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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

Editor’s Note: The following post was provided by Virginia Woolf scholar Beth Rigel Daugherty. She wrote this recommendation of a 2017 immersive course in Cambridge on Virginia Woolf, organized by Trudi Tate and Ericka Jacobs, after attending the summer 2016 session.

Woolf’s Rooms is one of two immersive summer courses on Virginia Woolf organized by Literature Cambridge in July 2017 at Homerton College, Cambridge. Each will include lectures, supervisions, and excursions.

Newnham College Hall

Newnham College Hall

If the 2016 summer five-day course on Woolf is any indication, Beth says, “those seeking mental food in the summer of 2017 will find it delightful and stimulating.

Here is Beth’s testimony:

Where we stayed

From the time we arrived on the afternoon of July 17 to the time we left on the morning of July 23, the accommodations and grounds at Homerton College sheltered us comfortably amid garden-lined walks; the meals, many of them prepared by the Cambridge Cookery School next to Homerton, provided us with healthy and beautiful food; the reading list, some novels and a few essays, gave us intellectual anchors, and the Cambridge experience, supervisions and all, kept us busy thinking and talking.

What we studied

We focused on a different Woolf text each day by way of a lecture, a supervision, and an extra event or excursion of some kind. We read “How Should One Read a Book?” and “Leslie Stephen,” A Room of One’s Own, Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and dipped into The Waves.

We listened to Susan Sellars, Trudi Tate, Alison Hennegan, and Gillian Beer. We went to Girton and Newnham Colleges, visited Bloomsbury where we saw the inside of 46 Gordon Square and visited the British Museum, and travelled to Grantchester for tea and a talk by Claire Nicholson on Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke. We got handouts, bibliographies, and maps.

We enjoyed hearing Susan Sellers read from Vanessa and Virginia and Claire Nicolson talk to us about the women’s colleges in the Girton room where Woolf talked to the young women there, a room lined with incredible embroidered panels done by Lady Julia Carew in the nineteenth century. We learned about Newnham traditions and book collections from Development Director Penny Hubbard and the current Librarian Debbie Hodder, and we saw and learned about the Bloomsbury art lining the rooms on the 3rd floor of 46 Gordon Square from art historian Claudia Tobin.

Claudia Tobin in Tavistock Square, London

Claudia Tobin in Tavistock Square, London

The supervisions were particularly interesting for those of us unfamiliar with the Cambridge and Oxford style of education. In the hour-long sessions, three or four participants asked questions about or commented on specific textual passages of their choice with a faculty member, thus combining close reading with discussion.

Participants talked with each other and with the supervisor about the meaning of particular words or phrases, about the historical or cultural context of the passage for Woolf, readers at the time, and us, and about the connection of such passages to the work and Woolf’s writing as a whole. Heady stuff!

Also, the blend of intensity and freedom during the course was just right – every day, we had several hours of free time for reading, conversation, naps, or travels into Cambridge city centre. Plus, the whole incredible week was topped off by a formal dinner and an amazing presentation by Kabe Wilson, who has an MPhil in English from Cambridge. Using every single word used by Woolf in A Room of One’s Own, Wilson has created an original text about a mixed-race woman student struggling against Cambridge’s (and Woolf’s) exclusion of her, Of One Woman or So by Olivia N’Gowfri. (See more about Kabe Wilson.

Who we met

What really made the week, though, were the people. Twenty-one of us came from around the world: Japan, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Canada, Scotland, England, and the US. We viewed Virginia Woolf through very different lenses and perspectives, and we had come to Virginia Woolf through very different texts and from a variety of subject areas. When we introduced ourselves on the first day by describing how we first met Woolf, only a few of us mentioned school; several described near-conversion experiences; and all spoke movingly about those initial encounters, our memories of when passion for her work ignited.

We were common readers, students, and a sprinkling of academics; we were young, middle-aged, and retired; we were women and men. But we were united in our love of Virginia Woolf’s language and work, our open curiosity, our hunger to learn more.

It was an extraordinary week, begun with some trepidation and uncertainty and ending with intellectual bonding and camaraderie. Trudi and Ericka had thought of almost everything, and when they hadn’t, they responded quickly to questions or concerns. We were supported in a lovely venue and by a clear framework, and we were challenged by lots of questions (many of them reverberating still) and the injunction to read, re-read, and re-think, to keep consulting the text, to see Woolf and her texts again and again.

Trudi and Ericka solicited all kinds of feedback about how they could improve the course, so some of the details for the 2017 Virginia Woolf in Cambridge will surely change. But you can count on their making every effort to create a warm, welcoming, and supportive environment for engaging with Woolf and her work next summer, when the theme will be Woolf’s Rooms. Do consider becoming a student at Cambridge for a week – you’ll be glad you did!

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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.

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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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Chiara Ferretti, an Italian fan of Virginia Woolf, sent Blogging Woolf this photo of a Woolf sighting she made in Venice. She found the Woolf poster at the Calle del Perdon, San Polo.

Woolf herself visited Venice three times — in 1904 with her family, in 1912 on her honeymoon with Leonard, and in 1932 with Leonard, Roger Fry and Margery Fry. On her 1904 trip, she stayed at the Grand Hotel on the Grand Canal.

On the occasion of her first visit, she wrote this in a 4 April 1904 letter to Violet Dickinson:

There never was such an amusing and beautiful place. We have a room here right at the top just at the side of the Grand Canal . . I can’t believe it is a real place yet and I wander about open-mouthed

For more on Woolf’s travels, visit In Her Steps and check out Travels with Virginia Woolf (1993) by Jan Morris.

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This I believe. And I voted for Hillary.

As a woman

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I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I am partial to the work of Anne Carson and Mary Oliver (and oftencoverstory-blitt-significant-others-847x1200-1477066235 confuse the two). It’s no surprise that both have referenced Virginia Woolf in their poems, no doubt recognizing her as the poet she was even though she never wrote a line of verse as such.

Anne Carson has written very little prose, so her story in this week’s (Oct. 31) New Yorker is a lovely gift. “Back the Way You Went” is exquisite, a tiny gem, as it questions so many aspects of existence in a daughter’s reflections on her mother.

The narrator comments on a dishtowel she’s given her mother-in-law, “printed with cartoon cameos of Bloomsbury celebrities.” She’s thinking about her flawed communication with her own mother, recently deceased, their fear of breaking the silence that’s built up between them. She asks herself, “Are other families like this? I know I’m setting the bar high, but I cannot imagine it was ever the wrong time to talk in, say, Bloomsbury.” And yet Woolf may have seen it otherwise; Carson’s narrator goes on to recall a passage from “A Sketch of the Past”:

“We are sealed vessels afloat upon what is convenient to call reality; at some moments, without a reason, without an effort, the sealing matter cracks; in floods reality….”

She asks, “Was it Virginia Woolf who taught us to adore these floods of reality, without which we merely navigate a sea of convenience with other people?”

Even without Woolf, the story is stunning; with her it’s even more so, and, as always seems to be the case when Woolf is referenced in fiction, so appropriate, leading this Woolfian to think, “Well, yes, of course.”

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chanya-button-strong-female-characters

Chanya Button will direct the upcoming film Vita and Virginia (image from TheFrisky.com).

Chanya Button, the director for the upcoming film Vita and Virginia, which will be about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, recently spoke with ScreenDaily.com about her upcoming film.

According to the article shooting for the film will start in March or April of 2017.

Button is now an up and coming director, but as a student she studied English Literature at Oxford University. She admits that she has had a long relationship with Woolf. From the article:

Virginia Woolf has been a passion for me for a long time,” Button said.

Button states that Woolf inspired her recent film Burn Burn Burn, an independent feature which will be available to stream on Netflix soon:

Woolf has influenced how I think about everything, there is even an essay she wrote, On Being Ill, that influenced Burn Burn Burn.”

According to the article, the film will cover about 15 years of the relationship between Woolf and Sackville-West, but we are now learning that it will focus specifically on events that occurred between 1925-1927. From Button:

“It’s about how their relationship inspired Orlando, It’s the study of a complex female relationship…

“It’s a fresh period drama…Also, you get a view into her creative genius, and some bonkers surreal visions.”

You can follow Chanya’s Twitter page where she has been documenting some of her research expeditions for the film including a trip she made to Vita’s home Knole House.

 

 

 

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Sunday, Oct. 16, marks the centenary of the arrival at Charleston of Vanessa Bell, DuncanCharleston Grant and David ‘Bunny’ Garnett. In honor of that, the National Trust property has programs and activities planned for this weekend, as well as into the new year.

They include everything from “Your Country or Your Conscience,” a pacifist theater performance by White Feathers Theatre, to tours of usually unseen parts of the farmhouse ,to art workshops.

The cafe will even have a special menu inspired by the Charleston Garden and The Bloomsbury Cookbook.

Get more details and booking information.

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