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One day walking round Tavistock Square I made up, as I sometimes make up my books, ‘To the Lighthouse’ – Virginia Woolf.

That quote is the inspiration for an illustrated pamphlet published last month and created by artist Louisa Amelia Albani. Titled A Moment in the Life of Virginia Woolf: A Lighthouse Shone in Tavistock Square, the booklet visually reimagines this ‘moment’ on a summer afternoon in London’s Tavistock Square in 1925.

To do so, it uses Woolf’s own words from her letters and diaries, along with excerpts from To the Lighthouse (1927).

I ordered a copy of Albani’s pamphlet last week. It hasn’t arrived from London yet, but I did get a thank you email for my order directly from Albani — an unexpected but lovely treat.

Art exhibit too

The artist also has an online art exhibition with the same title. The exhibit includes more than a dozen pieces based on Woolf. Many of them are already sold, so if you are interested in an original piece of art connected to Woolf, take a look now.

Below is a video of the project that the artist has posted on YouTube.

 

 

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The temperature was 34 degrees and a light dusting of snow covered the ground when my copy of London in Bloom by Georgianna Lane arrived in my Ohio mailbox several weeks ago.

With its cover photo depicting pale pink roses draping a doorway, arching over a window, and filling the basket of a matching pink bicycle parked out front, the book introduced a welcome breath of spring into my life that day. We need that even more now.

Turning from fear to beauty

The coronavirus has infected our globe, and many of us are sheltering at home, attempting to stave off the ugliness of anxiety. So there is no better time to open a book full of the floral beauty of London, Virginia Woolf’s favorite city.

London in Bloom is the third and final book in Lane’s Cities in Bloom series, published by Abrams. To capture the images that fill it, she spent many early morning hours photographing the floral beauty and architectural detail of England’s capitol before residents and tourists clogged the streets, sidewalks, and parks. I daresay she would find that task easier now.

On “Tea and Tattle”

I first heard of the book on episode 27 of Francesca Wade’s “Tea and Tattle” podcast. Wade describes it as “most beautiful guide to the city’s parks, gardens, florists and hotels and should be on any London-lover’s shelf!”

Much like Woolf, a lover of gardens who incorporated them into her life and into her work, the author shares her affection for London’s gardens in her Introduction to the book:

Perhaps not surprisingly, my most memorable London experiences have been inextricably interwoven with gardens… the open spaces of London have seeped into my consciousness, awakened my imagination, and become part of me” (7).

From parks and gardens to floral displays

London in Bloom is divided into four sections:

  • parks and gardens
  • floral boutiques
  • market flowers and
  • floral displays.

Each is introduced by a page or two of text that shares Lane’s thoughts and experiences, then filled with gorgeous photos of flowers and architectural details — brickwork, tile-work, doorways — that enhance them.

Whimsical touches are also introduced in the form of light cotton floral print dresses in a shop window, teacups and cake on a tea table, and London’s trademark red phone booth and double decker buses.

Beauty and practicality

Despite some touches of red, the theme throughout is pastel — from flowers to buildings to cover pages. But the book includes the practical, as well as the beautiful.

The back section gives us instructions on creating our own London-style bouquet, a field guide to London’s spring blooming trees and shrubs, and an introductory guide to springtime blooms throughout the city.

London in Bloom provides delectable refreshment for the eye and the soul in our troubled times, whether you are a lover of flowers, a fan of London, or just in need of a bit of balm.

 

 

 

 

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A new exhibit, “Virginia Woolf Was Here: Mapping Mrs. Dalloway,” will be on display at Amarillo College’s Southern Light Gallery in Amarillo, Texas through April 1.

Adriane Little shares the process she used to create “Virginia Woolf Was Here: Short Stories” as part of her presentation at the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at the University of Kent in Canterbury in 2018.

The photographic retracing of Mrs. Dalloway’s walk through London is the work of Adriane Little, a lens-based conceptual artist and educator from Kalamazoo, Mich., who has presented her work at recent Annual International Conferences on Virginia Woolf. That includes her 2018 presentation on  “Virginia Woolf Was Here: Altered Books” in which she combined Woolf’s words with water from Woolf sites.

About “Mapping Mrs. Dalloway”

“I walked the streets of London and photographed along the path that Mrs. Dalloway walks in the novel. These are the same streets that Woolf herself walked countless times,” Little said in a news story at Myghighplains.com.

She said her “intention was not to illustrate the novel, but instead to use stream of consciousness in capturing the images. This mirrors the literary strategy of the novel.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

More mapping

Little, on Instagram as @adriane.jpeg, is not the only one to map out Clarissa’s path in the novel.

In 2011, a group of scholars devised the Mrs. Dalloway Mapping Project, a series of interactive, annotated maps of London that serve as a guide to the novel. The  maps show the paths that Clarissa, Peter and Rezia and Septimus follow over the course of the novel. The project is the creation of Adam Erwood, London Lamb, Jasmine Perrett, Anjaly Poruthoor and Manoj Vangala for an English class at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

This Map of Fictional London is available from the Literary Gift Company

 

 

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Five radical women writers living in a square in a London neighborhood. The square is Mecklenburgh. The neighborhood is Bloomsbury. And one of the women writers is Virginia Woolf.

The book that tells the story of the five independent women writers who lived in Mecklenburgh Square at various times between the two world wars is Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars, just published by Faber & Faber.

Besides Woolf, the women Wade discusses include detective novelist Dorothy Sayers, modernist poet Hilda Doolittle (known as HD), the maverick classicist Jane Ellen Harrison, and the economic historian Eileen Power.

The publisher’s website describes the book this way:

Francesca Wade’s spellbinding group biography explores how these trailblazing women pushed the boundaries of literature, scholarship, and social norms, forging careers that would have been impossible without these rooms of their own.

And one reviewer called Woolf “The presiding genius of this original and erudite book,” describing her “essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’ [as] provided the rallying cry, whether consciously or not, for five remarkable women, all drawn at some point in their careers to Bloomsbury’s Mecklenburgh Square.”

Glowing reviews

I plan to obtain a copy of Square Haunting and review it here. After all, Mecklenburgh Square has a special meaning for me, as it is one of the Woolf sites I visited in 2016 when Cecil Woolf, Virginia and Leonard’s nephew who passed away last June, led me on a six-mile walking tour of Bloomsbury. It was a most memorable day.

For now, though, here are a few quotes from the glowing reviews of Wade’s first book that have already been published online.

Wade’s book rises above the publishing cliches to tell a deeper story about women’s autonomy in the early 20th century, about their work and education, politics and activism. What emerges is an eloquent, pellucid, sometimes poignant study of five female intellectuals, each of whom disdained convention to fulfil their potential as thinkers and writers. – Review by Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Guardian

It is a pleasure to fall into step with the eloquent, elegant Wade as she stamps the streets of literary London. I would give a copy to every young woman graduating from university and wondering who and how to be … There is much to inspire. – The Times Literary Supplement

Wade is adept at evoking the gritty texture of the times, taking us seamlessly from the interior lives of her subjects into the world they inhabited and back again. – Ariane Bankes, Spectator

The site of the building in Mecklenburgh Square in which Virginia Woolf lived. Cecil and I paused here during our 2016 tour of Bloomsbury.

 

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A piece by Leonard Woolf from the October 1955 issue (Vol. 2, No. 10) of The London Magazine is now online.

Titled “Coming to London — II,” it was reprinted in A Bloomsbury Group Reader edited by S.P. Rosenbaum and published by Blackwell Publishers in 1993.

In addition, much of it is incorporated in Leonard’s biography, according to the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain.

In the “London Magazine”, it was part of a regular series that was published in book form by Phoenix House, London, 1957, and then by Books for Libraries Press, Freeport, NY, 1971. The other contributors were: William Plomer, V. S. Pritchett, George Barker, J. B. Priestley, Elizabeth Bowen, Geoffrey Grigson, John Middleton Murry, Christopher Isherwood, Alan Pryce-Jones, William Sansom, Jocelyn Brooke, Rose Macaulay, Edith Sitwell.

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