Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Jean Moorcroft Wilson’

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson at their home in London, June 2017.

The funeral of Cecil Woolf, who died June 10, will be held at Golders Green Crematorium, 62 Hoop Lane, NW11 7NL, on Monday 24 June at 3 p.m.

Golders Green Tube station is a 10-minute walk away. Parking is available both at the crematorium and after 10 a.m. on Hoop Lane.

A memorial service will also be held in late September or early October, but details have not yet been set.

His legacy

Cecil Woolf, the oldest living relative of Virginia Woolf, was renowned by the Woolf community. Some tributes to his legacy have occurred; others are planned.

They include: 

  • O outro garoto na Hogarth Press: homenagem a Cecil Woolf
  • Dedication of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain’s Dalloway Day events at Waterstones Gower Street to Cecil Woolf.
  • A special section devoted to Cecil Woolf will be included in an upcoming issue of the International Virginia Woolf Society’s Miscellany. A call for papers will be sent soon.
  • The next issue of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain’s Bulletin will be dedicated to Cecil Woolf.

Obituary notices

Cecil Woolf’s official obituary was published in The Times on June 15. Photos of the print story are available.

Cecil Woolf’s wife, Jean Moorcroft Wilson, also wrote an obituary that ran in the Camden News Journal. We reprint it below, with thanks to the family for sharing it.

Cecil James Sidney Woolf (20 February 1927-10 June 2019)

Cecil Woolf, the nephew of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, has died aged 92, the last person alive to have known Virginia personally; he was 14 when she committed suicide. But he was equally proud of Leonard, who died when Cecil was 42 and whose London house he shared for nearly a decade. He himself observed of Leonard, ‘How does one sum up a person as many-sided as that?’,  a remark equally applicable to his multi-talented nephew, who was a man of many parts. As his schooldays at Stowe revealed, Cecil had an exceptional mind, not only taking the equivalent of A-levels a year early, for example, but also gaining the top mark in the whole country in the English Literature paper. But instead of going on to a top university, as expected, he enlisted in the army at the age of sixteen. Entering as a private in the tank regiment in 1943, he was quickly promoted to the rank of captain for his undoubted ability, fighting in the tail-end of the Second World War in Italy, where he learnt to speak fluent Italian – ‘it’s so like Latin’, he would explain modestly –  and Palestine. Italy, Venice in particular, became for him the ‘great good place’.

After demobilization in 1947, Cecil joined the stockbroking firm of Woolf, Christie founded by two of his childless uncles, who wanted him to carry on the family business. Though he rapidly mastered the various branches of the trade, he left after only a few years to start his own antiquarian book business, happily forfeiting the guaranteed money and security of the Stock Exchange for the challenges and independence he anticipated as a free-lance writer and bookseller. It was typical of this fiercely independent man that, although Virginia Woolf was becoming recognized as one of  Britain’s greatest novelists by the nineteen-fifties and -sixties, he never traded on his relationship to her, and remained modest and unassuming almost to a fault. Likewise, though he had grown up in a house built by Cardinal Wolsey on James de Rothschild’s Waddesdon Estate and was directly related to James through James’s wife Dorothy, he never boasted of the fact or used it to his advantage. And he never tried for popular fame, though he was gifted enough to do so; he preferred a less obvious route. As a writer his bibliographies of Norman Douglas and Baron Corvo and his editions of Corvo’s novels, poems and letters are models of their kind.

Then in nineteen sixty, Cecil founded his own publishing house, inspired undoubtedly by the example of Leonard Woolf, whom he had helped at the Hogarth Press from an early age. His encouragement of young writers, like Leonard’s, became legendary. Drew Shannon was one of many grateful authors who treasured Cecil’s help, while at the same time becoming a good friend:

I think every Woolfian who met Cecil spent the first bit of time in his presence overcoming the fact that he KNEW VIRGINIA WOOLF. But happily this was really the least of it, at least for me, and I quickly began to love the man for himself: for his wit, his charm, his ceaseless energy, his tack-sharp mind, his kindness and consideration. And, underneath his charm, there was his biting wit. I will forever cherish the occasional whispered remark in my ear at many an event, remarks calculated to make me giggle and which required whatever poise I possess to keep myself straight-faced. And what might’ve seemed like name-dropping to the outsider was simply a catalog of his friendships and acquaintances. He’d say, “Jean, what year was it that we had Edward Heath over for dinner?” (Yes, that Edward Heath.) Or, “I bumped into Quentin Crisp in Regent’s Park, and he said…” Or, “T. S. Eliot once said to me…” And his priceless anecdote about Duncan Grant, looking long-haired and shaggy in the 1960s, wandering around Piccadilly; when questioned by Cecil about his appearance, Duncan spacily replied, “Well…my barber died.”

After Cecil’s first marriage ended in the late sixties, he began a relationship with Jean Moorcroft Wilson, who became his second wife and partner in the publishing business. Together over a period of fifty years they explored their shared and separate interests, Cecil’s obsession with the novelist John Cowper Powys inspiring the John Cowper Powys monographs, Jean’s fascination with the First World War poets, on whom (encouraged by Cecil) she would write a number of biographies, giving rise to their War Poets’ series and their joint admiration for Leonard and Virginia Woolf spawning their Bloomsbury heritage titles, always eagerly awaited at annual Virginia Woolf Conferences in America and England. Together they would edit two highly topical books,Authors Takes Sides on the Falklands and Authors Take Sides on the Gulf and Iraq. Cecil’s meticulous attention to detail ensured books of the highest quality in both content and appearance. He was running Cecil Woolf Publishers with Jean’s help until shortly before his death.

Moving to Camden Town in 1979, Cecil became a familiar figure walking along the High Street in his tweed jacket and corduroys. His burning sense of justice led him to fight long and hard for a number of causes, including the extradition of a local shopkeeper. (This prompted a letter from the Home Secretary but sadly failed to save the shopkeeper.) And he and Jean organized an exhausting but ultimately successful campaign to reopen Mornington Crescent tube station when it was threatened with closure.(At the reopening ceremony, hosted by Humphry Lyttelton, chair of ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’, Cecil was mistaken for Lyttelton, whom he slightly resembled.) Coming late to fatherhood at 47, Cecil was as closely involved in the care and upbringing of their five children, Kate, Philip, Emma, Alice and Trim , as any father could be, introducing them to wonderful books on his nightly readings to them and leaving them with a passionate love of literature and ideas. They were all   devoted to him.

Cecil was a man who chose his words very carefully and every one of them counted. And although he thrived in the world of ideas, he was enormously practical: when he and Jean eventually found the ‘little ruin’ in France they had been searching for at the extremely modest price they could afford, it was Cecil who plumbed and wired it, Jean acting as plumber’s and electrician’s mate. Anything, he believed, was possible if you could find the right book to advise you. A man of striking contradictions, he was at the some time one of the most serious yet most humorous and witty people imaginable. Though stubborn, even at time pugnacious in a cause he believed in, he was also conspicuously kind, very gentle and always polite and considerate. An essentially private, rather shy man in his younger years, he took to public speaking in later life with surprising enjoyment. He talked with increasing pleasure of his early memories of staying with Leonard and Virginia Woolf at Monk’s House, Rodmell, or at Tavistock Square, their last house in Bloomsbury, where he helped them pack books for the Hogarth Press orders in the basement.

It is not for his memories of a literary icon only that Cecil will be remembered by his family and friends, however, or even for his wonderful books, but for his originality as a person, his creativeness, his brilliance, his generosity, his kindness and his essential humanity.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf on stage at the 2016 Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Leeds Trinity University.

Read Full Post »

Editor’s Note: These DallowayDay events are dedicated to Cecil Woolf in memory of his passing.

Join Waterstones and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain for the third annual celebration of DallowayDay on Saturday, June 15, this year with the theme of “Queering.”

The day in London will start at Waterstones Gower Street. Participants will follow in the footsteps of the Bloomsbury group on their home turf, then look at how Mrs. Dalloway has been adapted for stage and ballet, while later exploring queerness in the Bloomsbury circle and beyond.

All-event tickets include the walk and are limited to 25. However, the panel events (including refreshments) can be booked separately.

Schedule for DallowayDay 2019: Queering Dalloway

2 p.m.:  Emma Woolf, an author in her own right and the daughter of Jean Moorcroft Wilson, who wrote Virginia Woolf, Life and London: A Biography of Place, will lead a Queer Bloomsbury walk. Note: Due to her father’s passing, Emma will no longer be leading the walk.

3:15 p.m.:  Tea and cake in the yard: homemade cake from a Bloomsbury recipe

Jean Moorcroft Wilson on the doorstep of 46 Gordon Square, Woolf’s first Bloomsbury home, during DallowayDay2018.

4 p.m.:  Adapting Mrs. Dalloway discussion panel with Thomas Bailey and Hal Coase, director and adapter respectively of the recent Mrs. Dalloway play at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney and Uzma Hameed, dramaturge for Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works for the Royal Ballet. Chaired by Lucy Scholes, literary critic and reviewer

5:15:  Wine & nibbles, which includes a Nino Strachey book signing

6 p.m.:  Queer Bloomsbury discussion panel with Nino Strachey, author of Rooms of Their Own: Eddy Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, and head of research at the National Trust; Stuart N. Clarke, independent scholar, editor of the Virginia Woolf Bulletin and of many of Woolf’s works, including Orlando: The Holograph Draft. Chaired by Maggie Humm, emeritus professor of Cultural Studies, University of East London, and author/editor of a number of books about Woolf and Bloomsbury.

7:30 p.m.:    DallowayDay2019 closes

8: p.m.:    Waterstones Gower Street closes

Get tickets

  • All events: walk and panels and two refreshments (maximum 25): £30/£24 VWSGB or Waterstones members
  • Adapting Mrs. Dalloway with tea and cake in the yard: £10/£8 VWSGB or Waterstones members
  • Queer Bloomsbury with wine & nibbles: £10/£8 VWSGB or Waterstones members

Book through the Waterstones website.

Read Full Post »

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

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday 9 January [1924]

At this very moment, or fifteen minutes ago to be precise, I bought the ten years lease of 52 Tavistock Sqre London W.C. 1—I like writing Tavistock. Subject of course to the lease, & to Providence, & to the unforeseen vagaries on the part of old Mrs Simons, the house is ours: & the basement, & the billard room, with the rock garden on top, & the view of the square in front & the desolated buildings behind, & Southampton Row, & the whole of London – London thou art a jewel of jewels, & jasper of jocunditie – music, talk, friendship, city views, books, publishing, something central & inexplicable, all this is now within my reach. – Virginia Woolf, Diary 2, 282-3.

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain held a one-day conference in London last Saturday that doubled as a general meeting for the organization, as well as a celebration of its 20th anniversary. It was coupled with the unveiling of a blue plaque in honor of Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

“Virginia Woolf and her Relatives” was the theme of the conference, and Marion Dell, Philip Carter and Maggie Humm presented papers.

After the conference, the group walked to Tavistock Square for the unveiling of a blue plaque on the exterior wall of the Tavistock Hotel to mark number 52, where Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived from 1924 to 1939. The house was destroyed in World War Two and later replaced with the hotel.

It was at 52 Tavistock Square that Woolf wrote many of her books, including Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own, Orlando, The Waves, The Years, and Three Guineas. Her diary entries talk about her walks around the square as she thought about the novel she was working on. And her nephew, Cecil Woolf, recalls Leonard and Virginia sitting at a table in the garden and sharing a bottle of wine.

Dame Eileen Atkins, honorary president of the VWSGB, unveiled the plaque, which was funded by the society and the Tavistock Hotel. Afterwards, society members attended a reception at which Atkins read extracts from Woolf’s diaries and letters that reflected upon her life in Tavistock Square and her love of London.

Cecil sent Blogging Woolf these photos that commemorate the day.

Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson at the plaque unveiling.

Dame Eileen Atkins and Maggie Humm outside the Tavistock Hotel at the plaque unveiling.

The blue plaque on the side of the Tavistock Hotel commemorating Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s tenure at 52 Tavistock Square.

 

Read Full Post »

The details are in for DallowayDay 2018: Woolf, Walking & Writing on Saturday 16 June at the Gower Street Waterstones, four days earlier than the official #DallowayDay of June 20.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson

‘I love walking in London,’ said Mrs. Dalloway. ‘Really it’s better than walking in the country.’

From the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain comes this news:

In one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, set in June 1923, Clarissa Dalloway loves walking as much as did her creator. So this year’s #DallowayDay takes as its theme ‘Woolf, Walking & Writing’.

Gower Street Waterstones and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain invite you to celebrate #DallowayDay with us in London’s Bloomsbury on Saturday 16 June.We start with an hour’s walk (2–3 p.m.) around Bloomsbury guided by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of Virginia Woolf’s London, to places familiar to Virginia Woolf and her friends (please note numbers for the walk are restricted to 25).

The walk ends at Waterstones Gower Street, where we’ll have a panel discussion (3.30–4.30 p.m.) on Woolf, Walking & Writing with authors and special guests.

At 5.30 p.m. we’ll have time for a celebratory glass of wine, then at 6 p.m. Maggie Humm, author of Snapshots of Bloomsbury, will talk about Woolf and photography, illustrated with photographs taken by Woolf and her Bloomsbury friends, starting with images matching up with key moments in Mrs Dalloway.

  • All-event tickets (walk, panel and talk), £24; VWSGB members & students, £18
  • Woolf, Walking & Writing panel, 3.30–4.30 p.m., £8; VWSGB & students, £6
  • Woolf & Photography, by Maggie Humm, 5.30–7.30 p.m. includes glass of wine, £8. VWSGB & students, £6

Bookings are available online http://bit.ly/2FVk5V8 or by phone 020 7636 1577. Please note that online bookings incur an additional fee.

Please note that Wednesday, June 20, has been designated the official #DallowayDay on both sides of the pond this year. Get more details on other #DallowayDay events on the Events page.

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: