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Posts Tagged ‘Monk’s House’

Virginia Woolf’s writing lodge at Monk’s House

Emily Florence, a researcher for Lonelyleap, is working on an audio project about people’s connection to place. She sent the message below to the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain. Please contact her directly if you would like to be involved in the National Trust audio project she describes.

I am a researcher at Lonelyleap working on an audio project for the National Trust about people’s connection to place. I wondered whether you or any of your members who have visited Monk’s House might be interested in participating in the project. Obviously the house is a special place for anyone with an interest in Virginia Woolf and so I imagine there may be many people who feel a strong connection to it. Would you mind posting this on your group and asking anyone interested to get in touch via the email stories@lonelyleap.com?

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Literature Cambridge will offer two interesting summer courses next year.

Virginia Woolf’s writing Lodge at Monk’s House

Virginia Woolf’s Gardens will be held July 14-19. The course will emphasize the importance of gardens to Woolf’s life and work, from her early story “Kew Gardens” (1917) to her last novel, Between the Acts (1941).

Other course readings include Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928) and A Room of One’s Own (1929).

Lecturers include Suzanne Raitt, Gillian Beer, Alison Hennegan, Clare Walker Gore, Karina Jakubowicz, Nadine Tschacksch, Trudi Tate, Kabe Wilson and Caroline Holmes.

An optional visit to Monk’s House and Charleston will be offered.

Fictions of Home: Jane Austen to the Present Day will be held July 21-26 at Wolfson College, Cambridge. The course explores ideas of home in literature, from the early nineteenth century until today, from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, through Dickens, Katherine Mansfield, and Virginia Woolf, ending with contemporary refugee writers.

The provisional course reading list includes Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813); Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (written 1798; published 1817); Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850);
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925); Katherine Mansfield, Collected Short Stories (mainly 1920s);
Viet Nguyen, The Refugees (2017); Viet Nguyen, The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (2018); David Herd and Anna Pincus, eds., Refugee Tales II (2017).

Instructors include Alison Hennegan, Isobel Maddison, Clare Walker Gore, and Trudi Tate.

Bookings open soon.

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Share a photo of your room of your own with Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Monks House.

The National Trust property in Rodmell, East Sussex, is creating a Woolf installation in her writing lodge, and there are two ways you can get involved:

  • Send an image of “A Room of Your Own” and briefly describe what you do in the space.
  • Donate your copy of the book, highlighting your favorite word, lines, or passage. Doodles, highlights and margin notes are welcome!

All images used will be added to a database and combined with other images to create an audio-visual installation. Books will not be returned.

Find out more about the A Room of One’s Own project.

This project explores the significance of the room in Virginia Woolf’s text as a creative space, be it real or psychological. – National Trust website

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Virginia Woolf’s 136th birthday was a big one. Google Doodle led the way by using its daily doodle to pay homage to her on her special day. The drawing lit a Woolfian wildfire of birthday candles that spread across the globe, with media big and small sharing the news, along with social media users.

Google Doodle in commemoration of Woolf’s 136th birthday

Links to media coverage of the Google Doodle birthday tribute to Woolf

Other birthday tributes

  • At The Guardian, author Kait Welsh suggested that we celebrate Woolf rather than Burns on Burns Day, as they share the same birthday.

    Virginia Woolf taking tea, photograph by Lady Ottoline Morrell, June 1923

  • At The Weekly Standard, Chris Deaton admired Woolf’s extraordinary writing in To the Lighthouse.
  • At The Independent, Joe Sommerlad discussed what makes Woolf famous.
  • At Quartz, Thu-Huong-Ha extolled the lessons Woolf teaches about how to be a thinking woman.
  • Marie Clare shared nine important feminist Woolf quotes from A Room of One’s Own.
  • Mental Floss shared some, too.
  • At the Deccan Herald, readers were challenged with a Woolf quiz.
  • On Facebook, the Great British Tea Party posted an image of Woolf taking tea with Ottoline Morrell.
  • Goodreads shared the Google Doodle on its Facebook page.
  • Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Facebook page posted a tribute, along with many others.

Google Doodle artist tweeted her thoughts

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And Twitter blew up with birthday greetings, including a special one from National Trust Books that featured Monk’s House and another from the National Museum of Women in the Arts that showed Judy Chicago’s preparatory drawings for her Woolf plate in The Dinner Party.

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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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Virginia Woolf’s diary entries from around Christmas bring into sharp relief the feelings that the festive season stirs. Her pieces are coloured by the unpredictable shifts of British winter weather, express the pull between social event and solitude, and are self-reflective in their review of the past.

The following entries span the twenty-year period from 1920-40 and express the layered and complex connotations that our annual traditions hold.

woolf-xmas

“A Virginia Woolf Christmas – Monks House Welcome Home” design by Amanda White

19 December 1920, Hogarth House

In 1920, Woolf’s entry anticipates her New Year’s return to Rodmell and the comfort and routine this will bring. She imagines the “soft, grey walk” she will take in the dappled cool winter light on the greyed heather and chalky mud of the Sussex Downs. Woolf weaves this expectation for the New Year with the immediacy of Christmas at the end of the entry where we join her in delighting in an early Christmas gift from Leonard:

So we reach the end of the year; which is for us cheerful, I think. For one thing we want to get to Rodmell; to see what has happened to the garden. I shall like a soft grey walk. Then the post. Then reading. Then sitting in the chimney corner […] (I use my new blotter, just given me by L., for the first time).

26 December 1929, Monks House

In 1929 Monks House delivers the atmospheric weather that Woolf had imagined at the beginning of the century. She writes, moreover, of its changeability and its effect on her – producing a “violent Christmas” which gives way to a “serene Boxing day”. Here we also see her desire for solitude in the face of incessant society and the hope that, for once, this will truly be possible:

And I am sitting in my new room, with curtains, fire, table; and two great views; sometimes sun over the brooks and storm over the church. A violent Christmas; a brilliant serene Boxing day. I find it almost incredibly soothing – a fortnight alone – almost impossible to let oneself have it. Relentlessly we have crushed visitors: we will be alone this once, we say; and really, it seems possible.

21 December 1933, 52 Tavistock Square

Christmas’s habit of repeating itself is hinted at in 1929 where the impossibility of retreat seems to be routine. In 1933, Woolf is particularly reflexive on the patterns of Christmas, calling the morning of preparing to go down to Rodmell a “relic”, seemingly aged and outdated:

This is the relic of a morning when I should tidy, pack, write letters and so on. We lunch at quarter to one, and then go, this yellow cold morning. No longer the great tradition that it used to be.

24 December 1940, Monks House

Woolf’s seasonal self-reflection is also present in our final entry from 1940, which begins by fantasising about living at Alciston Farm House but ends on a note of quiet contentment with home at Monks House:

“We lunched with Helen [Anrep at Alciston]; and again ‘I could have fancied living there’. An incredible loveliness. The downs breaking their wave, yet one pale quarry; and all the barns and stacks either a broken pink, or a verdurous green; and then the walk by the wall; and the church; deep hollows, where the past stands almost stagnant. And the little spire across the fields… L. is now cutting logs, and after my rush of love and envy for Alciston farm house, we concluded this [Monks House] is the perfect place.”

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When I visited Monk’s House back in 2004, I was not permitted to take interior photographs. So of course I bought the National Trust book.

Today I came across a few photos of the house that were shared on Twitter by @CasaLettori, with text in Italian. The photos remind me of the home’s loveliness. I’m sharing them here, with the thought that camera phones have changed everything.

 

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