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Archive for September, 2020

Here are links to a few resources of interest to Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury aficianadoes:

  • On BBC Radio 4’s “Great Lives”: Listen to why James Graham is inspired by John Maynard Keynes, along with expert analysis by economist Linda Yueh.
  • In the LA Times: Read a quote from Woolf about writers’ neglect of food.
  • In Issue XXXVII of Piano Nobile’s InSight: Read about Virginia Woolf’s relationship with artist Mark Gertler.
  • A foundation named after Virginia Woolf: “In Woolf’s Words,” by the Hong-Kong-based company Woke Up Like This. WULT was recently heavily criticized for naming another shade in its “Face Daubs” line after Anne Frank. The company took it off the market.

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What color were Virginia Woolf’s eyes? That has turned out to be a puzzling question that has me still searching for the answer, while begging forgiveness for the pun.

“Jane Austen’s Book Club” puzzle by eeBoo, which depicts Woolf (front, far right, as a blue-eyed blonde)

The question occurred to me after completing a 1,000-piece eeBoo puzzle titled “Jane Austen’s Book Club.” Woolf, along with Austen, Mary Shelley, George Eliot, and Zora Neale Huston, are pictured sipping tea, alongside some of their famous titles.

Wasn’t she a brown-eyed brunette?

The puzzle was fun to put together and I was happy to add it to my collection of Woolf puzzles. I am even planning to frame it. But it left me wondering why artist Jennifer Orkin Lewis pictured Woolf as a blue-eyed blonde.

All of the paintings and photos I have seen of Woolf depict her with dark hair. And although her father, Leslie Stephen, is said to have had steely blue eyes, I have never seen her described that way.

In the famous color photos of Woolf by Gisele Freund, taken in her Tavistock Square home in London just before World War II broke out in 1939, Woolf’s eyes appear to be brown. It was the last portrait taken of Woolf and the only one in color. I have also seen Woolf’s eyes described as grey, although that source does not seem reliable. But never blue.

So I have emailed the artist to ask for some insight into her color choices. I’ll let you know what I hear.

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“Thinking is my fighting,” wrote feminist icon Virginia Woolf in her 1940 essay “Thoughts On Peace in an Air Raid.” That is more powerful than ever today, as we honor and remember another feminist icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away two days ago, on Sept. 18.

Known as Notorious RBG, tributes to the Supreme Court justice continue to pour in from around the world.

May we all be notorious in her honor.

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In All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf, Katharine Smyth links her own story with Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.

Published last year, Smyth’s memoir tells the story of her own family, of discovering her parents as people, and of her father’s alcoholism and death. She does it all while weaving in literary criticism of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.

By doing so, critics say she creates the perfect medium for reflecting on grief, loss, and marriage, on the way family morphs as you age, on memory and the difficulties of trying to understand who your parents are, and who they once were. Wow. That’s an armload to take on in one book.

The memoir’s title comes from the poem “Luriana Lurilee” by Charles Elton that Woolf references in To the Lighthouse.

That Gordon ties Woolf’s semi-autobiographical novel to her memoir is quite fitting, as Woolf focused her work on her own parents in the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay.

This is a transcendent book, not a simple meditation on one woman’s loss, but a reflection on all of our losses, on loss itself, on how to remember and commemorate our dead. –  Charlotte Gordon, The Washington Post

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