Archive for March, 2013

On this, the 62nd anniversary of her death, common readers and writers around the globe remember Virginia Woolf, in words as well as music:

I am remembering Virginia Woolf today, as are many. She died too soon, but by her own choice. What great works she may have written, we will never know. But her influence will be felt for centuries. I know that reading her novels, diaries, letters, and works written about her, by those who knew her, influenced my life in numerous ways. I became a college English instructor, and have also written an op-ed column, and freelance articles, and always in the back of my mind, I thought of Virginia and her struggles and triumphs, in a time when women were supposed to get married and be quiet. RIP dear friend.  – Carol Butler Jensen on the Virginia Woolf Facebook Page
A Room of Her Own’s 6th Gift of Freedom winner and finalists reflect on the anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s death, a day on which we celebrate the meaning of her life and her work.

Gift of Freedom Winner Diane Gilliam, Poetry

“It’s not a simple thing to be on the side of life.  There’s no naivete to it, it’s not a wish to return to the simplicity, the unambiguous peace of the Garden.   “[T]he beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder,” Woolf says near the beginning of A Room of One’s Own, locating the beauty of the world right on the fine line between love and grief.  To hold the balance of those two opposites, this is my version of being on the side of life, to know that both things are always true even though on any given day one or the other may be out of sight.  For me, that’s wholeness, presence, sanity.” Read More of Diane’s Essay “Two Edges”

Genre Finalist Florencia Ramirez, Creative Nonfiction

“I am grateful to Virginia Woolf’s legacy that spills beyond the constraints of her years lived. The long string of words, sentences, stories and books she wrote in her lifetime continue to breathe with new vitality.  They spread and take new forms; like a writer’s retreat in Ghost Ranch or a woman inspired to write her own stories in a room of her own. Each act reminds us that Virginia Woolf hasn’t died; she became a river.”  Read More of Florencia’s Essay“Virginia Woolf and a River”

Genre Finalist Ire’ne Lara Silva, Fiction

“How do we define ‘tragedy’? How do we define ‘victory’? Virginia Woolf was 59 years old when she took her own life. She chose the time and manner of her passing. For how many years—how many decades—was she able to keep the demons at bay with her creative work?”Can we ask for more than that? To outrun the darkness and wrestle the monsters with all our might long enough to say what we most needed to say the way we needed to say it? To leave a legacy of work and thought and aesthetics that has influenced and will influence so many writers, so many women?”  Read More of Ire’ne’s Essay “The Dream:  Reflections on the Anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s Suicide”

Today’s responses from readers of Woolf

Archival materials

Social media responses

Below is a March 28, 2013, post on the Virginia Woolf Author Facebook page, along with comments added in response. Following the Facebook offerings is a selection of the numerous tweets in several languages resulting from a “Virginia Woolf” search on Twitter on March 28, 2013:

Virginia Woolf Author Facebook post

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Susan Sellers, author of the novel Vanessa and Virginia, is spreading the news via Facebook that the Moving Stories Theatrevanessa & virginia play production of the eponymous play based on her novel is sold-out for its current three-week run.

Written by Dr. Elizabeth Wright, the play is on stage at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London, through April 14.

Read more about it — and Susan Sellers:

A screen shot of Susan Sellers' Facebook post about "Vanessa and Virginia"

A screen shot of Susan Sellers’ Facebook post about “Vanessa and Virginia”

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Traveling with Virginia Woolf

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Here is a homespun song about Virginia Woolf. It’s by Nicole, and it’s simply titled “Virginia.”

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It’s no surprise to have Virginia Woolf’s name come up in discussions of Jane Austen and vice versa. Austen is, of course, one of Jane Austen Ruined my Lifethe foremothers held up in A Room of One’s One and in a number of Woolf essays. My pleasure is in finding Woolf sightings in fiction, the more obscure the better, but it came as a complete surprise when she appeared in Beth Pattillo’s Jane Austen Ruined My Life.

This charming romp follows the adventures of Emma Grant, an American university professor and Austen specialist. Following her divorce and the loss of her teaching position, she goes to England in search of Austen’s missing letters, the ones her sister Cassandra supposedly burned after her death. She’s wooed by the “Formidables,” a secret society of devoted Janeites, who entice her with a few sample letters and send her on a sort of Austenish scavenger hunt to prove she’s worthy of their cache.

At Austen’s house in Chawton, Emma sees a little table and chair in front of the sitting room window—it’s where Austen wrote. She observes that, “In spite if all the distractions, she’d created her masterpieces with nothing more than paper, pen, and ink. Virginia Woolf was famous for saying that any woman who wanted to be a writer needed to have five hundred pounds a year and a room of her own. Austen had possessed neither of those things, and yet somehow she had outshone authors with far more worldly advantages.”

In all this she also has to deal with a couple of dishy and attentive suitors vying for her affections and inserting themselves into the mystery. The outlandishness of it all reminds me of the movie “An Unmarried Woman,” in which the betrayed wife, Jill Clayburgh, dashwood-sisters-2011-w200has immediate consolation from the likes of Alan Bates. Oh sure, just like real life, huh?

But I won’t quibble. The book was delightful and well written, a perfect weekend escape. Now I’m tempted to track down Pattillo’s other Austen novels–Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart and The Dashwood Sisters Tell All both continuing the successful formula of blending literary mystery with contemporary stories.

Maybe I’ll be rewarded with more Woolf sightings.

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