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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

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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In conjunction with #DallowayDay 2018 the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain is asking Woolf fans for their favourite Woolf quotation.

Don’t worry about the exact words; organizers say they can probably find the one you mean.

Here’s what to do. Just click on the ‘Send Message’ button on the VWSGB Facebook page and type in your favourite Woolf quotation, where it comes from and a few words about why you like it, and the group will add it to the list.

The VWSGB needs quotes by the third Wednesday in June, which most Woolfians consider to be the day on which Clarissa Dalloway takes her walk around London and holds her party. This year, as in 1923, when the novel is set, this falls on Wednesday 20 June.

When all ideas are collected, the top five will be listed and members will be asked to vote for one of them by 30 June. Results will be announced in early July.

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In 1981, in a small Northern California town, a group of like-minded feminists opened a community library. They wanted a place to read and write, to discuss books, and above all, they wanted “a library you can eat in. And thus The Sitting Room was born, and lives, and celebrated its 37th birthday this past Sunday, June 3.

Eminent Woolfian and Professor Emerita at Sonoma State University, J. J. Wilson is one of The Sitting Room’s founders and perhaps its luckiest member, as she lives (six months out of the year) in the library itself. Each room houses a different collection of women’s literature and art: e.g. the Poetry Room, the Writing Room, the Art hallway, and the Woolf Wall which graces the living room / workshop area. These collections are curated and organized by a dedicated volunteer, keeping the library’s offerings up-to-date and somewhat organized.

Books, tea, snacks and workshops

At The Sitting Room, there are books to borrow and books to read while sitting in an overstuffed armchair. Tea and snacks are freely available. Students and professors from nearby Sonoma State University use the library’s resources for research and discovery, community members pop by to read and think, and local writers hold workshops and readings.

J. J. Wilson calls The Sitting Room “an enactment of Woolf’s vision, but not an altar to her.” More than a room of one’s own, The Sitting Room is a library for everyone inspired by the values of feminism, conversation, and friendship. Its guiding spirits include not just Woolf, but also Tillie Olsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, and Meridel Le Sueur. The Woolf-inspired art of Suzanne Bellamy and other feminist artists creates a rich visual tapestry for the library.

Access the online catalog and more

To access books from this utopian, grassroots, feminist, long-lived, and beloved library, visit the library’s online catalog.

And look for more on J. J. Wilson, The Sitting Room, and the history of the International Virginia Woolf Society in an upcoming issue of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany with the theme “Collecting Woolf.” Meanwhile, see the call for papers below.

Call for papers
Collecting Virginia Woolf: A Special Themed Issue of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany

Who collects Virginia Woolf and Hogarth Press books? When did the demand for and economic value of Woolf’s and the Hogarth Press’s books begin in the antiquarian book trade? Are Woolf and Hogarth Press books more or less desirable than other modernist first editions? What are the emotional, haptic, and educational values of early Woolf and Hogarth Press editions for scholars, students, and common readers? What do the book collections of Virginia and Leonard Woolf tell us about their lives as readers and writers?

In addition to more formal academic essays, this upcoming issue of the Miscellany (in collaboration with Blogging Woolf ) will also feature a special section called “Our Bookshelves, Ourselves.” Our book collections tell stories about our reading lives and also about our lives in the larger community of Woolf’s readers and scholars. In fact, a history of our bookshelves might begin to tell a history of the International Virginia Woolf Society itself. If you are a “common book collector,” and your books tell a story about your immersion in Woolf or Hogarth Press studies, tell us about it. If you have interesting strategies or stories about acquiring collectible editions of Woolf and Hogarth Press books on a budget, let us know!

Send submissions of 2,500 words for longer essays and 500 words for “Our Bookshelves” by Sept. 30, 2018, to Catherine Hollis via hollisc@berkeley.edu

[1] June Farver, “2% Milk is the New Half and Half,” The Sitting Room Past, Present and Future (2012)

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