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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

Two surprises from abroad awaited me in my mailbox yesterday: a letter from France and a book from England. The letter drewpost my attention first. I took the time to savor it. Then I turned to the book, Godrevy: Views to a Lighthouse.

The cover photo, a moody view of Godrevy Lighthouse — Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse — on an overcast day, made me want to see more. So for now I flipped past the essay on the history of the lighthouse and its place in literature and art, which is written by Jessica Mann and Charles Thomas, and went straight for the photos.

A quote from T.S. Eliot introduces Michael Marten’s photos — and there are 47 pages of them. Most of the photos are laid out in threes over a two-page spread, with each spread setting a scene and evoking a mood. Stormy, sunny, secretive, open-hearted, light, dark — these are just a few of the moods Martin’s photos of the rocks, the beach, and the sky surrounding Godrevy Lighthouse communicate.

He took the photos over a five-year period — and perhaps that adds to their authenticity, since while viewing them, I had the feeling that I was experiencing what it would be like to live within view of the lighthouse Woolf saw from Talland House each summer until she was 12.

Godrevy: Views to a Lighthouse

Godrevy: Views to a Lighthouse

The everyday moments of the lighthouse and its environs that Marten captured also made me wonder what Woolf would have thought when she saw what he saw. I imagined her taking special notice of the greenish-aqua water in one shot or the seagull dashed against the rocks in another or the light shining in a dark blue night sky in another. Paging through this book, I found it easy to imagine the young Virginia and her siblings wandering along the beach, climbing among the rocks, and exploring the cracks and caverns that Marten pictures.

Woolf fans will find this book a treasure, particularly in light of the recent threat to the view of Godrevy from Talland House in St. Ives, Cornwall.

You can flip through a mini version of the book and order it on Michael Marten’s website. But that is just a weak substitute for seeing the book in person.

It is published by Kehrer Verlag, is priced at £30, and was reviewed in depth by the Western Morning News.

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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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Those of us on this side of the pond, without access to BBC programming, are wishing to the lighthouseand waiting—patiently or impatiently—for the as-yet unannounced release of “Life in Squares” to PBS.

While we wait, why not put the time to good use (and help it pass more quickly) by dipping into an enticing list from the outstanding Powell’s bookstore in Portland, Oregon: “25 women to read before you die.”

“Reading Virginia Woolf is like stepping out onto a veranda, where the entire world unfurls before you in dazzling detail.” So begins an inviting introduction to Woolf and specifically to a recommendation of To the Lighthouse.

Woolf joins an eclectic array of companions, authors of both fiction and nonfiction, ranging from Mary Shelley and George Eliot to contemporary greats Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood, thought-provoking essayists Joan Didion and Rebecca Solnit, cartoonist Alison Bechdel and others.

We would all make some swaps—I’d make room for Mary McCarthy, Alice Munro, Penelope Lively—but there’s something for everyone here, both tried and true favorites and some new discoveries. I’ve been wanting to read Clarice Lispector for years—perhaps this is the sign I’ve been waiting for.

I’d rather be watching Life in Squares, but what can you do?

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Most of the reactions below come via Twitter, where “Life in Squares” was a trending topic after the first episode aired last night with an audience of between 1.85 and 1.9 million UK viewers.

In the aftermath, one must-read review is by Frances Spalding, acclaimed biographer of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Her piece on The Conversation website is titled “Life in Squares: how the radical Bloomsbury Group fares on screen.”

Here’s a quote from it:

Her despairing cry may be echoed by some viewers of the BBC’s three-part series Life in Squares, for the Bloomsbury Group attracts many detractors as well as legions of devotees. — Frances Spalding

Be sure to click on the comments below to read Maggie Humm’s assessment of Spalding’s review, along with her own insights.

Family reaction

Before the official premiere, Emma Woolf, great-niece of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, penned her reaction for The Daily Mail: “How TV’s got my aunt Virginia Woolf so wrong.”

And Vanessa Bell’s granddaughter, Cressida Bell, posted this on Facebook the morning after:

Cressida Bell

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Woolfians around the globe have succeeded in saving the view of the lighthouse — for now.

Screenshot from 7/222/15 BBC Entertainment & Arts page

Screenshot from 7/222/15 BBC Entertainment & Arts page

They used email and social media to temporarily halt action on the ill-conceived construction plan that would destroy the view of Godrevy Lighthouse from Talland House, Virginia Woolf’s childhood summer home in St. Ives, Cornwall. The lighthouse is also a key element in Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

Cornwall Council was scheduled to vote on the plan, which calls for building a block of six flats and a car park in front of Talland House, on July 14. But according to stories in the Western Morning News and BBC Cornwall, that vote will take place at a later date.

Virginia Woolf fans spread word of the ill-conceived plan via the VWoolf Listserv, the email lists of the International Virginia Woolf Society (IVWS) and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and through social media. The British society has also posted the news on its website under the heading “Save Woolf’s Talland House View.”

The IVWS put Western Morning News reporter David Wells in touch with Woolf scholars and connected BBC reporter Miles O. Davis with Cecil Woolf, Virginia and Leonard’s nephew. Cecil spoke out on the plan in today’s BBC story and on Blogging Woolf. The main BBC story is posted on the Cornwall section of  the website. A link is also posted on the Entertainment and Arts page. A version of the BBC story also ran in the Observer Chronicle.

Woolfians protested the plan by sending emails to Cornwall Council and St. Ives Town Council, posting comments on the plan, posting messages on the Cornwall Council Facebook page and tweeting to Cornwall Council @CornwallCouncil. They also contacted West Cornwall’s Minister of Parliament Derek Thomas via Twitter and email and tweeted to @EnglishHeritage for assistance.

By this morning, 66 comments against the plan, which would destroy a vital piece of literary history, were posted on the application from developer Porthminster Beach View Ltd. that is now before Cornwall Council. Talland House is considered of historical importance, as it is listed Grade II.

The decision on whether to approve or reject the plans will be made by Cornwall Council on a date to be decided. — BBC Cornwall story, “Virginia Woolf relatives defend view ‘To The Lighthouse'”

Add your voice to protect the historic view

To submit your objections to the plan, send an email to planning@cornwall.gov.uk. Include the planning application number: PA15/04337 in your message.

You can also post a comment on the planning application at this link, but you must register first. To do so, you are required to have a UK postal code. One Woolfian ant the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain suggested using the Talland House postal code, which is TR26 2EH.

Here is a comment posted by Vanessa Curtis, author of Virginia Woolf’s Women and The Hidden Houses of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

I’m saddened to read of this latest threat to such an important part of our literary heritage. Already Talland House, the beautiful listed building so loved by Virginia Woolf and her family, is boxed in by other modern developments which should not have had planning permission granted, but this latest application appears to perhaps be the worst of all. The patch of land that the proposed apartments will be built upon was once owned by Leslie Stephen, Woolf’s father. He took out a 100 year lease on the land to prevent anybody building on it and spoiling his view out towards Godrevy Lighthouse. Please, please do not let the greed of developers wipe out our literary heritage and further ruin the spectacularly attractive coastline of this part of the world. As one drives into St Ives now, the dominant view is no longer that of the Victorian buildings around Talland House, but of various high-rise blocks which would look more at home in inner-city London than overlooking the stunning sweep of Porthminster Beach.

For more details on the plan currently under consideration by Cornwall Council, visit this post: View from Talland House threatened by planned development

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Four Orlando prizes of $1,000 each and publication in The Los Angeles Review are awarded twice yearly for a poem, a short story, a short short story, and an essay by women writers.

Deadline is July 31. Get the details on the A Room of Her Own Foundation website. Submit online.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 4.18.17 PM

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Photo collages posted on Twitter of the gardens at Monk’s House and Charleston Farmhouse introduced me to The Dahlia Papers blog. So I could not resist taking a closer look at Nan Morris’s garden photos.

Now, though, I am wondering how Morris, a garden designer based in South London and Suffolk, got permission to snap photos inside Monk’s House. When I visited years ago, it was strictly forbidden. I want her secret!

Morris provides lots of details about the gardens at both Sussex locations and gives a well-deserved shout-out to Carolyn Zoob’s gorgeous book, Virginia Woolf’s Garden.

For more tweets about lovely gardens, follow Morris at @nonmorris. To read her posts about Monk’s House and Charleston, click on the links below.

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