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Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Woolf’

Literature Cambridge is offering a Reading Bloomsbury summer course, 23-28 July 2017, in Cambridge, England

This one-week immersion in the art of Vanessa Bell alongside Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, the sexual politics of Lytton Strachey and E.M. Forster, and the political ideas of J.M. Keynes, Leonard Woolf, Clive Bell, and others. The course takes an exciting new look at these interesting thinkers and their work.

Lecturers include Frances Spalding, Alison Hennegan, Claire Nicholson, Claudia Tobin and Peter Jones.

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Editor’s Note: This essay, written in March of this year, was contributed by Mine Özyurt Kılıç, a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University and co-organizer of Harvard’s May 10 event, A Press of One’s Own: Celebrating 100 Years of Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Hogarth Press. At Harvard, she currently investigates the connection between the ethical and aesthetic components of short fiction. Her research mostly focuses on contemporary British fiction with special interest in women’s writing. She is the author of the first book-length study on Maggie Gee’s fictionMaggie Gee: Writing the Condition-of-England Novel (Bloomsbury 2013). This academic celebration brings her back to her master’s thesis on the theme of failure in love in T. S. Eliot’s poetry as well as to her lectures on British Modernism.

The snail is a seal of the Hogarth Press, a signature of its focus on nature and the natural against the industrialized literary marketplace! Like this snail with its home on its back, The Hogarth married private and public life with a letterpress machine on a dining table. And that has made all the difference!

The snail that makes its appearance on the first publication of the Hogarth Press, “The Mark on the Wall” (1917), is the very emblem of the Woolfs’ mission. Like Schumacher’s claim for the economy “Small is Beautiful”, the Woolfs suggest that in “express[ing] the rapidity of life, the perpetual waste and repair”: Slow is beautiful!

This first Woolf story they publish can also be read as a fictional manifestation of Woolf’s ars poetica. The narrator first situates herself in the world understanding one truth about it– “what an airless, shallow, bald, prominent world it becomes! A world not to be lived in” — then discerns her calling in it:

I want to think quietly, calmly, spaciously, never to be interrupted, never to have to rise from my chair, to slip easily from one thing to another, without any sense of hostility, or obstacle. I want to sink deeper and deeper, away from the surface, with its hard separate facts.

This quiet, calm, spacious, and uninterrupted mode of deep thinking is the very engine behind Woolf’s Modernist texts that require a different mode of reading, a deliberately slow and effortful one that is like the movements of a crawling snail. The central motif in the story, also visually reproduced in Dora Carrington’s woodcut print to accompany the text, the snail is one of the many lives that the narrator feels committed to describe in detail.

[…] there are a million patient, watchful lives still for a tree, all over the world, in bedrooms, in ships, on the pavement, lining rooms, where men and women sit after tea, smoking cigarettes. It is full of peaceful thoughts, happy thoughts, this tree. I should like to take each one separately.

In a later Woolf story “Kew Gardens” (1919), the snail now becomes one of the central consciousnesses. A single figure among those visitors coming from different walks of life, it makes its way around the flowerbed, thinking whether it is better to move or not, drawing the reader’s attention to the minutiae of everyday life, to a moment of being, from a major to a minor key. As such, it becomes a sign of a special state of consciousness slow enough to attend to details, to the cotton wool of daily life, to moments of being, to epiphanies, to fragments shored against ruins, to marks on walls, flowers, images and smells that memory brings from distant times and places.

In the idiom of Woolf’s snail, the early Hogarth draws its readers’ attention to an eccentric, marginal and extraordinary vision that necessitates a reading slow enough to digest and savor millions of surrounding lives.

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A Press of One’s Own: Celebrating 100 Years of Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Hogarth Press,  a one-time event celebrating the centennial of the Hogarth Press, will be held on Wednesday, May 10, at Harvard University.

The multi-disciplinary and interactive celebration includes an exhibition of the original early Hogarth books and a round-table discussion at Houghton Library, as well as a hands-on letterpress workshop at the Harvard-related Bow & Arrow Press in Cambridge.

The exhibition will be followed by a seminar with three speakers who will talk about the different aspects of the Hogarth venture and its publications. The final stage is the printing workshop, during which a passage from “The Mark on the Wall,” the first product of the Hogarth (July 1917) will be reprinted.

Organizers hope that the event will raise questions not only about the historic venture of the Woolfs and their circle, but also about the role of independent publishing today.

Nowhere else could we have started the Hogarth Press, whose very awkward beginning had rise in this very room […] Here that strange offspring grew & throve; it ousted us from the dining room […] & crept all over the house. And people have been here, thousands of them it seems to me” – Virginia Woolf’s Diary, 9 January 1924

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Cecil Woolf at 46 Gordon Square, London

When we posted the news that Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia, was celebrating his 90th birthday on Feb. 20, it traveled far and wide.

Cecil, the oldest living relative of the Woolfs, received birthday greetings from around the world. And because he doesn’t have his own website or use social media, he asked Blogging Woolf to share this message of gratitude.

Cecil Woolf sends warmest thanks to all the very kind Woolfean well-wishers who sent him birthday greetings last month. They quite truly made my day. Thank you all very much indeed.

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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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If you haven’t joined the site Academia.edu, you may want to sign up. A number of papers on VirginiaLeonard Woolf bio cover Woolf and the Bloomsbury group are uploaded there and can be downloaded free of charge. Some of them were shared at recent Woolf conferences. You can also search the site for additional resources.

Recently uploaded papers include:

Read more.

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I wish I’d remembered to post this information earlier, but there are still a few days remaining to visitHogarth Plaque the Virginia Woolf and the Hogarth Press exhibit in Richmond. Up since Oct. 29, the exhibit ends Dec. 10.

You’ll find it at the Riverside Gallery, Old Town Hall, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond, TW9 1TP.

Held in conjunction with the Richmond Literature Festival, the exhibit celebrates a century since Virginia and Leonard Woolf began publishing in Richmond under the auspices of their small publishing house started in 1917, the Hogarth Press.

The press gave Leonard and Virginia the opportunity to self-publish and provided an important opportunity for writers and artists to showcase their work uncensored and in small print runs.

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