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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Woolf’

Virginia Woolf may soon have a London Tube stop named after her. And you can help make it happen.

Woolf is on the list of famous women being promoted as part of the City of Women London. Organized by the Women of the World foundation, the public history project is modeled after a similar one in New York.

The idea started with Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, who created an alternative map of the New York subway system that renamed stops after women, non-binary people, and female groups. The map turned into an iconic poster that has been updated to include new additions.

Vote for Virginia 

The London version, coordinated by Solnit, Jelly-Schapiro, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Emma Watson, reimagines the city’s classic Tube map as one that celebrates women who’ve made their mark on the city. And of course, that would be likely to include Woolf.

Suggestions for the London Tube map will be gathered by consulting with historians, writers, curators, community organizers, women’s rights organizations, museums, and librarians and through an open call to the public to submit ideas. Your vote for Woolf — or the woman or non-binary individual of your choice — can be sent to cityofwomenlondon@gmail.com or submitted via an online form.

How does it impact our imaginations that so many places in so many cities are named after men and so few after women? What kind of landscape do we move through when streets and parks and statues and bridges are gendered … and it’s usually one gender, and not another? What kind of silence arises in places that so seldom speak of and to women? This map was made to sing the praises of the extraordinary women who have, since the beginning, been shapers and heroes of this city that has always been, secretly, a City of Women. And why not the subway? This is a history still emerging from underground, a reminder that it’s all connected, and that we get around.
—Rebecca Solnit

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A beautifully crafted staff-student book that is part of a collaborative project at the University of Reading is now available.

A Room of Our Own: The Virginia Woolf Learning Journals presents witty, inventive, and deeply felt learning journal entries from more than 20 final year students in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Appropriately enough, the university was the site of the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf and the World of Books,

Content of the book

The entries are 500-word pieces of critical and creative writing responding to Woolf’s novels and essays.

The 64 contributions are organized into 10 chapters. The texts discussed in the collection are The Voyage Out, Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One’s Own, Three Guineas, ‘Street Haunting’, ‘Modern Novels’, ‘Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown’, ‘Professions for Women’ and ‘Memories of a Working Women’s Guild’.

Madeleine Davies’ introduction to the book explains the genesis of the project and its links to diversifying assessment practice, student engagement, and the ability of graduates to find employment.

Look of the book

Designer Katy Smith studied Woolf’s handwritten letters so she could create a hand drawn typeface in a similar style in a shade of purple, Woolf’s ink preference for her own writing. She also designed special icons representative of each chapter.

Smith worked with Davies and three student editors from the English Literature Department — Libby Bushill, Zoë Kyle and Maddie Bazin — on the project.

An award winner

The project has won two University of Reading collaborative excellence awards, has been the basis of a Times Higher Education shortlisting (2019) for Most Innovative Teaching, and is the university’s nomination for this year’s HE Advanced CATE Award.

Get a copy

A Room of One’s Own is available as an e-book and as a paperback. You can follow the project on Twitter at @RoomofOurOwnUOR.

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From the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain comes these resources: links to two short videos of an exchange of letters between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Both were recorded for Amnesty International and LGBTI+.

  • Vita’s letter to Virginia, read by Jodie Comer
  • Virginia letter replying to Vita, read by Nicola Coughlan

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In 2009 I posted a review of Stephanie Barron’s The White Garden, and a year later about discovering Virginia Woolf’s socks (on Julian Bell) in bed with infamous spy Anthony Blunt. In exploring spy connections, I’d somehow I’d overlooked—until now—the 1983 novel by Ellen Hawkes and Peter Manso, The Shadow of the Moth: A Novel of Espionage with Virginia Woolf.

It’s 1917, mid-World War I, and Woolf’s curiosity is aroused by the report of a young Belgian woman’s suicide. One thing leads to another, as Woolf and an American journalist uncover a clandestine attempt to pass English military secrets to the Germans. Spies and double agents, aristocrats and industrial magnates, MI5 and Scotland yard—all the greedy, power-hungry men; even Maynard Keynes and Clive Bell; even Leonard Woolf by his overprotectiveness of Virginia.

At the end she realizes that “The war might alter everyone’s values but her personal fight had to be on her own terms. She wouldn’t wage it by adopting men’s ways.” Back at work on her novel in progress, what would become Night and Day, she creates the character of Mary Datchet, a spirited, determined, independent woman, to balance the conventional Katharine Hilbery.

I enjoyed this portrait of a spirited, determined, and independent Virginia, but most striking was the authors’ epilogue:

“In 1937, with war once again threatening Europe, Virginia Woolf wrote Three Guineas, her indictment of masculine aggression, German fascism and incipient totalitarianism at home. Four years later, in 1941, her body was found in the river Ouse behind Monk’s House, her home in Sussex. To this day, her death is commonly believed to have been a suicide.”

Here, as in The White Garden, is the supposition that there were other possibilities. In an email exchange, I asked Stephanie Barron (real name Francine Mathews) how she came to question the cause of Woolf’s death. She said her research uncovered what for her were surprises: Leonard announcing Virginia’s death the day after she disappeared; the lack of a full-blown police investigation; Leonard’s identification of her remains alone; the swiftness of cremation; his burial of the ashes by himself.

“It all seemed highly irregular, almost furtive. It smacked of a cover-up. Probably that was due to the stigma of mental illness and suicide. But if one chooses to write speculative fiction, it’s rife with possibilities.”

Woolf scholars have accepted the seemingly incontrovertible evidence of her suicide. Still—and not to succumb to the current fetish for conspiracy theories—it’s hard not to wonder….

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Two years ago, when the third Wednesday in June was officially chosen as #DallowayDay, no one would have imagined that a worldwide pandemic would force us to devise or search out virtual or individual events to celebrate the fine day in June when Clarissa Dalloway went walking through London to “buy the flowers herself.”

But that is what has happened. And here are some of the events available tomorrow, Wednesday, June 17, on #DallowayDay2020, as we celebrate Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway.

  • The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain wants Virginia Woolf readers to send them photos of how YOU are celebrating #DallowayDay or Virginia Woolf’s work this month. Send them to Sarah M. Hall at smhall123@yahoo.co.uk with a line or two of description. The society may put them on the VWSGB website or Facebook page, but you can let them know if they are for the society’s eyes only.
  • View “A Moment in the Life of Virginia Woolf,” a virtual art exhibition online June 17. All works are for sale. There is also an illustrated pamphlet, ‘A Moment in the Life of Virginia Woolf: A Lighthouse Shone in Tavistock Square’, which uses Virginia Woolf’s own words from letters, diaries and excerpts from the novel. And you can view a video of the project.
  • The Royal Society of Literature has a full slate of virtual events for Dalloway Day.
    • It has joined with Literary Hub, whose managing editor Emily Temple will host a Zoom-based book group on the novel tomorrow. The event is sold out, but you can sign up to be placed on a waiting list.
    • Another RSL remote event, in partnership with Charleston, is “The Common Reader in Uncommon Times” June 17 at 6:30 p.m. BST.
    • A third RSL remote event is “The Pleasure of the Everyday” June 17 at 8 p.m. BST.
  • “For it was the middle of June,” a Dalloway Day blog post from the British Library.
  • If you are near London, the VWSGB also offers its Mrs. Dalloway Walk in London, from Dean’s Yard, Westminster, to Regent’s Park. According to the society, this walk combines Mrs Dalloway’s journey, from her house to Bond Street where she buys the flowers and hears the car backfire, with Rezia’s and Septimus’s (they also hear the car at the same time) from Bond Street to Regent’s Park. (Please note: You may find that certain locations on the walk are inaccessible during lockdown.)
  • Listen to a discussion of Woolf’s novel on BBC Radio 4.
  • Listen to “Queer Bloomsbury, Stillness in art and dance” on BBC Radio 3 June 17 at 10 p.m.
  • Watch an 18-minute video provided by the British Library in which Elaine Showalter explores modernity, consciousness, gender, and time in the novel. On the British Library site, you can also view Woolf’s drafts of some pages of the novel.

And if you understand Italian, you can follow along with the DallowayDay 2020 video from the Italian Virginia Woolf Society.

 

 

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