Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Woolf lovers check out your Google Plus rank

I have just found a site that allows you to see where you rank on Google Plus (Google+). For your information I am only 83040 places below Lady GaGa who is at the top. Go to Social Statistics to get your ranking then post it the comments section. How popular are you really? I am working to get below 80,000th. I don't think Woolf lovers rate yet. Cheers Grant

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An exile from natural happiness

The Diary Volume 3 - Friday 9 April 1926

"Only I am exiled from this profound natural happiness. That is what I always feel; or often feel now - natural happiness is what I lack, in profusion. I have intense happiness - not that. It is therefore what I most envy; geniality & family love & being on the rails of human life."

It must have been disconcerting for Virginia to have periods of her life where she was off the rails and starved of natural happiness. Obviously she had times of intense happiness but that enduring feeling of happiness eluded her. Would she have been so driven to write if she had enjoyed profound natural happiness? I suspect not, but we will never know.

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Virginia Woolf - a Sailing Allusion

The Diary Volume 3 - Wednesday 24 March 1926

"To upset everything every 3 or 4 years is my notion of a happy life. Always to be tacking to get into the eye of the wind." I like the yatching allusion here, reminds me of To the Lighthouse. She had obviously messed about in boats at some time, probably at St Ives. Tacking into the wind gives the picture of someone who will take things as they come and not flinch from change. This was a radical position for a young Victorian lady to take.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Some facts you may not know about Virginia Woolf

1. For a time, Woolf wrote while standing at a desk 3’6″ tall because she wanted to be like a painter who could instantly step away from her canvas to get a better view.

2. While still in the nursery, she was nicknamed “The Goat.”

3. Woolf first tried to kill herself at the age of 22 by jumping out of a window. The window she jumped from, however, was not high enough to cause serious harm.

4. Woolf’s dog, Hans, was known for interrupting parties by getting sick and relieving itself on the hearthrug.

5. As a child, Woolf was a formidable bowler.

6. Woolf was highly critical of her friends’ eating habits at the dinner table, often reproving them for eating with either too little grace or too much enthusiasm.

7. Woolf once said that her death would be the “one experience I shall never describe.”

Check out 59 Things you didn't know about Virginia Woolf where I accessed these facts. Thanks to Paul Heibert.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Prescient Question

"But what is to become of all these diaries, I asked myself yesterday. If I died, what would Leo make of them? He would be disinclined to burn them; he could not publish them. Well, he should make up a book from them, I think; & then burn the body. I daresay there is a little book in them: if the scraps and scratches were straightened out a little. God knows".
Luckily for us Leonard did not burn the diaries, but I do wonder how Virginia would feel having all her thoughts out on public display. I suspect that she knew that Leonard recognised her genius and would not let a large part of her writing disappear.

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The Writers Character - Virginia Woolf

The Diary Volume 3 - Sunday 27 February 1926
"I was thinking about my own character; not about the universe. Oh & about society again; dining with Lord Berners at Clive's made me think that. How, at a certain moment, I see through what I'm saying; detest myself & wish for the other side of the moon; reading alone, that is. How many phases one goes through between the soup & the sweet! I want, partly as a writer, to found my impressions on something firmer."

Some more writers inside thoughts here. Even while she is eating dinner she is considering about her character as a writer. I really enjoy this introspection.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

A Tool for Bloggers

If like most of us bloggers you are looking for more eyes to your blog try this new tool called BlogClicker. You view others blogs and in return others visit your blog. Join Here if you are interested in getting more blogs viewers.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Virginia Woolf - Marcel Proust Connection

As well as being interested in the works of VW I am also a keen reader of Proust and Balzac. Proust is attractive because of his attention to detail and the force of his writing. What I had failed to appreciate until now was the Proust connection to Woolf.

As a New Zealander I was well aware of the Woolf-Mansfield connection and Woolf's comments that Katherine Mansfield was the person whose writing she most admired and would strive to better.

The Proust-Woolf connection was made through reading the book, How Proust Can Change Your Life by philosopher Alain de Botton (highly recommended).

Several quotes to show this:

"Reading Proust nearly silenced Virginia Woolf. She loved his novel, but loved it rather too much. There wasn't enough wrong with it, a crushing recognition when one follows Walter Benjamin in his assessment of why people become writers: because they are unable to find a book already written which they are completely happy with. And the difficulty for Virginia was that, for a time at least, she thought she had found one".

in a letter to Roger Fry she says,

"My great adventure is really Proust. Well what remains to be written after that? ... How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped - and made ittoo into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance? One has to put the book down and gasp."

There is another page or so of other text on this, but thought I would give you all a taster.

Maybe this explins why I enjoy both writers, and have in fact just purchased the 6 volumes of Proust's novel to read as my 2011 (now 2013) project.

Had anyone else made this connection? Are there any other Proust fans out there?

Virginia Woolf Battened Down in the Holds

The Diary Volume 3 - Tuesday 20 September 1925

"Haven't I just written to Herbert Fisher refusing to do a book for the Home University Series on Post Victorian? - knowing that I can write a book, a better book, a book off my own bat, for the Press if I wish. To think of being battened down in the hold of those University dons fairly makes my blood run cold. yet I'm the only woman in England free to write what I like".

This freedom to write as her own person is one of the powerful things in Woolf's writings. We are not getting a creed here but a slice of original thought. And it is the original thought that makes Woolf such a radical. She was probably right in her assumption about being the only woman in Britain of that time who could write exactly what she wanted.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Virginia Woolf turned down degrees

"Because she believed that full academic and military dress were ridiculous and incited people to envy and malevolence, Virginia herself turned down honorary doctorates from Manchester (1933) and Liverpool (1939), refused to give the Clark Lectures at Cambridge in 1932, and, later in life, turned down an Order of Merit."

(Roger Poole, "The Unknown Virginia Woolf" 1978 p. 219)

Do you think she was right? What would have been different if she had accepted the degrees?

The Diary Volume 3 - Mon 20 July 1925

"What shall I read at Rodmell? I have so many books at the back of my mind. I want to read voraciously & gather material for The Lives of the Obscure - which is to tell the histoty of England in one obsure life after another. Proust I would like to finish. Stendahl, and then to skirmish about hither & thither".

It is always a dilemna when going on holiday, as to what books to take. While this is not intertextuality in a strict sense it gives me an idea as to what was driving VW's thoughts at that time.

If in doubt I take about 30 books and then buy more if I can't get the book I want.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Virginia Woolf Diary Volume 3 Monday 20 July, 1925

A bit more here on the genesis of To the Lighthouse:

"But this theme may be sentimental; father & mother & child in the garden: the death; the sail to the lighthouse. I think, though, that when I begin it I shall enrich it in all sorts of ways; thicken it; give it branches & roots which I do not perceive now. It might contain all characters boiled down; & my childhood; & then this impersonal thing, which I'm dared to do by my friends, the flight of time, 7 the consequent break of unity in my design".

This reads like a recipe, with its references to thickening and boiling down. The result is certainly a very satisfactory repast.

Virginia Woolfs Diary Volume 3 - Sunday 17 May, 1925

Here is another glimpse of the multi-faceted Woolf:

"A little girl on the bus asked her mother how many inches are there in a mile. Her mother repeated this to me...the little girl (see my egotism) with her bright excitable eyes, & eagerness to grasp the whole universe reminded me of myself, asking questions of my mother".

I think Woolf retained this ability to wonder and see things as a child throughout her life.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Virginia Woolf Diary - Thu 14 May 1925

"The truth is that writing is the profound pleasure & being read the superficial. I'm now all on the strain with desire to stop journalism & get on to To the Lighthouse. This is going to be fairly short: to have father's character done complete in it; & mothers; & St Ives; & childhood; & all the usual things I try to put in - life, death &c. But the centre is father's character, sitting in a boat, reciting We perished, each alone, while he crushes a dying mackerel - However I nust refrain. I must write a few stories first, & let the Lighthouse simmer, adding to it between tea & dinner till it is complete for writing out".

I enjoy these peeks into the writer's mind. The imagery of simmering a Lighthouse is a lovely picture. This also gives us some insight into the subject matter of To the Lighthouse from the writers own pen.

Keep well fellow Woolfians


Virginia Woolf Diary Weds 18 March 1925

"At the moment (I have 7 1/2 until dinner)I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, & thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past."

Thought provoking statement here, with a Proustian touch. The value of contemplation becomes apparent when you take this view on our emotional lives. We need to let the expansion occur and then consider the impact.

Have a beautiful day


Friday, January 18, 2013

The Virginia Woolf Freud Connection

A site I found interesting and thought I'd share:

Virginia Woolf and Sigmund Freud were contemporaries and the Hogarth Press, owned and run by Virginia and her husband Leonard, translated and printed the works of Freud in English for the English speaking market. Her brother and sister in law both became Freudian psychoanalysts.

A Virginia Woolf Quiz

How well do you know Virginia Woolf , her life and works?

Go to for the quiz

then for the answers.

I am interested to see how you all do.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Holograph of Time Passes - Virginia Woolf

Check out this link: Holograph of Time Passes

The site has the holographic version of VW's Time Passes. The site says:

Welcome to the Genetic Edition of 'Time Passes'. The Genetic Edition of the text is comprised of the following four distinct layers, containing seven versions:

- the initial holograph draft which, with an undated single-page outline plan for 'Time Passes', has been reproduced in facsimile, and accompanied by a transcription.

- The second layer consists of the typescript that Woolf sent to Charles Mauron for him to translate into French. Though undated, it was apparently sent in late October or November 1926, and represents an intermediate stage of the text, between the initial manuscript and the marked-up proofs. Mauron's translation was subsequently published in the Paris periodical 'Commerce' for Winter 1926. It became the first of Woolf's writings to be translated into French, and this a significant document in the history of her French reception, providing the basis for her high reputation in France. Woolf's typescript has now been digitised and and encoded, and is available on this site.

- The third layer consists of the proofs of 'Time Passes', supplied by the printers to the Hogarth Press, R & R. Clarke of Edinburgh, with the corrections Woolf added for her US publisher Harcourt Brace.

- The fourth layer consists of facsimiles of the printed pages of 'Time Passes' as they appear in the British and the US First Editions with significant differences between these, occuring at moments of autobiographical significance, plus those of the Uniform and Everyman Edition.

Have a great weekend


The Dreadnought Hoax - Virginia Woolf

I have just been chuckling over the Dreadnought hoax which Virginia was asked to join at the last moment. She certainly had an interesting life. Dressed as an Abyssinian, Adrian (her brother) and others along with Virginia pretended to be visiting dignitaries and got a guided tour of the HMS Dreadnought. Nothing would have come of it, if the ringleader, Horace Cole, had not leaked the story to the press. Sounds just like a student prank. Grant

Monday, January 14, 2013

Virginia Woolf - Accelerator but No brakes

The extract below is from Quentin Bell's biography of Virginia.
"This was one of the difficulties of living with Virginia; her imagination was furnished with an accelerator and no brakes; it flew rapidly ahead, parting company with reality, and, when reality happened to be a human being, the result could be appalling for the person who found himself expected to live up to the character that Virginia had invented. But even when reality happened to be an umbrella it could cause havoc."

My view is that this is a bit overstated. One of the beauties of VW's writings is her very imagination...


Virginia Woolf's only known recording

This is the only way to hear what Virginia Woolf's voice sounded like: It's her only surviving recording(as far as we know): It is an interesting piece about words.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Virginia Woolf Timeline

This timeline is valuable to put comments and posts in this blog in context. You may want to bookmark it for future reference.

1878: Leslie Stephen and Julia Jackson Duckworth are married.

1882: Adeline Virginia Stephen born, 26 March, at 22 Hyde Park Gate, London.

1895: Death of Julia Stephen. Virginia has first nervous breakdown.

1897: Stella Duckworth, stepsister, dies. Virginia ill. Begins to study Greek at King's College.

1899: Brother Thoby enters Cambridge, with Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey, and Leonard Woolf.

1902: Takes private lessons in Greek. Has close friendship with Violet Dickinson.

1904: Death of Leslie Stephen after long illness. Virginia's second serious mental illness. Moves to 46 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury. Visits Italy and France. First publication, a review in The Guardian. Leonard Woolf to Ceylon as a government administrator.

1905: Visits Spain and Portugal with brother Adrian for two weeks.

1906: Visits Greece. Thoby Stephen dies of typhoid at 26. Virginia writes to Violet Dickinson (ill with typhoid) for a month, pretending Thoby still alive.

1907: Moves with Adrian to 29 Fitzroy Square. Begins work on first novel.

1908: Visits Italy. Julian, a first child, is born to Vanessa (Virginia's sister) and Clive Bell.

1909: Proposal of marriage from Lytton Strachey, accepted. He breaks it off. Receives a legacy of £ 2500. Visits Italy; Bayreuth for Wagner festival.

1910: Ill through the summer. Takes rest cure in nursing home. Birth of Vanessa's second child, Quentin. Roger Fry organizes first Post- Impressionist exhibition.

1911: Brief visit to Turkey. Leonard Woolf returns from Ceylon.

1912: Rest cure in nursing home. Leonard Woolf proposes. They marry, 10 August, honeymoon in France, Spain, and Italy. Lease Asham House until 1919.

1913: Completes The Voyage Out, first novel. Increasing illness, rest cure in nursing home. Leonard Woolf advised Virginia should not have children. Attempts suicide by overdose of veronal.

1915: Move to Hogarth House, Paradise Road, Richmond (there until 1924). Violent illness, in nursing home. Publication by Gerald Duckworth of The Voyage Out.

1916: Early work on second novel, Night and Day.

1917: Printing press in Hogarth House. First publications: The Mark on the Wall (Virginia), Three Jews (Leonard). Begins diary, portions to be published in 1953 as A Writer's Diary. Writing for The Times Literary Supplement.

1918: Working on Night and Day. Reads manuscript of Joyce's Ulysses. First meeting with T. S. Eliot. Kew Gardens published. Frequent visits with Katherine Mansfield. Birth of Vanessa's third child, Angelica.

1919: Prints Eliot's Poems. Give up Asham House. Purchase and move to Monk's House, Rodmell, Sussex.

1920: Begins Jacob's Room.

1921: Monday or Tuesday published. Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria.

1922: Ill health. Jacob's Room published. Meets Mrs. Harold Nicolson (Vita Sackville-West).

1923: Katherine Mansfield dies. Leonard becomes literary editor of The Nation. Visit to Spain and France. At work on Mrs. Dalloway.

1924: Move to 52 Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury (houses the Press until 1939). Mrs. Dalloway completed. Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown published.

1925: The Common Reader and Mrs. Dalloway published.

1926: At work on To the Lighthouse.

1927: To the Lighthouse published. Frequent visits with Vita Sackville-West. Begins Orlando.

1928: Awarded Femina Vie Heureuse prize. Orlando published. Visits France with Vita Sackville-West. Reads two papers to the women's colleges at Cambridge.

1929: Trip to Germany. A Room of One's Own (the Cambridge lectures) published. At work on The Waves.

1931: The Waves published.

1932: A Letter to a Young Poet and The Common Reader: Second Series published.

1933: Refuses an honorary doctorate. Trip to France. At work on The Years. Declines Leslie Stephen lectureship at Cambridge. Flush published.

1934: Continues work on The Years. Walter Sickert: A Conversation published.

1936: At work on Three Guineas. Collecting material for Roger Fry.

1937: The Years published. Julian Bell killed in Spanish Civil War.

1938: Sells interest in Hogarth Press to John Lehmann. At work on Roger Fry. Three Guineas published.

1939: Meets Sigmund Freud. Refuses an honorary doctorate. Visits France.

1940: Reads paper in Brighton to Workers' Educational Association (later published as "The Leaning Tower"). Roger Fry: A Biography published.

1941: Completes Between the Acts. Drowns herself in river not far from Monk's House. Between the Acts published.

(From Virginia Woolf by Manly Johnson, 1973, New York, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.)

For a detailed chronology in print, see Quentin Bell's biography of Virginia Woolf.