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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

One of Blogging Woolf’s bookshelves

Catherine Hollis, editor of an upcoming themed issue of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany on “Collecting Woolf” has put out a call for papers. She is hoping to gather both traditional scholarly articles on collecting Virginia Woolf and Hogarth Press books, as well as shorter pieces about our own collections.

Questions that could be addressed include the following:

  • Who collects Virginia Woolf and Hogarth Press books?
  • When did the demand for and economic value of Woolfs’ 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 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 2,000 words for longer essays and 500 words for “Our Bookshelves” by Sept. 1, 2018, to Catherine Hollis via hollisc@berkeley.edu

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This Christmas day, I unwrapped a present from my landlady and, completely unexpectedly, a small purple hardback book with gold lettering and a beautiful portrait of Virginia Woolf fell onto my lap. I was delighted, and proceeded to read it cover to cover amidst wrapping paper and ended up holding back tears to prevent myself being utterly embarrassed in front of my in-laws.

virginia woolf life portraits

© Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford

Virginia Woolf (Life Portraits) by Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford poetically weaves the story of Woolf’s life with Alkayat’s considered text and Cosford’s illustrations, a fresh response to the Bloomsbury aesthetic. It opens with the following quote from Mrs Dalloway:

She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was on the outside, looking on.

This liminality, both the relation between work and life and Woolf’s psychological flux, is represented thoughtfully throughout the biography.

street haunting in life portrait

© Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford

Alkayat focuses on the personal details of life: how Vanessa Bell’s sheepdog Gurth accompanied her “street haunting”, how Leonard and Virginia Woolf spent nights during the First World War in their coal cellar sitting on boxes, and that they later named their car “the umbrella”. She also puts us on a first name basis with Virginia, Vanessa and Duncan, et al. – a choice which made me feel closer to their world.

charleston in woolf life portrait

© Nina Cosford

Cosford’s illustrations are both sensitive to the Bloomsbury style and offer a fresh perspective. Her bold lines and patterns used to illustrate the pages about Vanessa Bell’s cover designs for Virginia Woolf’s novels, for example, are edged with mark-making in the mode of Bell. Her use of colour also seems emotive, following the waves of high and low that punctuate the narrative. Her illustrations capture the paraphernalia of every-day life, from the objects atop Woolf’s writing desk – diary, hair grips, photo of Julia, sweets – to the plants in the garden at Monks House, bringing Virginia’s life closer to home.

monks house plants

© Nina Cosford

Illustration and text come together beautifully in this miniature autobiography and would provide any reader with a poetic and surprising escape into the life of Virginia Woolf.

 

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This banner promoting fundraising for the Virginia Woolf statue was displayed at the banquet at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at the University of Reading.

Virginia Woolf will be seated on a bench at Richmond upon Thames, Riverside, for all to see — and sit next to — if a heritage project seeking £50,000 through crowd-funding is successful.

Arts and education charity Aurora Metro launched the project to create the first ever life-sized, full-figure bronze depiction of Woolf. The London Borough of Richmond has recently given the public the opportunity to comment on the proposal via a consultation document on its website. Deadline for commenting is Dec. 10.

Society says sculptor fails to capture Woolf

The executive council of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain has discussed the proposal and told the Borough of Richmond that, although it fully endorses the idea of a full-figure statue of Woolf in the Borough to memorialize the importance of her time there, unfortunately it feels that sculptor Laury Dizengremel has not captured Woolf’s likeness, according to an email the group sent members.  The IVWS membership agrees.

See for yourself

You can see for yourself by visiting the Aurora Metro website, where you can view three photos depicting the statue. You can make a donation at that page as well. The statue project also has a Facebook page.

If you would like to volunteer to help raise funds for the Virginia Woolf statue, contact info@aurorametro.com

Movement for more women

The Woolf statue is part of a movement to see more women memorialized as statues around Great Britain.

In March 2016 in the New Statesman, Caroline Criado-Perez surveyed the nation’s statues by gender and discovered “a mere 2.7 per cent are of historical, non-royal women. If you’re a woman, your best chance at becoming a statue is to be a mythical or allegorical figure, a famous virgin, royal or nude.”

She has also launched a campaign to get a statue of a suffragette erected in Parliament Square and has a petition asking the Mayor of London to do so.

 

 

 

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I have a large home. With lots of stuff. And though I feel obliged to regularly dispose of things — pawning them off on friends, donating them to charity shops, dropping them into the recycle bin — sometimes I just can’t resist adding a new possession. Particularly when it comes to Virginia Woolf.

I searched her name on Amazon this week and found this candle. I was tempted to buy it until I found what I considered a better one on Etsy.

Virginia Woolf Sainted Writers Secular Prayer Candle

Called the Virginia Woolf Sainted Writers Secular Prayer Candle, it comes with your choice of prayer printed on the back, a book charm fastened around the top, and an unscented soy candle that burns for up to 80 hours inside.

I immediately placed my order. It was impossible to resist our beloved Virginia dressed in a nun’s habit, holding a copy of the Penguin edition of A Room of One’s Own, and this sales pitch:

Before you write, seek passion and clarity from Saint Virginia by lighting this unscented white prayer candle.

Your choice of prayers

Currently available prayers, copied from the Etsy shop web page of Sainted Writers owner Michelle, are:

✑ prayer for essay writers
✑ prayer for readers
✑ prayer for creative writers
✑ prayer for prelims exam success
✑ prayer for dissertation writers
✑ prayer for thesis writers
✑ your choice of text (please leave a note with up to 100 words and any special instructions)

I chose the Reader’s Prayer. May it bring me illumination in these troubled times.

 

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Virginia Woolf’s entreaties in A Room of One’s Own were directed to women, urging them to write. To write all kinds of books, to write whatever they wish. She said: “When I ask you to write more books I am urging you to do what will be for your good and for the good of the world at large.”

The authors of two recent essay collections are living Woolf’s legacy. Jericho Parms and Durga Chew-Bose acknowledge the footprints that precede them, and their successful debuts are a gift to today’s readers.

I was struck repeatedly in Jericho Parms’s collection, Lost Wax, by word constructions and rhythms that brought Woolf to mind, especially in her contemplations of memory and the self. It was no surprise to read in an interview: “I first fell in love with the essay and the unending possibility of the form from reading the works of Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, James Baldwin, and Virginia Woolf.” She mentions Moments of Being as a major influence, and it’s evident in reflections about her own life.

The final essay in Lost Wax is “Immortal Wound,” in which Parms ponders a dead luna moth and relates it to human mortality, to the recognition that one can expire “in a moment unobserved, as if it never came to pass.” Woolf had witnessed her moth’s death, and Parms says, “I envied Woolf her day moth zigzagging against a windowpane.”

The title of Durga Chew-Bose’s book of essays, Too Much and Not the Mood, comes from Woolf’s diary entry of April 11, 1931. Woolf is bogged down in making corrections to a number of her articles. She’s working with a faulty pen, for starters, “And not much to say, or rather too much & not the mood.”

The prose in these essays evokes Woolf’s interiority and love of language. I underlined phrase after phrase, passage after passage, as Chew-Bose, like a moth herself, lights here and there, pausing on family and friendship, on James Baldwin and Nina Simone and the young Al Pacino, on her name and her voice and her skin color.

The opening essay, “Heart Museum,” is a 90-page abstract meditation, in which she likens writing to body language, to “a woman narrowing her eyes to express incredulity,” to “an elbow propped on the edge of a table when you’re wrapping up an argument,” to “a closed pistachio shell.” In which she describes her version of happiness as “curling up inside the bends of parentheses,” and in which the odds and ends on a friend’s dressing table represent “a parish of miscellany,” “a village of items.”

The essay is alive and well, and women’s writing in all genres is more wide-ranging and abundant than even Virginia Woolf might have imagined.

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In her essay “On Cookbooks: Collections and Recollection,” Alice Lowe travels through BloomsburyCookbook_title_26523the decades, from her first casseroles to Julia and Jacques, from Betty Crocker to Virginia Woolf.

In it, she shares her love for Woolf and her thoughts on Woolf and food.

Here’s a teaser: “My time in England launched and nurtured my interest in Virginia Woolf; my retirement has enabled my studies and published work on her life and writing. Books by and about Woolf have increased as cookbooks decline. The Bloomsbury Cookbook: Recipes for Life, Love and Art weds literature and artwork by Woolf, her sister Vanessa Bell, and others of the legendary Bloomsbury circle, with anecdotes and stories, recipes and repasts both real and fictional. I haven’t allocated it to a shelf yet—is it a Woolf book or a cookbook?”

Visit Alice’s blog to read the rest.

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A new short video about Virginia Woolf was recently published on YouTube by TED-Ed. Titled “Why should you read Virginia Woolf?”  it is narrated by Iseult Gillesipe from the University of Wisconson-Madison.

The video details Woolf’s early life and highlights several of her novels. Check it out on YouTube or view it below.

 

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