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Archive for the ‘Virginia Woolf’ Category

I’m not a literary snob—well, maybe a bit—but I’ve never had any interest in John Grisham’s blockbuster novels. I’d heard they’re page-turners, well written even though formulaic, good distractions if that’s what you’re after.

Then a friend told me that his new novel, Camino Island, wasn’t his typical corporate/legal skullduggery, that it was summer fun—a beach read—about the theft of Scott Fitzgerald’s manuscripts from the Princeton Library. The story focuses on a novelist and a bookseller in a Florida island community. Sounded promising, and the deal-maker was a Virginia Woolf reference.

Grant, a bookstore owner and collector of rare books, is showing some of his favorite acquisitions to Mercer, whom he’s trying to seduce and who is a plant, hired by Princeton’s insurer to spy on Grant for any possible connection to the stolen manuscripts. He extracts his most valuable book from safekeeping, a signed first edition of Catcher in the Rye (prized because Salinger seldom signed his books). Mercer mentions that she taught it once but that it’s not a favorite. She prefers female writers. He then brings out the rarest book he has by a woman, A Room of One’s Own.

 Mercer: “I love this book. I read it in high school and it inspired me to become a writer, or at least give it a shot.” She recites the key line: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” They discuss Woolf—“so brave,” “a tortured soul”—and writers’ sufferings and destructive behaviors.

Mercer has been struggling to write a second novel, several years after the success of her first. Now, with free time and the windfall she’s getting from the insurance company, the narrator observes: “With a room of her own and some money in her pocket, perhaps she could settle in and write some fiction.”

The beginning grabbed me—the heist—but it was disappointing after that, with a bit of punch at the end. I tried to enjoy it, but I found Mercer a not very interesting and not very convincing protagonist. It was a quick read, and I did stick with it until the end to find out what happened to the manuscripts. But, like Mercer, I prefer to read women authors.

Still, there was Woolf—existing in the lofty presence of Fitzgerald and Salinger, Hemingway and Faulkner, holding her own with all that testosterone.

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Amongst a box filled with stretched canvas and paintings on wood, we re-discovered these fantastic landscapes of the local area. Both painted by Vanessa Bell, the first is of the old Coach Road looking towards Firle Tower on the right. The leaves on the trees appear to be blowing in the wind, the farmland and coach road painted lightly in pinks and purples to represent the human touch on the landscape…

Source: Local Landscapes of Firle | The Charleston Attic

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Woolfians who can travel to Cornwall in September may be interested in these two events with Sarah Latham Phillips, author of Virginia Woolf as a ‘Cubist’ Writer, available from Cecil Woolf Publishers.

Cornwall

St. Ives September Festival, Virginia Woolf & Vanessa Bell

When: Friday 15 September 2017, 10:30 a.m.
Where: Porthmeor Studio, Back Road West, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1NG

What: Two artistic sisters: Virginia Woolf & Vanessa Bell, who spent part of their childhood in St Ives. Sarah will discuss its influence on their art and writing and their own relationship and ambitions.

Cost: Tickets £5.50
Reservations: at http://www.crbo.co.uk/events.php?evGrp=195

Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse

Godrevy Lighthouse, St. Ives, Cornwall

When: Monday 18 September 2017, 10:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Where: Red Store, Riverside, Lerryn, Nr Lostwithiel, Cornwall,
PL22 OPZ

What: Study day on To the Lighthouse
Cost: Tickets are £25 for the day and include coffee, tea and biscuits. Bring your
own lunch.
Reservations: Please contact Sarah at phillipsfamily1234@yahoo.co.uk for further details.

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It’s National Dog Day. And of course there are ties-in to Virginia Woolf.

Number one: She had dogs. Number two: She wrote a book about a dog — Flush (1933), told from the perspective of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel.

As children, Virginia and the other Stephen siblings had a gray shaggy terrier named Shag, which was sent by train to Talland House, their summer home in St. Ives, Cornwall to help catch rats.

A new puppy, Jerry, was later added to the family mix. Still later, a sheep-dog pup without a tail named Gurth, after a character in Ivanhoe. Woolf grew attached to Gurth, even though he was her sister Vanessa’s dog, and remained attached to him, even after she and her siblings moved to 46 Gordon Square.

After Vanessa married Clive Bell and moved nearby, Virginia and brother Adiran felt the need to have their own dog. So they visited Battersea Lost Dogs Home and adopted a Boxer named Hans, who Virginia taught to put out matches after she used them to light her cigarettes, a trick she taught all her dogs after Hans.

At the onset of World War I and after Virginia married Leonard Woolf (1912), the couple offered to keep a friend’s Clumber Spaniel named Tinker when he left to serve in the war. Tinker, though, escaped from their garden and was lost. He was not found, despite the Woolfs’ fervent efforts to locate.

In 1919, they added a mixed breed terrier named Grizzle to their home in Rodmell, Monk’s House, and the canine accompanied Virginia on her walks over the Sussex downs.

Perhaps the most famous of Virginia Woolf’s dogs is Pinka, the purebred black Cocker Spaniel from a litter born to Pippin, Vita Sackville-West’s Cocker Spaniel. Pinka was a gift to the Woolfs from Vita.

For an entire chapter on the Woolfs and their dogs, take a look at Shaggy Muses by Maureen Adams.

You’ll call this sentimental—perhaps—but then a dog somehow represents the private side of life, the play side. – Virginia Woolf

img_3483

Vanessa Bell, Horatio Brown, Julia Duckworth Stephen, Thoby Stephen, Virginia Woolf, George Duckworth, Adrian Stephen, Gerald Duckworth and the family dog Shag in 1892.

Pinka

Virginia Woolf and Pinka

Flush

The cover of Virginia Woolf’s 1933 novel “Flush: A Biography,” which included original drawings by Vanessa Bell.

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Collecting books was the topic of the “Book Collectors and the Book Trade” panel at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf Conference in Reading, England, in June. So it’s no wonder my mind clicked into gear when I received an email full of Woolf treats from fellow Woolf hunter, book collector, and seller Jon S. Richardson.

June conference panelists included Leslie Arthur of the William Reese Company in Connecticut on “Bibliographers, Booksellers, and Collectors of the Hogarth Press,” Catherine Hollis of U.C. Berkeley on “The Common Reader and the Book Collector,” and Stephen Barkway of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain on “Hogarth Press Books,” the story of his personal collection.

Attached to Richardson’s email was the September 2017 list of volumes he has for sale, which include some by or about Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, other Bloomsbury writers, and the extended Stephen clan.

What’s on the list

There are 70 items offered on the current list. Here are just a few:

  • Woolf, Virginia. MRS. DALLOWAY, New York, Harcourt, [1931], 296 pp., 6th impression of the first American edition in deep orange cloth with spine label, VG+ with a pristine spine label, Kirkpatrick A9b, this copy with the exceedingly rare Bell jacket in yellow/black/ cream design, being the 1931 issue of the jacket (with a blurb on To The Lighthouse on rear inner flap), jacket is VG+ with trivial loss to spine ends and two tiny areas of abrasion on spine, price of $2.50 on flap, but no sunning, front inner flap has blurb on Mrs. Dalloway with N.Y. Times review quotation, prior owners’ signatures on flysheet, a most handsome copy of this Bell artwork which is identical to the first edition. $785
  • Quentin Bell & Virginia Nicholson. CHARLESTON-A BLOOMSBURY HOUSE AND GARDEN, New York, Holt, 1997, first American edition, oblong quarto, fine with near fine dust jacket,152 pp., profusely illustrated in color, a room-by-room excursion through this home so central to Bloomsbury outside London. $55
  • Sackville-West, V. CHALLENGE, New York, George H. Doran, [1923], the third impression in RED CLOTH, lettered in black on spine and on upper board, see notes to Cross A9b, VG, 297 pp., dedicated to Violet Trefusis in the Romany dialect they shared, a scarce appearance of this book suppressed in England by Lady Sackville who feared the disclosure of VS-W’s relationship with Violet Trefusis, number of copies unknown. $95
  • [Bell, Grant, Woolf & Bloomsbury] A complete run of THE CHARLESTON NEWSLETTER, Issues Nos. 1-24 (1982-89) + index (all published); published by the Charleston Trust, Richmond, Surrey, edited by Hugh Lee, wrappers, VG, s contained in two volume custom green bindings supplied by Charleston at the time – these bindings are unusual in using a string technique which allows removal but also allows volumes to open nearly flat for ease of copying; an amazing work of scholarship starting with the formation of the Trust to save Charleston, many contributions by Quentin Bell and other Bloomsbury people then alive, many issues have color plates of Bloomsbury art by Bell & Grant especially Charleston and other rooms decorated by them; great sequence of articles on Bloomsbury bookplates with copies, the breadth of the topics is vast, ultimately succeeded by The Charleston Magazine in 1990; scarce in the complete set and an essential Bloomsbury reference source as much of this material (from original Bloomsbury members then still alive) exists only here. $485

Background on the Woolf hunters

According to “Woolf Hunters,” a 2010 article in the Harvard Magazine, Richardson founders Jon and harbor books screenshotMargaret Richardson have made hunting down the works of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group their mission since opening York Harbor Books in Maine more than 20 years ago.

To receive your own list, contact Jon S. Richardson Rare Books at yorkharborbooks@aol.com.

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Literary Hub is a clearing house for all things literary—book reviews and reading lists, highlights from all over the web on pop culture and politics from a literary perspective, in addition to their own featured stories, essays, and craft pieces. They put out a daily or weekly LitHub bulletin with an overview and links to the latest content.

A recent feature was an essay by one of LitHub’s staff writers, Gabrielle Bellot: “How Much of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is in the Writing of Virginia Woolf?” It starts with Woolf’s 1934 diary entry that one “can’t unriddle the universe at tea,” and goes on to explore Woolf’s attempts to unriddle aspects of the universe in her reading and writing.

Woolf appears frequently in LitHub—no surprise to Woolfians that her work is an endless and timeless resource—so I went back to see what’s come across my screen this past month:

August 3 – “Rereading Mrs. Dalloway at the Same Age as Mrs. Dalloway”

July 31 – The Most Anthologized Essays in the Past 25 Years – Woolf ranked third (after Joan Didion and Annie Dillard)

July 21 – “9 Classic Country Songs and the Books They Pair With” – “Whoever’s in New England” by Reba McIntire with Mrs. Dalloway

July 14 – “A night with VirginiaWoolf suite at America’s strangest literary hotel”

July 10 – “8 Famous Writers Writing About Not Writing”

and lots more at this excellent resource.

 

 

 

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This post is reblogged from The Charleston Attic.

We visited the Courtauld Gallery’s display of items from the Omega Workshops. The Workshops operated in London between 1913 and 1919 under the directorship of Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Gra…

Source: From Patterned to Plain: A Visit to the Courtauld Gallery Exhibition on Omega Workshops | The Charleston Attic

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