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Posts Tagged ‘Jean Moorcroft Wilson’

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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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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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Earlier this week, Blogging Woolf shared Elaine Showalter’s recommendation that June 13 is Dalloway Day, the day in June when Clarissa walked out to the buy the flowers herself in preparation for her party.

Read more about Mrs. Dalloway’s party paper dolls.

June 20 as Dalloway Day

Now an alternate date — and justification for it — has been shared as a comment on our original post and via the VWoolf Listserv. It comes from Murray Beja.

I might as well cite here some of my evidence for the date of June 20, which seems to me pretty clear cut. As I express it in my edition of Mrs. Dalloway, we explicitly learn that the day of the novel is a Wednesday, and that it is 1923; ?moreover, Clarissa wonders if the ?crush? of traffic is due to Ascot . . . which in 1923 ran from Tuesday, 19 June, to Friday, 22 June . . . . Gold Cup Day, on which the most coveted trophy is contested, falls on the Thursday. The results of cricket matches noted by both Septimus and Peter are those they would have seen in a newspaper for 20 June 1923 . . . .? (I go on to cite the London Times.) See Morris Beja, ed., Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (Shakespeare Head Press Edition of Virginia Woolf). Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1996.

Dalloway Day celebration is June 17 in London

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, in collaboration with Waterstones, (oh, why not Hatchard’s?) is holding a Dallowday celebration on Saturday, June 17.

 Virginia Woolf Life and London: Bloomsbury and Beyond by Jean Moorcroft Wilson

The event starts at 2:30 p.m. with a guided walk led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of Virginia Woolf’s Life and London: A Guide to Bloomsbury and Beyond. The walk will visit sites relevant to Clarissa Dalloway and Virginia Woolf. It will be followed by a 4 p.m. discussion of Mrs. Dalloway (1925), led by Maggie Humm.

An early evening party with a 1920s theme will top off the day, beginning at 6 p.m. Organizers are hoping that partygoers will turn up in appropriate party wear.

The walk and talk are sold out but party tickets are still available at a cost of £10.

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Happy birthday to Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia Woolf and the dearest of friends, who is 90 today — and still runs Cecil Woolf Publishers, a small London publishing house in the tradition of the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press.

Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, London, where Virginia lived from 1905-1907

Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, London, where Virginia lived from 1905-1907.

As the oldest living relative of Virginia and Leonard, Cecil attends annual Woolf conferences as often as he can, where he displays his most recent volumes in the Bloomsbury Heritage series. He is often featured as a speaker at those events. And the reminiscences about his famous aunt and uncle and the time he spent with them are treasured by conference-goers.

At the last Woolf conference, Cecil gave me a personal tour of Bloomsbury. At the Woolf conference in New York City in 2009, he was interviewed by The Rumpus.

Cecil is also often called upon to assist at ceremonies honoring his Uncle Leonard. In 2014, he planted a Gingko biloba tree in Tavistock Square garden to commemorate the centennial of the arrival of his uncle Leonard in Colombo, Ceylon. In 2014, he spoke at the unveiling of a Blue Plaque commemorating his uncle’s 1912 marriage proposal to Virginia at Frome Station.

I only wish I could be in London to celebrate this milestone birthday with Cecil and his wife, Jean Moorcroft Wilson, and the rest of their family. Cecil tells me the official family celebration will take place  Saturday, Feb. 25.

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

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

Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf with their display of Bloomsbury Heritage monographs at the 2016 Woolf conference

Scholar and author Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Cecil Woolf with their display of Bloomsbury Heritage monographs at the 2016 Woolf conference.

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