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Botanic Garden gates

Today at the Literature Cambridge course on Virginia Woolf’s Gardens, we went To the Lighthouse.

Not literally. But that was the focus of both the lecture by Trudi Tate and our small group tutorials this morning, before we veered off across the land to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. There, garden historian Caroline Holmes led us on an afternoon tour of plants from all over the world.

We didn’t make it through the entire 40 acres of the garden that opened in 1846. Nevertheless, we saw, felt, and sniffed a wide variety of the more than 8,000 species growing there.

Discussing the garden in To the Lighthouse

Predictably enough, our morning discussions about To the Lighthouse focused on Woolf’s use of the garden in her 1927 novel. In her lecture, Tate touched on ways the garden connects to mother and memory, as well as the Victorian past.

Later this morning, in our four-person tutorial group led by Karina Jakubowicz, two things stand out to me from our discussion. One was the way the urns full of red trailing geraniums fail to attract Mr. Ramsay’s full attention but cause him to go off on intellectual tangents. The other was the meaning of Mrs. Ramsay’s green cashmere shawl in the “Time Passes” section. We all thought there was more to explore there.

Walking the gardens

Now for photos from the day, starting at Wolfson College, home of this year’s Literature Cambridge course, and ending with a walk through the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

The Wolfson College garden where two of the four tutorial groups at this year’s Literature Cambridge class discussed Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” this morning.

Entrance to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden on Trumpington Street

The knowledgeable Caroline Holmes provided the history of the trees and other plants at the Botanic Garden during our tour, adding a touch of humor throughout.

The iconic fountain designed by David Mellor, a focal point at the eastern end of the Botanic Garden’s Main Walk

Path through the Winter Garden

Floral close-up

One of the many trees on the Main Walk of the Botanic Garden

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This afternoon, as part of our Literature Cambridge course on Virginia Woolf’s Gardens, we visited Newnham College in search of Virginia Woolf. We found her in several places.

Garden walk

Lottie Collis leads us on a garden tour.

First, we found her in the gardens, as we were led on a walking tour of the college’s four gardens by Lottie Collis, head of the garden team. We went from the original mid-Victorian garden with winding paths to the Arts and Crafts garden focused on form and function, to the sunken rose garden. All were in place in 1928 when Woolf visited.

Each garden was peaceful and beautiful in its own way, providing sensual stimulation to the eye as well as the nose, particularly when among the roses. In that outdoor space, the air smelled like heaven.

Site of the talk

But the most exciting part of the tour for me was our visit to Newnham’s dining hall, the site where Virginia Woolf gave her October 1928 talk on women and fiction. That talk, along with one given at Girton College, became A Room of One’s Own (1929), a landmark text for feminists worldwide.

The size, grandeur, and light-filled beauty of the room took my breath away. It was a room fitting for someone of Woolf’s current stature and the women who came before her. It was completely unlike the small, dim setting I had imagined for Woolf’s famous talk about the poorly treated women students she described.

Reactions to Woolf’s Newnham College talk

Woolf came to Newnham at the invitation of the Newnham Arts Society. Her audience that day is estimated at roughly around 40, but since no records were kept of the luncheon menu or the participants, it is difficult to be certain of the number or of the food served at the lunch.

Reactions to her talk about women and fiction were mixed. The first, published in the student magazine Thersites during the Michaelman Term of 1928, was positive. The next one, published years later in A Newnham Anthology of 1970, was not.

The woman who led our tour of the dining hall shared them both with our class and with Blogging Woolf. And we share them below, along with photos from our garden tour and our visit to the dining hall.

Exhibit of Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group

The Newnham College Library has a special exhibit of Hogarth Press books by Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group on the second floor of the new wing of the library. We viewed the exhibit. But sadly, photographs were not permitted. All of the materials are housed in the library’s special collections.

1928 commentary on Woolf’s talk.

Commentary on Woolf’s talk published in the Newnham Anthologies of 1970.

Mid-Victorian style garden outside Newnham’s Old Hall.

Students in the Literature Cambridge class, Virginia Woolf’s Gardens, walk the path on a tour of Newnham College gardens.

Just one view of one of the Newnham Hall gardens.

Students in the Literature Cambridge Virginia Woolf’s Gardens course In the Sunken Rose Garden at Newnham College.

Closeup of a yellow rose in bud in the Sunken Rose Garden at Newnham College

A perennial bed at Newnham College

The Newnham College dining hall where Virginia Woolf gave her famous talk on women and fiction in 1928.

Another view of the Newnham College dining hall where Woolf spoke in 1928.

A view of the elaborate, light-filled dining hall ceiling at Newnham College.

Alcove in the Newnham College dining hall.

View of the gardens from along the corridor leading to the Newnham College dining hall where Woolf gave her famous 1928 talk.

 

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Virginia Woolf’s writing Lodge at Monk’s House

Blogging Woolf is on the way to Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge for the Literature Cambridge course Virginia Woolf’s Gardens.

I will be there July 14-19 and will post about my experiences, as we learn about the importance of gardens to Woolf’s life and work, from her early story “Kew Gardens” (1917) to her last novel, Between the Acts (1941).

Other course readings include Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928) and A Room of One’s Own (1929).

Daily schedule

Each day of the fully booked course starts with a lecture presented by a leading scholar. A seminar or a Cambridge-style one-hour supervision (tutorial) for small groups of students will discuss the topic of the day, looking closely at that day’s text. Each will be taught by lecturers and post-docs from the University of Cambridge.

Lecturers include Suzanne Raitt, Gillian Beer, Alison Hennegan, Clare Walker Gore, Karina Jakubowicz, Oliver Goldstein, Trudi Tate, Kabe Wilson and Caroline Holmes.

Manuscript, excursions, and more

We will also get to view the manuscript of A Room of One’s Own held in Cambridge.

When the course ends, many of us will head out on two excursions — to Monk’s House and Charleston. I visited both sites in 2004 but am eager to go again.

We’ll also have time to explore Cambridge on our own, go punting, discuss literature with other students, and reflect on Woolf, gardens, and more.

 

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I made the leap. I signed up to attend the Literature Cambridge course Virginia Woolf’s Gardens this summer at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge.

Along with others, I will be there July 14-19 learning about the importance of gardens to Woolf’s life and work, from her early story “Kew Gardens” (1917) to her last novel, Between the Acts (1941).

Other course readings include Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928) and A Room of One’s Own (1929).

Daily schedule

Each day starts with a lecture presented by a leading scholar. A seminar or a Cambridge-style one-hour supervision (tutorial) for students in groups of three or four follows, taught by lecturers and post-docs from the University of Cambridge to discuss the topic of the day, looking closely at that day’s text.

Lecturers include Suzanne Raitt, Gillian Beer, Alison Hennegan, Clare Walker Gore, Karina Jakubowicz, Oliver Goldstein, Trudi Tate, Kabe Wilson and Caroline Holmes.

Manuscript, excursions, and more

We will also get to view the manuscript of A Room of One’s Own held in Cambridge.

When the course ends, I’ll head out on two excursions — to Monk’s House and Charleston. I visited both sites in 2004 but am eager to go again.

Virginia Woolf’s writing Lodge at Monk’s House

We’ll also have time to explore Cambridge on our own, go punting, discuss literature with other students, and reflect, the website tells us.

Listen to Caroline Zoob’s podcast

Hear Caroline Zoob, author of Virginia Woolf’s Garden, interviewed by Literature Cambridge lecturer Karina Jukubowicz.

Spots available

There is still space available in the course. You can get more information and book online.

‘Everything tended to set itself in a garden where there was none of this gloom.’
– To the Lighthouse.

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  • St. Martins in the Field, Trafalgar Square.
    Monday, 17th Sept. 2018. 1 p.m. – Free Lunchtime concert.
    One of the five works to be sung by mezzo-soprano Marta Simmonds, accompanied by Lana Bode (piano), is Dominic Argento’s “The Diary of Virginia Woolf”. Read more.
  • St Ives September Festival 2018
    PORTHMEOR STUDIOS, Back Road West, Borlase Smart Room
    Thursday 20 September at 3.30 – 4.30 p.m.
    Sarah Latham Phillips MA
    Introducing the Bloomsbury Group; at the heart of which were the two sisters, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. Avant-garde, controversial and influential: the Bloomsbury Group. Painters, art critics, writers and economists: Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey, Leonard Woolf, E. M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Adrian Stephen and David Garnett.
    Tickets £5.50 Read more.
  • Celebration of “Orlando: A Biography” at Charleston, September–December (mainly 11–14 October) 2018
    Read more.

     

  • Bookings have just opened for Literature Cambridge’s 2019 summer courses:

    Virginia Woolf’s Gardens, 14-19 July 2019.

    Fictions of Home: Jane Austen to the Present, 21-26 July 2019.

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Literature Cambridge will offer two interesting summer courses next year.

Virginia Woolf’s writing Lodge at Monk’s House

Virginia Woolf’s Gardens will be held July 14-19. The course will emphasize the importance of gardens to Woolf’s life and work, from her early story “Kew Gardens” (1917) to her last novel, Between the Acts (1941).

Other course readings include Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928) and A Room of One’s Own (1929).

Lecturers include Suzanne Raitt, Gillian Beer, Alison Hennegan, Clare Walker Gore, Karina Jakubowicz, Nadine Tschacksch, Trudi Tate, Kabe Wilson and Caroline Holmes.

An optional visit to Monk’s House and Charleston will be offered.

Fictions of Home: Jane Austen to the Present Day will be held July 21-26 at Wolfson College, Cambridge. The course explores ideas of home in literature, from the early nineteenth century until today, from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, through Dickens, Katherine Mansfield, and Virginia Woolf, ending with contemporary refugee writers.

The provisional course reading list includes Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813); Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (written 1798; published 1817); Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850);
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925); Katherine Mansfield, Collected Short Stories (mainly 1920s);
Viet Nguyen, The Refugees (2017); Viet Nguyen, The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (2018); David Herd and Anna Pincus, eds., Refugee Tales II (2017).

Instructors include Alison Hennegan, Isobel Maddison, Clare Walker Gore, and Trudi Tate.

Bookings open soon.

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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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