Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Woolf’

Eleanor Crook is creating a life-sized Virginia Woolf that will be presented, fully dressed, inside a room of her own — a wooden wardrobe.

The finished wax work Woolf will be placed in the foyer of the newly refurbished Virginia Woolf building at 22 Kingsway at King’s College, London.

by Lady Ottoline Morrell, vintage snapshot print, June 1923

by Lady Ottoline Morrell, vintage snapshot print, June 1923

Crook, a sculptor and medical artist, will dress her creation in clothing modeled after the dress, shawl and hat Woolf wore in a 1923 photograph taken by Lady Ottoline Morell. It pictures Woolf sitting side by side on a garden bench with Lytton Strachey. She is smoking.

According to Crook’s website, she was asked by the historian Dr. Ruth Richardson and by King’s College London to make the wax version of Woolf.

You can view her progress on the sculpture by viewing photos Crook has included on her website. She expects the work to be finished in October.

Woolf was a student at the former King’s Ladies’ Department where she took classes in Greek, Latin, history and German between 1897 and 1902.




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When new fiction disappoints me, as it often does, I go back to old favorites. My summer reading has consisted of rereading a few books I’ve threatened to give a second or third go. A couple of them surprised me with mentions of Virginia Woolf that I’d forgotten.

I started with Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, which I wrote about here with great Rules of Civilityenthusiasm a few years ago. It’s still one of my all-time favorite contemporary novels, and I appreciated, once again, his references to Woolf as a contemporary icon for his 1930s characters.

Mary Wesley is one of those late-blooming authors I return to for “it’s never too late” inspiration. Her first novel was published in 1983 when she was 70, and she followed with nine more over the next 14 years; two were adapted for BBC television movies. They’re witty and wise, sometimes just plain silly—perfect summer reading.

I started with her first novel, my favorite, Jumping the Queue, in which Matilda, tired of life, and Hugh, a hunted “Matricide,” are planning separate suicides in Devon waters when they accidentally meet. If you thought Gone Girl was special with its Woolf jumping the queuesuicide reference, Mary Wesley was there first.

Hugh: “I was going to fill my pockets with stones and go into the river like Virginia Woolf.”

Matilda: “I’d forgotten about Virginia Woolf and the stones. I must remember.”

I saw the film “Learning to Drive,” thrilled to see a personal essay adapted to film, even if it bore only slight resemblance to its source. I decided to reread Katha Pollitt’s real story, the title piece in her excellent 2007 collection, and the rest of the essays in it too. In “Memoir of a Shy Pornographer” (the lengths writers will go to in order to make a living from words!) she’s just out of college and takes a job as a freelance copy editor and proofreader of porn novels. She talks about the tedium of reading drawn-out sex scenes:

The Beeline writers had hit upon the very techniques pioneered by the giants of high modernism: stream of consciousness, internal monologue, indirect discourse, dream sequences, disruptions of time, and far too many adjectives. Sometimes, when I saw a single sentence throbbing and thrusting down a whole page and maybe the next one too, I would cheat a bit and just kind of sweep over it with my eyes. I did the same thing with The Sound and the Fury and The Waves.

 And so it goes….

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If you have 16 minutes and an interest in Virginia Woolf’s life and writing — and you must or you wouldn’t be visiting this blog — take a look at this Virginia Woolf timeline in photographs. It’s set to Phillip Glass music and it will make you recall The Hours.

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Patrizia Muscogiuri will present a talk on Virginia Woolf and the sea in Kent on Monday.

“The Shore of the Wor(l)d. Liminality and Agency in Virginia Woolf” is part of The Topographies Project: Beaches Symposium at the University of Kent, Whitstable, Kent. Her talk is scheduled for Sept. 21 from 4:10-5:30 p.m. All are welcome.

Photo by Patrizia Muscogiuri

Photo by Patrizia Muscogiuri

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On Twitter yesterday, I discovered a World War I mystery featuring Virginia Woolf, a paperback copy of my first Mrs. Dalloway for sale, and a Twitter user, @the__waveswho is doing something unique — posting a line from The Waves each day.

You can scroll down to see all three — and at the end of your scroll you’ll see the lovely Virginia Woolf’s English Hours by Peter Tolhurst, which I received from Black Dog Books (mistakenly identified as Black Dog Press in my tweet) just last Friday. Review to come.

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Alexandra Harris’s long-awaited Weatherland: Writers and Artists Under English Skiespublished byharris Thames & Hudson, is due out in the UK this week and will be published in the U.S. on Feb. 15, 2016.

I’ve been eager to read this book since I first heard about it in 2010, particularly when I learned Harris would be discussing Woolf’s use of weather.

On Woolf and weather

Woolf and weather has been a subject dear to my heart since I enrolled in an interdisciplinary graduate program at Kent State University in 2001. The introductory course for the Master of Liberal Studies Program focused on weather. And when we read about England’s Great Frost, I immediately recalled those scenes from Woolf’s Orlando.

When I had read the novel years earlier, I thought Woolf had imagined the weather scenes. Happily, I discovered I was wrong. This made me wonder what Woolf knew about weather, how weather affected her, and how she used it in her writing.

I went on to research and write about Woolf and weather for Cecil Woolf Publishers. At the time, there was nothing written on the subject, so it was wide open for inquiry. I read Ruskin, explored J.M.W. Turner’s art for its depiction of weather, read weather journals kept by rural residents, explored the history of weather science, and looked up weather data from Woolf’s time and Orlando’s. I searched Woolf’s novels, diaries, and letters for reference to weather, finally turning to her essays, where I discovered her theories about weather and literature.

Cecil published my monograph, Reading the Skies in Virginia Woolf: Woolf on Weather in Her Essays, Her Diaries and Three of Her Novels, in 2009. But I knew I had only scratched the surface.

Harris on Woolf and weather

Harris has been researching and writing about weather and literature for years. She spoke about Woolf and weather at the 2012 Woolf conference in Saskatoon and has published several pieces on the topic. This year, she gave the Virginia Woolf Birthday Lecture, delivered at Senate House in London, on “Woolf in Winter.” It was published by the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain. And on Feb. 15, 2014, she published ‘Drip, drip, drip’, a lead article in The Guardian, on the topical subject of rain in literature.

Now Harris’s new book promises to uncover so much more about Woolf’s use of weather and the role weather plays in English literature from the eighth century onward. In a June 2012 email to me, she promised her book would include a chapter on Woolf. Harris’s Sept. 11 piece in The Guardian, “Making the Weather in English Writing and Art,” gives us a taste.

Harris will team up with Frances Spalding for the book launch at the London Review Bookshop, where it is displayed in their windows, on Wednesday. She will also give a lecture on the topic at the British Museum on Oct. 19.

In a sweeping panorama, Weatherland allows us to witness England’s cultural climates across the centuries . . . Weatherland is a celebration of English air and a life story of those who have lived in it. -Thames & Hudson

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Virginia Woolf is already a superhero at my house, but she may soon be one on theSuperhero Woolf commercial market as well.

One day, as I sat at my laptop in a room of my own, my eight-year-old twin grandchildren pulled Virginia Woolf down from her shelf, grabbed Wonder Woman, and had the two battling each other, as well as Spiderman and Aquaman.

When Woolf seemed to be losing against the comic book heroes, I told my grandchildren that she had a superpower of her own: The power of the pen. That stopped them in their tracks.

Now a company called Little Giants is launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a toy line that will include Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi and Andy Warhol.

Yes, all four figures are men — and three out of four are white. But the company says that if all goes well, it will add Woolf to the lineup, along with Frieda Kahlo.

I want to see that. And maybe my grandchildren will too.

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