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Posts Tagged ‘Laura Stephen’

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A new two-part documentary series, Secrets from the Asylum, investigates how mental health was treated in Victorian Britain.

This show highlights the practices of “Lunatic Asylums” as they were called and connects British celebrities to their ancestors who were treated in these asylums.

In episode one, English comedian Al Murray encounters the history of his great-great-great grandfather, novelist William Thackeray, who tried to help his wife, Isabella, with her post-partum depression by having her admitted to an asylum at the age of 23.

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Woolf’s half-sister Laura Stephen

In episode two we learn about the history of Thackeray’s granddaughter, Virginia Woolf’s half-sister, Laura Stephen, who suffered from a learning disability and didn’t “fit in.”

An article by the producers of the show, Scottish Television, states:

Laura “was branded an imbecile and a potential embarrassment to her intellectual father, writer Leslie Stephen, and at the age of 22 was admitted to the Royal Earlswood Asylum.”

In the article Murray said: “What’s shocking about this is that Laura Stephen’s father Leslie was a member of the chattering classes. He couldn’t have been a more intelligent, plugged in, literary, engaged man with modern ideas.

The modern idea in the late 1800s was society was not to be undermined by people who were ‘feeble-minded’, so these people, for their own good and the good of society, were removed. It was the Victorian worry about the purity of the gene pool.”

You can watch the full episodes: Episode 1 & Episode 2

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A few recent Woolf sightings:

  • A history project in San Francisco’s gay district that honors Virginia Woolf. The last bronze plaque of the 20 in the Rainbow Honor Walk will memorialize Woolf as a deceased person in the LGBT community who left a lasting legacy. Author Armistead Maupin will dedicate her plaque, which will be located near the Twin Peaks bar at the corner of Castro and 17th streets.
  • An open letter to Woolf: To the Late Virginia Woolf by Erin Lin published Aug. 29, 2014. Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 11.56.58 AM
  • Book recommendations from a Berkeley-based bookstore with a Woolf-related name, Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts. The shop offers Mrs. Dalloway’s Better Than a Book Club Selections and the Welcome to Clarissa’s Bookshelf young adult blog.
  • Dr. Claire Nicholson’s exploration of  Woolf’s often ambivalent relationship with clothes and fashion as part of the National Portrait gallery’s exhibit on Virginia Woolf. The Luncthtime Lecture, Virginia Woolf: A Woman of Fashion?, is free and will be held Sept. 4 at 1:15 p.m. at the NPG.
  • Insurrections of the Mind, coming Sept. 16 from Harper Perennial, collects 70 essays from the influential The New Republic magazine that includes one from Woolf.
  • A review of the documentary Secrets from the Asylum that mentions Laura Stephen, Woolf’s half-sister.
  • Orlando was sold out in Akron, Ohio.
  • Woolf broke a grammar rule regarding accusative predicates.
  • This list of “Six Best Books” includes Maggie Gee’s Virginia Woolf in Manhattan.
  • What do we see when we read? A take on Lily Briscoe’s painting in To the Lighthouse — and how we see Woolf’s words and Lily’s painting.

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