Archive for August, 2023

In August of 1923 Virginia Woolf was in the middle of writing the novel that would eventually be published in 1925 under the title Mrs. Dalloway. After writing in her diary that she was “battling for ever so long” with the novel — tentatively titled The Hours — on the following day, she spelled out the stream of consciousness technique she planned to use in her groundbreaking work.

In this oft-quoted passage written on Aug. 30, 1923, she describes the process as digging out “beautiful caves” behind her characters. This is what she wrote:

You see, I’m thinking furiously about Reading & Writing. I have no time to describe my plans. I should say a good deal about The Hours, & my discovery; how I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters; I think that gives exactly what I want; humanity, humour, depth. The idea is that the caves shall connect, & each comes to daylight at the present moment — Dinner! –Diary 2, 263.

Later in the year, on Oct. 15, she describes the process a bit differently:

It took me a year’s groping to discover what I call my tunnelling process, by which I tell the past by installments, as I have need of it. – A Writer’s Diary, 60.


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One hundred years ago today, on Saturday, 29 August 1923, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary about the novel she was writing. Originally titled The Hours, it would be published in 1925 as Mrs. Dalloway.

I’ve been battling for ever so long with ‘The Hours’, which is proving one of my most tantalising & refractory of books. Parts are so bad, parts so good; I’m much interested; can’t stop making it up yet — yet. What is the matter with it? But I want to freshen myself, not deaden myself, so will say no more. Only I must note this odd symptom; a conviction that I shall go on, see it through, because it interests me to write it. — Diary 2, 262.

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Literature Cambridge starts is fourth Woolf Season soon. It includes one live online lecture and seminar per month from 9 September until 8 June 2024.

Sessions are at 6-8 p.m. British Time on Saturdays or Sundays.

Lecture list

  • Saturday 9 September, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 1: Freedom in The Voyage Out (1915), with Karina Jakubowicz.
  • Sunday 22 October, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 2: War Trauma and Loss of Freedom in Mrs Dalloway (1925), with Trudi Tate.
  • Saturday 11 November, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 3: Women and Freedom in To the Lighthouse (1927), with Alison Hennegan.
  • Saturday 9 December, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 4: Women’s Freedoms through The Years (1937), with Ellie Mitchell.
  • Saturday 6 January 2024, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 5: To the Lighthouse (1927), Art and the Freedom of Movement, with Kabe Wilson.
  • Sunday 4 February 2024, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 6: A Room of One’s Own (1929): Intelligence and Intellectual Freedom, with Natasha Periyan.
  • Saturday 23 March 2024, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 7: Shakespeare’s Sister and Creative Freedom in A Room of One’s Own (1929), with Varsha Panjwani.
  • Saturday 6 April 2024, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 8: Freedom of Thought in Woolf’s Essays, with Beth Rigel Daugherty.
  • Saturday 4 May 2024, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 9: Freedom of The Waves (1931), with Angela Harris.
  • Saturday 8 June 2024, 6 p.m.
    Lecture 10: “The Essence of Freedom” in Three Guineas (1938), with Claire Davison.

Get a discount

A discount is offered for those who book the full season in advance. It allows 10 sessions for the price of nine.

Karina Jakubowicz lecturing for Literature Cambridge

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A Sept. 22 Zoom event featuring a roundtable of Woolf scholars, colleagues, and friends will be held to celebrate the life and work of Louise DeSalvo.

Louise DeSalvo

Sponsored by the International Virginia Woolf Society near what would have been DeSalvo’s 81st birthday on Sept.27, the Sept. 22 event will be the third in a series of birthday celebrations and commemorations, which began in 2021.

More about the event

Time: 3 –4:30 p.m. EDT (New York); Noon –1:30 p.m. PDT (Los Angeles); 8–9:30 p.m. BST (London)

The event will run like a conference roundtable. Each presenter will speak for about 5–7 minutes. Those who knew DeSalvo might share memories of their interactions with her. Those who knew her primarily through her writing will share thoughts and reflections on her impact on Woolf studies—and beyond.

After each participant speaks, the session will open to a general Q&A and discussion with all attendees. Everyone attending will be free to ask questions or to share memories or reflections of their own.

This roundtable aims to give attendees a fresh and full sense of DeSalvo’s contributions to Woolf studies as well as a sense of her impact and legacy (personal and professional) on this field and on all those committed to the literary arts.

How to join

IVWS members will be sent a Zoom link via email ahead of the event. If you are not a member of the society, you may join. Or you may reach out to Benjamin Hagen, president of the society, at benjamin.hagen@usd.edu, to express interest in the event, and you will receive the Zoom link.

About Louise DeSalvo

DeSalvo was professor of English and creative writing at Hunter College. She was the author of a number of books—Vertigo: A Memoir (1997), Breathless: An Asthma Journal (1997), Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives (2000), Crazy in the Kitchen: Food, Feuds and Forgiveness in an Italian American Family (2005), Chasing Ghosts: A Memoir of a Father, Gone to War (2015), and more.

But to many Woolfians, according to a post on the society blog, she is best known for her 1989 biography Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Her Life and Work as well as Virginia Woolf’s First Voyage: A Novel in the Making (1980), editions of Melymbrosia, and The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf (with Mitchell Leaska).

Previous event on YouTube

You can watch the first event on YouTube. It was presented by the New Jersey City University Center for the Arts and was hosted by Edvige Giunta and Donia Ayoub.


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Academic tomes are usually quite pricey. But today the good news is that The Oxford Handbook of Virginia Woolf is now available in paperback, bringing the price down to $50.

The book is edited by Anne Fernald, professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Fordham University. Its 39 original chapters written by internationally prominent scholars do the following:

  • Consider Woolf’s career chronologically and places her novels in the context of her life, world events, and the non-fiction she wrote alongside them to highlight the centrality of essay-writing and reviewing to her career
  • Assume her feminism and examines its many facets and broadens our vision of Woolf’s world beyond Bloomsbury by looking at her many circles of women friends, her engagement with women’s education and the suffrage movement, and the role of Hogarth Press in the larger context of publishing
  • Include a wide range of chapters on Woolf’s afterlives.

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