Archive for December 17th, 2015

A three-page letter written by Virginia Woolf to Philip Morrell will be auctioned this week by British auction house Dominic Winter Auctioneers.

Woolf Morrell Letter

Pages 2 and 3 of Woolf’s letter to Morrell (photo from The Guardian)

According to an article in The Guardian by Alison Flood, the letter, written on blue paper with black ink and dated July 12, 1940, is an “exciting” piece which is set to fetch between $1,500 and $2,000:

Chris Albury at Dominic Winter, which has a guide price of £1,000-£1,500 on the letter, said that “any letter from Virginia Woolf is exciting, and there is always a mystique concerning any that might illuminate the tangled relationships of any of the Bloomsbury group and Garsington Manor set”. The Morrells lived at Garsington Manor in the 1920s, with Woolf a regular visitor.

woolf and philip morrell

Photo of Woolf and Philip Morrell in 1926 shot by Lady Ottoline Morrell

Philip Morrell
was a British Liberal politician who was married to literary hostess and muse Lady Ottoline Morrell. The Morrells both had close friendships with Virginia, and both expressed amorous feelings for her throughout their friendships.

In the letter, written eight months before her suicide, Woolf responds to news of Philip’s illness and urges him to “go on living.” From The Guardian:

“My dear Philip, I was so glad to get your letter,” writes Woolf, “Indirectly I’d heard of your illness, and was wanting more news. You must take up your lodging on the ground floor, and go on living. Far too many of my friends have given that up lately.”

She goes on to tell him that she is living in Sussex; the letter was written on 12 July, shortly after the start of the Battle of Britain, and Woolf says that she is “exposed to raids, but in the air and with flowers, rooks, gulls, and our lovely view”.

Woolf letter to philip closing lines

Photo of the last lines of the letter (photo from The Guardian)

Dominic Winter Auctioneers provides a description of the letter:

Autograph letter signed ‘Virginia Woolf’, Monks House, Rodmell, Lewes, 12 July [1940], to Philip [Morrell], glad to have had his letter having indirectly heard of his illness and wanting more news, telling him to take up lodging on the ground floor, ‘and go on living. Far too many of my friends have given that up lately. I am so glad you liked that little article. In fact, Hary-o herself isn’t a patch on some of those great ladies – for example, her cousin Lady Lyttelton; so I picked out Selina [Trimmer] by way of making a story of it. I agree: there’s a richness about the Pagan word entirely lacking in the Puritan… ‘, telling how they are living mostly down here in Sussex, ‘exposed to raids, but in the air and with flowers, rooks, gulls, and our lovely view’, saying that they do go up to London every other week and asking to come round one evening, the final paragraph enquiring on the latest of his memoir or sketch of Ottoline [Morrell], 3 pages, black ink on blue paper, lightly creased where folded, 8vo

View the auction catalog for more information on the auction and letter.

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