised its delicious gossip, beautiful writing and the near-perfect portrayal of the sibling rivalry between sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

Other reviews of the book and interviews with the author include an NPR interview, reviews in the New York Times and Wilton Bulletin, and mentions in USA Today, the New York Daily News, The Missoulian, and on the Glamour blog

The Other Shakespeare

The Other Shakespeare, which I read next, is much lighter fare, despite its tragic ending. Rachel’s tale of Judith, The Other Shakespearethe imagined elder sister of William Shakespeare who creates little dramas and organizes her siblings to stage them in the woods near their family home, was entertaining.

Rachel’s novel kept my interest and attention as it follows Judith from her small village to London, exploring her life as well as the gender politics that her role as daughter, sister, servant, lover and writer entail. The author does a nice job of detailing the ways Judith is denied opportunity and fulfillment simply because she is female. She works them into the story quite neatly, thus developing Woolf’s original premise about Judith in A Room of One’s Own.

And the novel includes references to Woolf and her writing, the identification of which entitle the reader to enter a contest for an Amazon.com gift card giveaway. You can even try out the first chapter of the novel for free by downloading the first chapter as a PDF.

Both books are worth a read. Read Vanessa and Her Sister if you are a true Woolf devotee and don’t want to be left out of the discussion about the novel. And read The Other Shakespeare for fun as well as insights into a woman’s life in 16th-century England.

Then stay tuned for Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf by Norah Vincent.

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A new novel about the Stephen sisters, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, will be out late this year.

Vanessa and Her Sister novelVanessa and Her Sister, written by Priya Parmar and published by Ballantine Books, opens in 1905 as the Stephen siblings move from Kensington to the famous Bloomsbury. Conflict ensues when Vanessa falls in love, Virginia spirals into madness, and Vanessa must decide whether she should pursue her own life or put her sister first, according to a Bookreporter review. Read more review comments on this new piece of historical fiction.

However, it’s not the first novel written about the two famous Stephen sisters. Susan Sellers published her acclaimed version, Vanessa and Virginia, in 2009.

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Vanessa and Her Sister, a novel by Priya Parmar exploring the complicated relationship between the two sisters, will be published by Ballantine in 2015. The historical novel will also cover the Bloomsbury Group.

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