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Posts Tagged ‘Emma Woolf’

So far, here are the #DallowayDay events for this year:

  • On June 12th ‘a Wednesday in mid June’ Persephone Books, 59 Lamb’s Conduit St., London, will hold its annual Mrs. Dalloway Walk. It begins at 11 a.m. in Westminster. Lunch will be at the shop afterwards.
  • Join Waterstones and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain for the third annual celebration of Dalloway Day on Saturday, June 15, this year with the theme of “Queering.” Read more.
  • Italian Virginia Woolf Society Dalloway Day at Biblioteca Salaborsa, Bologna on June 15. Read more.
  • Royal Society of Literature events on Wednesday, June 19, include:
    • Walking with Mrs. Dalloway, 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the National Portrait Gallery
    • For There She Was: Love and Presence in Mrs Dalloway, 4 – 5 p.m., British Library Piazza Pavilion with renowned Woolf scholar Professor Dame Gillian Beer
    • RSL Members’ Book Group: A Room of My Own, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., British Library Knowledge Centre
    • After Woolf,  7– 8:30 p.m., British Library Knowledge Centre. Monica Ali, Olivia Laing and Elif Shafak discuss Woolf’s influence and the challenges of interpolating one of the 20th Century’s most significant writers in works inflected by their own lives.
Cecil at Persephone

Cecil Woolf pauses in front of Persephone Books, Lamb’s Conduit Street, London.

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England’s Lane
Emma Woolf
Three Hares Publishing

A review by Maggie Humm

Emma Woolf’s debut novel England’s Lane is a love story with a difference. Starting with a bang – an ingenious twist of the Hollywood cliche of a half-dressed male lover exiting a torrid sex scene when his lover’s husband returns unexpectedly- here the heroine Lily is the departing lover. Immediately sympathetic as she reports to sister Cassie ‘I’m standing on the platform at Gerrard’s Cross wearing a man’s shirt tucked into skinny jeans,’ Lily’s hands closed around a packet of cigarettes in Harry’s shirt pocket. ‘Hallelujah’.

The set up will please writers and publishers. Lily, 24, works with Harry, 47, Strategic Director of Higher Education Press and ‘that first kiss was deadly serious at the Frankfurt Book Fair’. The progress of their increasingly tense love affair flows in and out of multiple perspectives: Pippa, Harry’s wife’s blog, Harry at his psychiatrist, and Lily, and constitutes the first half of the novel.

Woolf handles multiple characters with insouciance – Lily’s siblings Cassie, Olivia, James and their mother Celia, and Harry’s family.

As Harry’s guilt grows so does his drinking, jealous stalking of Lily, and eventual breakdown. To say more would give away the plot’s key moment. Woolf pulls off a writer’s toughest trick – switching mid-stream from one expected narrative – adultery- to another – Lily’s life as a single mother in England’s Lane, Belsize Park, north London. Contacting her long departed father David, Lily’s life begins afresh with his second wife’s family, particularly with Julian.

Beautifully constructed, England’s Lane rushes us through to an unexpected happy ending (for everyone except Harry).

How could we not like Lily – intelligent, thoughtful, beautifully slim, with her JBrand skinny jeans, casual cashmere sweaters and Hunter’s wellies? In my only attempt to wear JBrand jeans my knees wouldn’t bend, but fiction identifications can happen between unlikely readers and central characters. Product placements proliferate: Fortnum’s hampers, crocodile Smythson notebooks, St. Lucie’s monogrammed bath robes, but love stories need obligatory reader pleasures.

The novel is at its strongest when Lily begins to parallel Harry’s wife Pippa’s fears of being an older mother.

Emma Woolf is Leonard Woolf’s great-niece but I found traces of Virginia Woolf in Emma’s evocative scenes. Virginia Woolf is one of the twentieth century’s pre-eminent visual writers and England’s Lane carries some of Virginia’s illustrative quality. It would be an ideal Sunday evening TV serial. I simply could not put it down.

Maggie Humm is the author of Talland House and the editor of The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and the Arts.

Emma Woolf with her father Cecil Woolf

 

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First, there was the conference. Then came the party. In London. With the Woolfs.

On the Monday evening following days one, two, three, and four of the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson hosted a party in London for their visiting Woolfian friends who remained in town.

I was happy to be among them. But I was chagrined to arrive on their doorstep 20 minutes early due to lightning fast service by my Uber driver.

Cecil and Jean, however, didn’t blink when they answered my too-early knock. They ushered me in and escorted me up the stairs, past stacks of books from their Bloomsbury Heritage Series and a smattering of hats from Jean’s famous collection.

Cecil poured me a glass of wine and settled me in their persimmon-colored sitting room that is casually decorated with original Bloomsbury art by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It was magical.

Cecil and Jean are tremendous hosts who know how to make each guest feel specially welcome, no matter when they arrive. They created a wonderful evening full of camaraderie, good food, and drink, while introducing us to their daughter Emma Woolf, author of numerous books and a regular BBC contributor.

Afterward, when thinking about the evening, a quote came to mind that perfectly captures the mood and magic of the evening.

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (1929)

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson hosted a post-conference party at their London home, which also houses Cecil Woolf Publishers.

This side table decorated by Duncan Grant held appetizers, as well as my little Virginia. #travelswithvirginiawoolf

Cecil Woolf and daughter Emma Woolf at the party.

Louise Higham, Suzanne Bellamy, John McCoy, and Eleanor McNees (far right) were among the party guests.

A firescreen painted by Duncan Grant.

Bloomsbury art above the fireplace, along with a piece by Suzanne Bellamy and a photo of Jean.

Judith Allen and her husband Steve.

More Bloomsbury art.

 

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A website and a Facebook page, dubbed the Isaac Rosenberg Statue Appeal, have been set up to help raise funds to erect a statue in honor of the noted World War I poet and artist.

Organizers Emma Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of Isaac Rosenberg: The Making of a Great War Poet: A New Life, say Rosenberg has not received the widespread recognition he deserves as one of the greatest of the First World War poets.

Writers of his generation would agree. T. S. Eliot called him the “most remarkable” of the World War I poets. Siegfried Sassoon called him “a genius.”

The statue will be erected at Torrington Square on the Birkbeck College campus in Bloomsbury by April 1, 2018, the centenary of his death.

Organizers will launch a crowdfunding site to help raise funds for the statue, which is expected to cost £92,000. Donation can also be made by post, with checks made payable to Jeecs-Rosenberg Statue appeal, c/o Clive Bettington, P.O. Box 57317, London E1 3WG.

Rosenberg

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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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