Archive for June, 2009

Bleeding Heart SquareThe recent conference theme of  Woolf and the City stimulated a number of papers that discussed Virginia Woolf in the context of contemporary writers and their works, making comparisons and noting similarities and influences in authors that included A.S. Byatt, Grace Paley, Zadie Smith, Sandra Cisneros, Ian McEwan and Penelope Lively.

My own presentation, “Beyond the Icon: Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Fiction,” noted just shy of 20 novels and short stories from the 1980s to the present time that contain references to Woolf. But the list keeps growing, and it includes some unexpected sources.

While I’ve focused primarily on literary fiction, a friend’s summer reading is more eclectic, and she sent me the following “sighting” from a recently released mystery, Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor. Early in the novel, which takes place in 1934 London, Lydia leaves her husband and packs A Room of One’s Own in her bag.

“Lydia was reading A Room of One’s Own and feeling increasingly envious of Mrs. Woolf:  ‘My aunt…died by a fall from her horse while she was riding out to take the air in Bombay. The news of my legacy reached me one night about the same time that the act was passed that gave votes to women.  A solicitor’s letter fell into the post-box and when I opened it I found that she had left me five hundred pounds a year for ever. Of the two–the vote and the money–the money, I own, seemed infinitely the more important.’ Five hundred a year? The money shone like a mirage, a littering pile of gold, in Lydia’s mind. If a woman had that, she could do almost anything she wanted” (p. 36).

Read a review of the Taylor novel.

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Vara Neverow

Vara Neverow

If you are a follower of Blogging Woolf,  you may know that since the blog debuted nearly two years ago, I have been its only author.

That is about to change. Three Woolfians — each with a unique perspective — are joining the blog as contributors. They include:

Dr. Vara S. Neverow, English professor at Southern Connecticut University, managing editor of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany and editor with Mark Hussey of several collections, including Virginia Woolf: Emerging Perspectives, Virginia Woolf: Themes and Variations and Virginia Woolf Miscellanies. Vara teaches courses about Woolf and feminist theory.

Alice Lowe
Alice Lowe

Alice Lowe, common reader,  Woolf conference presenter and contributor to the Virginia Woolf Miscellany and the Virginia Woolf Society Bulletin. Alice, who lives in San Diego, Calif., has a special interest in Woolf in contemporary fiction and — like Woolf — is an avid walker.

Megan Branch

Megan Branch

Megan Branch, sophomore English major at Fordham University and publicity intern for Woolf and the City and the Oxford University Press Blog, where she posted about this year’s Woolf conference. Megan, a New York City transplant who sometimes longs for the warm climate and open spaces of her native Florida, is a huge fan of  Twitter and has a blog of her own.

I am looking forward to reading their contributions — and I hope you will follow along as Vara, Alice and Megan add their individual voices to Blogging Woolf.

Now I invite you to add your voice to the blog as well :

  • Add your comment to any post by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” link at the bottom of a post
  • Become a contributor by sending an e-mail to Blogging Woolf. Just click on the e-mail link in the sidebar on the right.

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EXP-ELLESCENTREPOMPIDOU2The Centre Pompidou in Paris is presenting elles@centrepompidou, an interdisciplinary exhibit featuring more than 500 works of women artists from the 20th century to the present.

Part of the exhibit, which is designed to take an in-depth look at the place women occupy in culture, is named after Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.  It includes the work of artists who explore the idea of private space, mental projections and exhibition space.

Artists included are Dorothea Tanning, Tatiana Trouvé, Charlotte Perriand and Sophie Calle.

Read more about the exhibit, which runs through May 24, 2010.

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essaysofvirginiawoolf12Anyone wondering when The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Volume VI will be out in print may be interested in the following news from editor Stuart N. Clarke.

  • Volume VI is currently in the hands of the Random House copy-editor, and the estimated publication date is January 2011.
  • There will be an Appendix in Volume VI of Additions and Corrections to Volumes I–V, mainly restricted to identifying sources of ‘recalcitrant’ quotations and listing errors in Woolf’s texts.
  • The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Volume 5: 1929 – 1932, edited by Clarke, is available now at a cost of £30. To order a copy, click here. Read the review in the Times Literary Supplement.

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Beach at St. Ives, Cornwall

Porthminster Beach

Virginia Woolf’s good name has been used to sell many things. Now it is being used to sell 76 acres of beachfront property in Cornwall.

Upton Towans beach, near Hayle, is up for auction with a guide price of £50,000, and it is being billed as “the location for Virginia Woolf’s 1927 work To The Lighthouse.”

Well, not exactly. At least as far as I can determine.

Upton Towans beach is situated in the northeast of St. Ives Bay and is known for its surfing. Virginia and her family frequented Porthminster beach on the southern edge of St. Ives, which is a longtime favorite of swimmers, sunbathers and picnickers instead.

If you travel to St. Ives by train, Porthminster beach is the crescent-shaped slice of white sand and blue sea you encounter when you step off the platform. It is a lovely spot, easily reached by foot from Talland House, which Virginia and her family visited each summer until their mother Julia died in May 1895.

remembering st ivesIn Virginia’s time at St. Ives, a path led from Talland House through Primrose Valley, an area filled with gardens and orchards, to the beach. There the Stephen family swam, picnicked and explored the rock pools, according to Virginia Woolf & Vanessa Bell: Remembering St. Ives by Marion Dell and Marion Whybrow.

Their book, published in 2003 by Tabb House Publishers, is a real find for anyone who wants to learn more about Virginia’s favorite spot in Cornwall.


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