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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

The Years is, of course, Virginia Woolf’s 1937 novel. The Years (Les Années) (2008) is also a memoir by French novelist Annie Ernaux. Intrigued—coincidence or connection?—and enticed by reviews, I read Ernaux’s memoir and was captivated.

She tells her story without using the pronoun “I,” yet her voice is clear and consistent throughout. And her recollections are my own too. Relating her life by means of “we” and “they,” the narrative stands as a collective memoir of a generation, hers and mine. I also found several links, both direct and implied, between Ernaux and Woolf.

I’m grateful to the editors of Bloom, who gave me an enthusiastic go-ahead on this project and provided it with a home. You can read my essay, “The Years by Annie Ernaux: Memoir of a Generation.”

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Virginia Woolf’s writing lodge at Monk’s House

Emily Florence, a researcher for Lonelyleap, is working on an audio project about people’s connection to place. She sent the message below to the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain. Please contact her directly if you would like to be involved in the National Trust audio project she describes.

I am a researcher at Lonelyleap working on an audio project for the National Trust about people’s connection to place. I wondered whether you or any of your members who have visited Monk’s House might be interested in participating in the project. Obviously the house is a special place for anyone with an interest in Virginia Woolf and so I imagine there may be many people who feel a strong connection to it. Would you mind posting this on your group and asking anyone interested to get in touch via the email stories@lonelyleap.com?

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Vita and Virginia. That was the focus of pre-conference events on #DallowayDay, the day before the start of the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

About 58 Woolf fans boarded a bus at the University of Kent and headed toward two former homes of Vita Sackville-West, where Woolf visited her friend and lover.

We spent the day touring Knole, the ancestral home of the Sackvilles and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, where Vita and Harold Nicolson created a vast world-renowned garden. The National Trust owns and manages both.

Here are some photos from the beautiful, warm, sun-filled day.

Conference attendees arrive at Knole, originally built as an archbishop’s palace but given to the Sackville family in 1603.

Looking through the Knole gate

View from the rooftop of Knole.

Another rooftop view

The orangerie where the Sackvilles once grew oranges and lemons and later stored their cast-offs. It is being refurbished.

On the Knole tour

View of Sissinghurst from the tower after climbing its 78 steps.

Looking back through the archway as we enter Sissinghurst.

The tower where Vita’s personal study is located. It is filled with the room’s original books and furnishings. A portrait of Virgina sits on the desk.

The white garden, a spot where Vita and Harold liked to sit at night over dinner, with the brightness of the flowers helping to illuminate the night.

Closeup in the white garden

Rooftop view of Sissinghurst Gardens

An unusual black flower in the garden

Pink roses climbing up a sun-washed wall

This unusual flower near the archway prompted visitors to stop to take a photo.

Flowers growing up and around a wall structure.

 

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Woolfians from around the world are converging on Canterbury, England this week for the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf with its theme of Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace.

“[E]ven compared with Florence and Venice there is no lovelier place in the world than Canterbury,” Woolf wrote.

Play along as we track Virginia Woolf’s journey to the conference. Then stay tuned for more. #travelswithvirginiawoolf

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Virginia Woolf travels by train from London’s St. Pancras station to Canterbury.

Woolf at Kent

Virginia admires the brochure for the University of Kent’s Woolf College, which is named after her.

Virginia grounds herself in the words of Geoffrey Chaucer as she visits the bronze statue dedicated to him two years ago along Canterbury’s High Street.

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When I’m in England, many things I see have a connection to Virginia Woolf.

Yesterday, Lois Gilmore and I took a double decker bus tour of the city, passing the sights that meant so much to Woolf and her novels.

Of Woolf and words

Many of the sites we saw — from Westminster to the Cenotaph to the Tower Bridge to the River Thames — reminded us of Woolf and brought quotes from her writing to mind.

By afternoon, we made a long-anticipated visit to the Churchill War Rooms, where Churchill and his wartime staff planned and carried out the British response to Hitler and World War II.

From war to peace

Afterwards, I realized that visiting the war rooms was a fitting finale to my London trip before heading to the University of Kent in Canterbury tomorrow for the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf with its theme of “Virginia Woolf, Europe and Peace.”

Ironic and perfect all at once.

At the Churchill War Rooms

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I’m accustomed to drinking in Virginia Woolf. I imbibe her words and her wisdom on a regular basis. But last night I drank her in from a cocktail glass.

The Bloomsbury Club Bar in the Bloomsbury Hotel on London’s Great Russell Street features cocktails named after members of the Bloomsbury Group — from Virginia to Leonard to Vanessa and more.

After Frida Kahlo

After a day viewing the amazing Frida Kahlo exhibit, “Making Herself Up” at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Lois Gilmore and I headed to the hotel’s celebrated bar for a Bloomsbury cocktail. She chose Lytton Strachey. I chose Virginia, a yummy mix of gin, lemon, raspberry shrub, Cocchi Americano and egg white.

The Sitting Room in the Bloomsbury Hotel

First, though, we stopped to warm up in The Sitting Room, a cozy first-floor lounge with a welcoming fireplace, walls hung with portraits of Bloomsbury Group members, and a copy of Frances Partridge’s book, The Bloomsbury Group, prominently placed on the fireside coffee table.

Suggestions to hotel management: Identify the subjects and artists of the reproductions on your walls. Even two Woolf scholars were kept guessing at a few. And provide a safe, child-friendly lounge for your guests with youngsters. A room with an open gas fire whose name — The Sitting Room — promises a relaxed adult retreat is not quite the place for noisy toddlers who don’t sit still for long and their bulky strollers.

At the Dalloway Terrace

Last year I had lunch at the hotel’s Dalloway Terrace, which pays homage to Woolf and her 1925 novel specifically. Its outdoor venue is charming and the food delicious — although I can’t remember what I ordered beyond my dessert, a delectable hot chocolate mousse.

However, Blogging Woolf contributor Kaylee Baucom wrote a detailed review of her trips to the restaurant a year earlier.

Both venues at the Bloomsbury Hotel are worth a trip for Woolf fans. You can decide for yourself whether you want to go back for more. Kaylee votes yes. I say move on to new adventures.

Looking down on the Dalloway Terrace

Desserts at the Dalloway Terrace, including a hot chocolate mousse.

 

Virginia Woolf looks over the Dalloway Terrace menu that pays homage to her most famous character, Mrs. Dalloway.

Warm woolen blankets kill the chill of a crisp London night on the Dalloway Terrace.

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Gower Street Waterstones

About 25 Virginia Woolf fans gathered at Gower Street Waterstones this afternoon to talk about ”Woolf, Walking & Writing” in advance of the official #DallowayDay this Wednesday.

The walk

The bookstore and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain sponsored the event, which began with an hour-long tour of Bloomsbury guided by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of Virginia Woolf’s London.

Jean began the walk with the suggestion that we think about it as a shopping expedition, one Woolf would have taken in her day. She then led us around the Bloomsbury squares where Woolf and other Bloomsbury Group members lived, putting each in context by adding quotes from Woolf’s diaries and references to her 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway.

The talks

Back at the shop, the event included a panel discussion about writing with two writers — Francesca Wade and Farah Ahamed. Wade is writing a book about interwar women and Mecklenburgh Square and Ahamed writes fiction and essays.

The event concluded with wine and a presentation about Woolf’s photographs by Maggie Humm, author of Snapshots of Bloomsbury.

Here are some photos from the day.

The Woolf crowd gathers at Waterstones for the tour led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson on the doorstep of 46 Gordon Square, Woolf’s first Bloomsbury home.

Our next stop was the Tavistock Hotel, where this blue plaque honoring Virginia and Leonard Woolf was installed this spring. The hotel is located on the site of their former home at 52 Tavistock Square, which was destroyed in World War II.

At Waterstones, ready for the #DallowayDay talks

A display of books by and about Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group available at the shop.

Panel discussion on Woolf and writing with M.L. Banting, Farah Ahamed and Francesca Wade.

Maggie Humm talks about Woolf’s photography and how it relates to her writing.

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