Saturday, October 25, 2014

Virginia Woolf on the Past

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” ― Virginia Woolf

This is a very important thought. Retrospection adds the body to our experiences. Emotion is raw at the time we experience it so time must often pass before it is moderated and becomes a thing of beauty. Reflection is a key skill that excellent writers possess.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Electronic Treasure for Virginia Woolf Scholars and Common Readers

Amazon has an amazing offer in Kindle Store for an eBook titled: Virginia Woolf : Complete Works 8 novels, 3 'biographies', 46 short stories, 606 essays, 1 play, her diary and some letters (Annotated). This is available at the discounted and unbelievable price of $3.47 USD.

You can order below:

It includes the following works:


The Voyage Out (1915) Night and Day (1919) Jacob’s Room (1922) Mrs. Dalloway (1925) To the Lighthouse (1927) The Waves (1931) The Years (1937) Between the Acts (1941)


Orlando: a biography (1928) Flush: a biography (1933) Roger Fry: a biography (1940)


Monday or Tuesday (1921) A Haunted House, and other short stories (1944) Mrs Dalloway’s Party (1973) The Complete Shorter Fiction (1985)


The Common Reader I (1925) A Room of One’s Own (1929) On Being Ill (1930) The London Scene (1931) The Common Reader II (1932) Three Guineas (1938) The Death of the Moth, and other essays (1942) The Moment, and other essays (1947) The Captain’s Death Bed, and other essays (1950) Granite and Rainbow (1958) Books and Portraits (1978) Women And Writing (1979) 383 Essays from newspapers and magazines (see update v.3.0)


A Writer’s Diary (1953) Moments of Being (1976) The Diary Vols. 1–5 (1977-84) (see updates v.4.0, v.5.0, and v.6.0) The Letters Vols. 3,4+5 (1977-79) (see update v.7.0 and v.8.0) The Letters of V.W. and Lytton Strachey (1956) (see update v.8.0)


Freshwater: A Comedy (both versions) (1976)

This resource makes it so easy to access Woolf's writings and as an eBook you can have it with you all of the time.

Happy Reading


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Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf: A Public of Two

Angela Smith has an interesting entry on the Oxford Scholarship Online web site ( the abstract is shown below:
Abstract Long after the death of Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923), Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) described being haunted by her in dreams. Through detailed comparative readings of their fiction, letters, and diaries, this book explores the intense affinity between the two writers. Their particular inflection of modernism is interpreted through their shared experience as ‘threshold people’, familiar with the liminal, for each of them a zone of transition and habitation. Writing at a time when the First World War and changing attitudes to empire problematized boundaries and definitions of foreignness, this book shows how the fiction of both Mansfield and Woolf is characterised by moments of disorienting suspension in which the perceiving consciousness sees the familiar made strange, and the domestic made menacing.
As a New Zealander I have a keen interest in the writings of both Katherine Mansfield (another New Zealander)and Virginia Woolf. Woolf concurred that the only writer whose writing she would like to be able to emulate was that of Katherine Mansfield. Both women were pushing the edges of Victorian and post Victorian society in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I had not seen the mention to her being haunted by KM in her dreams before.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lock up your Libraries - Virginia Woolf

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Even though we can close all the libraries, we can not lock up the freedom of the human mind. Because books can influence thought, book-burners and censors try to eviscerate our libraries, supposedly for our own good.

Books open minds and spread the teaching of a true education. No wonder the politicians try to dumb us down with modern "bread and circuses".

Long live the Library, Long live the freedom of the mind. Thank you Virginia for seeding the thought. Your words live on...

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Virginia Woolf on Life

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” ― Virginia Woolf

While the temptation is always there to avoid life and have a peaceful existence it will stultify your enjoyment of life. Woolf had every reason to seek peace. She suffered from mental illness for most of her life, and peace was often elusive.

Thankfully for us, her readers, she did not become a recluse, but she experienced life and all of its vicissitudes and survived. Like Jane Austen before her, Virginia Woolf had a eye for the minutiae of daily life which makes her writing piquant.

In fact the place where she did find peace was in her writing and in her deep relationship with her husband Leonard.

Her writing are full of detail and wisdom and we are fortunate that these writings have been treasured and well preserved.

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Ralph Thompson on The Years - New York Times

"Mrs. Woolf is nearest perfection when dealing with the past or with a present that has already begun to lose itself in the past. Then she is near perfection indeed." Ralph Thompson

Ralph Thompson, book reviewer for The New York Times writing on one of her novels, "The Years," made the above quote. The past is stable and we have had time to consider it's effects and ramifications. Woolf was a master writer about the past, yet this remarkable writer, was at the avant garde of modernism along with Eliot and Joyce. Her crystallized writing is as crisp today as it was at the time it was written and it allows us a fascinating view into life at the end of the Victorian era.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mrs Woolf's Body Found

April 19, 1941

Mrs. Woolf's Body Found

Verdict of Suicide Is Returned in Drowning of Novelist


LONDON, April 19 -- Dr. E. F. Hoare, Coroner at New Haven, Sussex, gave a verdict of suicide today in the drowning of Virginia Woolf, novelist who had been bombed from her home twice. Her body was recovered last night from the River Ouse near her week-end house at Lewes.

The Coroner read a note that Mrs. Woolf had left for her husband, Leonard.

"I have a feeling I shall go mad," the note read. "I cannot go on any longer in these terrible times. I hear voices and cannot concentrate on my work. I have fought against it but cannot fight any longer. I owe all my happiness to you but cannot go on and spoil your life."

Her husband testified that Mrs. Woolf had been depressed for a considerable length of time. When their Bloomsbury home was wrecked by a bomb some time ago, Mr. and Mrs. Woolf moved to another near by. It, too, was made uninhabitable by a bomb, and the Woolfs then moved to their weekend home in Sussex.

Mrs. Woolf, who was 59, vanished March 28.

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Virginia Woolf Believed Dead - 3

New York Times

Long Noted As Novelist

Mrs. Woolf's First Work Was Published in 1915

Mrs. Virginia Woolf was a granddaughter of Thackeray and a relative of the Darwins, Symondses and Stracheys. She grew up in a household that Stevenson, Ruskin, Lowell, Hardy, Meredith and other writers visited. As the wife of Leonard Woolf and the sister-in-law of Clive Bell, Mrs. Woolf had a literary circle of her own.

She was the author of fifteen books of high quality, in which the critics met up with at least four different kinds of thinking and writing. This led to her being characterized as "the multiple Mrs. Woolf."

In "Three Guineas" Mrs. Woolf replied to the question of a barrister: "How in your opinion are we to prevent war?" The keynote of this work was her remark that the inquiry must be unique in the history of human correspondence, "since when before has an educated man asked a woman how in her opinion war can be prevented."

Of one of her novels, "The Years," Ralph Thompson, book reviewer of The New York Times, said: "Mrs. Woolf is nearest perfection when dealing with the past or with a present that has already begun to lose itself in the past. Then she is near perfection indeed."

When not working on novels and longer essays, Mrs. Woolf frequently wrote critical articles for literary magazines, entering a number of literary controversies. One of her last tilts was with book reviewers in December, 1939. She contended it was a "public duty" to abolish the book reviewer, holding that reviews were so hurriedly written that the reviewer was unable to deal adequately with the books his editor sent him. Mrs. Woolf declared no Act of Parliament would be necessary to abolish the reviewer, contending that the tendencies she deplored would soon condition him out of existence.

Commenting editorially on Mrs. Woolf's description of Augustine Birrell, as a "born writer," The New York Times in August, 1930, described Mrs. Woolf as "one of the most subtle, original and modern of moderns, herself a born writer." Mrs. Woolf's published works began with "The Voyage" in 1915, followed by "Night and Day" in 1919, "Monday or Tuesday" in 1921, "Jacob's Room" in 1922, "The Common Reader," and "Mrs. Dalloway" in 1925; "To the Lighthouse," in 1927; "Orlando" and "A Room of One's Own" in 1929; "The Waves," 1931; "The Common Reader, Second Series," in 1932; "Flush," in 1933; "The Years," in 1937; "Three Guineas," in 1938, and "Roger Fry, A Biography," in 1940.

All her education was received at home from private tutors. Her favorite recreation was printing, in which she joined with her husband, Leonard Woolf, novelist and essayist, founder of the Hogarth Press and former literary editor of The Nation.

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Virginia Woolf Believed Dead - 2

It was reported her hat and cane had been found on the bank of the Ouse River. Mrs. Woolf had been ill for some time. The Woolfs ran the Hogarth Press from 1917 to 1938, when Mrs. Woolf retired to devote her time to writing. Her last book was "Roger Fry, a Biography," published last year.

Mrs. Woolf was born in 1882. She was a daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen. James Russell Lowell was her godfather.

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Virginia Woolf Believed Dead - 1

Virginia Woolf Believed Dead

By Special Cable to The New York Times

LONDON, April 2--Mrs. Virginia Woolf, novelist and essayist, who has been missing from her home since last Friday, is believed to have been drowned at Rodwell, near Lewes, where she and her husband, Leonard Sidney Woolf, had a country residence. Mr. Woolf said tonight:

"Mrs. Woolf is presumed to be dead. She went for a walk last Friday, leaving a letter behind, and it is thought she has been drowned. Her body, however, has not been recovered."

I came across this article and I will share in parts as it includes news over several days and an obituary.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Virginia Woolf - Not an Early Coherent Speaker

As a child, it took Woolf longer than usual to begin speaking in coherent sentences (

One suspects that there was so much going on in her mind that she had difficulty letting it out and putting the words in the right order. As an adult she was known for her pressured speech when excited and this may have been part of her illness.

I guess the modern term would be having a mind dump. When you have so much to release it can be hard to control the flow.

But this rich mind full of genius and creativity gave us so much for which we should be very thankful.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Virginia Woolf - an Original Home Schooler

Born of free thinking parents, Virginia Woolf had an unconventional education mostly provided by her father, an ex Cambridge don. She was given the freedom of his library and as can be seen from her early journals she made good use of it. Her reading was eclectic and prolific, a habit she kept up for her whole life. Her creativity and breakthroughs in stream of consciousness development were no doubt nurtured by her home schooling, which gave her great freedom.

I wonder how many potential great writers like Virginia Woolf have had their creative flame crushed and extinguished by our school system that caters to conformance and one size fits all?

I am thankful that her parents had the foresight to home school her and let her creativity blossom.

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