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Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Woolf’

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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Clemson University Press is offering two books at a substantial discount until May 1. Download the flyer as a PDF.

An Annotated Guide to the Writings and Papers of Leonard Woolf

The revised edition of An Annotated Guide to the Writings and Papers of Leonard Woolf, by Janet M. Manson and Wayne K. Chapman (2018), 292 pp. (paperback). Normal retail: $34.95. 50% off: $17.50 plus s&h Order the book.

The Annotated Guide is a finding aid to collections of Leonard Woolf papers, which substantially augments previous research tools.

Virginia Woolf and the World of Books

Virginia Woolf and the World of Books, edited by Nicola Wilson and Claire Battershill (forthcoming, 2018), 310 pp. + (hardcover). Normal retail: $120. 70% off: $34.95 plus s&h Order the book.

Although it is not identified as such, this book contains the selected papers from the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, held last June at the University of Reading in Reading, England.

Just over 100 years ago, in 1917, Leonard and Virginia Woolf began a publishing house from their dining-room table. This volume marks the centenary of that auspicious beginning.

Inspired by the Woolfs’ radical innovations as independent publishers, the book celebrates the Hogarth Press as a key intervention in modernist and women’s writing and demonstrates its importance to independent publishing and book-selling in the long twentieth century.

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This Christmas day, I unwrapped a present from my landlady and, completely unexpectedly, a small purple hardback book with gold lettering and a beautiful portrait of Virginia Woolf fell onto my lap. I was delighted, and proceeded to read it cover to cover amidst wrapping paper and ended up holding back tears to prevent myself being utterly embarrassed in front of my in-laws.

virginia woolf life portraits

© Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford

Virginia Woolf (Life Portraits) by Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford poetically weaves the story of Woolf’s life with Alkayat’s considered text and Cosford’s illustrations, a fresh response to the Bloomsbury aesthetic. It opens with the following quote from Mrs Dalloway:

She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was on the outside, looking on.

This liminality, both the relation between work and life and Woolf’s psychological flux, is represented thoughtfully throughout the biography.

street haunting in life portrait

© Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford

Alkayat focuses on the personal details of life: how Vanessa Bell’s sheepdog Gurth accompanied her “street haunting”, how Leonard and Virginia Woolf spent nights during the First World War in their coal cellar sitting on boxes, and that they later named their car “the umbrella”. She also puts us on a first name basis with Virginia, Vanessa and Duncan, et al. – a choice which made me feel closer to their world.

charleston in woolf life portrait

© Nina Cosford

Cosford’s illustrations are both sensitive to the Bloomsbury style and offer a fresh perspective. Her bold lines and patterns used to illustrate the pages about Vanessa Bell’s cover designs for Virginia Woolf’s novels, for example, are edged with mark-making in the mode of Bell. Her use of colour also seems emotive, following the waves of high and low that punctuate the narrative. Her illustrations capture the paraphernalia of every-day life, from the objects atop Woolf’s writing desk – diary, hair grips, photo of Julia, sweets – to the plants in the garden at Monks House, bringing Virginia’s life closer to home.

monks house plants

© Nina Cosford

Illustration and text come together beautifully in this miniature autobiography and would provide any reader with a poetic and surprising escape into the life of Virginia Woolf.

 

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In a Nov. 21 letter to The Guardian, Richard Shone wrote that Jeremy Hutchinson was the last surviving person to have known Virginia Woolf. He was wrong, as Blogging Woolf noted on Facebook. And Cecil Woolf has set him straight.

In his Nov. 26 letter to that same publication Cecil, nephew of Leonard and Virginia, wrote:

Richard Shone’s opening statement in his letter (Obituaries, 21 November) that “Jeremy Hutchinson … was the last surviving person to have known Virginia Woolf”, is not quite correct. I was a schoolboy when I visited my aunt Virginia and my uncle Leonard (one of my father’s elder brothers) at both Monk’s House and at Tavistock Square, or they visited my family in Buckinghamshire.

Cecil shared his memories of Leonard and Virginia in his monograph The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press, published in June by his own London publishing house, after celebrating his 90th birthday on Feb. 20.

Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, London

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Photography was forbidden at the Hogarth Press at 100 exhibit and archives tour that was part of the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Nevertheless, Nell Toemen of the Netherlands persisted, as did Clara Farmer from Chatto Wyndham. And that means I have two photos to share.

The first, from Nell, is a photo of the Hogarth Press archives stacks at Special Collections at the University of Reading, which includes a collection of documents related to the Hogarth Press founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf in 1917. When I was on the tour, we were not permitted to take photos, but when Nell asked at a later tour, she was given the go-ahead. Afterward, she graciously shared her photo with Blogging Woolf.

Stacks showing a portion of the Hogarth Press archives at University of Reading Special Collections. Photo: Nell Toemen

The second photo is a screenshot from Clara Farmer’s Chattobooks Instagram account, which shows Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s worn travel satchels. Virginia’s has an Air France tag attached. As some have commented, it’s difficult — and interesting — to think of Virginia on an airplane.

Screenshot of Clara Farmer’s photo posted on Instagram of Leonard and Virginia’s leather travel satchels.

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The Hogarth Press is 100 years old this year, and the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf marked the centennial with a birthday party that turned out to be a family affair.

Cressida Bell, granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, designed the cake, which was loaded with chocolate chunks and fruit. Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, shared his memories of working at the Hogarth Press starting in 1931, as well as the history of the business.

The Woolfs’ printing business began with their purchase of a small hand printing press in March of 1917. The couple spotted the press in a printer shop’s window, Cecil said, and purchased it for 19£, five shillings and five pence. It came with a 16-page instruction book, type, cases, and other equipment.

Book and art treats, too

Conference participants who attended the party at the Reading, England Museum of English Rural Life were treated to more than cake and Cecil’s charming talk. They were also able to purchase specially printed keepsake editions of  Virginia’s 1924 article “The Patron and the Crocus.” Included in the slim volume is a facsimile reproduction of a reader’s report from the Hogarth Press archives at the University of Reading.

Party-goers were also able to print their own woodcut of the Roger Fry design “The London Garden.”

The publication of “Cecil Woolf: The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press, Virginia and Leonard Woolf as I Remember Them” by Cecil Woolf Publishers also marks the centennial, as does a new Hogarth Chatto & Windus version of the first book published by the Hogarth Press, the Woolfs’ Two Stories.

Cecil Woolf, accompanied by his wife Jean Moorcroft Wilson, talks about being “A Boy at the Hogarth Press” at its 100th birthday party

The Hogarth Press 100th birthday cake, designed by Cressida Bell.

Clara Farmer, publishing director of Hogarth Chatto & Windus, and Cecil Woolf slice the cake.

The Hogarth Press centenary keepsake of “The Patron and the Crocus” offers two different colored letterpress covers.

Martin Andrews of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading patiently helped guests print their own woodcut copies of Roger Fry’s design, “The London Garden.”

Woodcuts hanging to dry at the Hogarth Press 100th birthday party.

Party guests enjoying Cecil Woolf’s reminiscences.

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After decades of publishing other people’s books, Cecil Woolf has written a monograph of his own. “Cecil Woolf: The Other Boy at the Hogarth Press, Virginia and Leonard Woolf as I Remember Them” is being launched at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virgina Woolf in Reading, England this week.

To order this monograph and others in the Bloomsbury Heritage and War Poets series, visit Cecil Woolf Publishers.

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