Archive for the ‘Berg Collection’ Category

Maggie Gee

Maggie Gee

Here’s something to look forward to: Virginia Woolf in Manhattan by Maggie Gee. Telegram Books will publish the novel in September.

It imagines what might happen if Woolf came back to life today and appeared to a British writer researching Woolf’s manuscripts at the Berg Collection in the New York Public Library. Woolf scams Manhattan bookstores with “rare signed editions” and the two travel to Turkey, where Woolf crashes an international conference on herself.

Virginia Woolf in Manhattan is a sparkling and profound novel about female friendship and rivalry, and how, amid the madness of modernity, we can begin to make sense of our lives,” says the blurb on the publisher’s website.

Gee is the author of eleven acclaimed novels, including The White Family (shortlisted for the orange and imPac prizes), My Cleaner and My Driver, and a memoir, My Animal Life. she is a Fellow and vice-president of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University.

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My two-week stint doing research at the NYPL Berg Collection is over, and letters and rare books took up the last two days of my Short-Term Research Fellowship on the topic of the Bloomsbury pacifists.

The letters were written by Vanessa Bell and Lytton Strachey to a variety of correspondents, including Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Duncan Grant and Nick Bagenal. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read them in their original form, taking time to decipher the usually elegant handwriting of the letter writers and savoring the idea of a world where friends and colleagues posted missives to each other on a regular, if not daily, basis.

It was special to be able to touch and handle papers nearly 100 years old that belonged to writers and artists I have read so much about and admire so greatly.

It was also invaluable to have access to such rare books as Clive Bell’s Civilization (1928), Julian Bell: Essays, Poems and Letters (1938) and David Garnett’s A Rabbit in the Air: Notes from a Diary Kept While Learning to Handle an Aeroplane (1932).

So while I knew that my research would come to an end, I felt sad when it did. I even felt a little lost when I turned the last page of Garnett’s book, realized I had no more documents or books in my queue and knew that I would soon be on my way back to my regular everyday life in Ohio.

I will miss the grandeur of the NYPL’s Schwartzman building, the luxurious silence of the Berg reading room, the helpful friendliness of librarians Anne Garner and Rebecca Filner, the expertise of Curator Isaac Gewirtz and the technical expertise of a regular volunteer and Yeats scholar named Neal who eagerly came to my aid when my laptop refused to reboot after loading some troublesome and unwanted Microsoft updates.

I hope all of those mentioned above will consider this an official public thank you for helping me have such a valuable experience.

Here are links to past posts about my research at the Berg and the Morgan Library & Museum:

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Woolf Studies Annual, Volume 17, will be published next month. It will feature information about the newly discovered proof copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.

Dr. Isaac Gewirtz, curator of the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library, has an article in the volume that discusses the variations between the proof copy and the first edition of Woolf’s feminist classic. An appendix of the variations is also included in the volume.

Details of the contents and the opportunity to place an early order at the discounted price of $32 may be found at the Pace UP website.

ISBN 978-1-935625-05-6
266 Pages

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The New York Public Library is celebrating Virginia Woolf with a three-day festival of lectures in October. They are free and open to the public.

Here is the schedule:

  • Oct. 19, 4 p.m. – Jean Mills, “Goddesses and Ghosts: Virginia Woolf and Jane Ellen Harrison In Conversation”
  • Oct. 20, 4 p.m. – Isaac Gerwirtz, “When Is a Printed Book as Good as a Manuscript?: The Proof Copy of A Room of One’s Own
  • Oct. 21, 4 p.m. – Anne Fernald, “On Traffic Lights and Full Stops: Editing Mrs. Dalloway

Mills and Fernald are scholars in residence at the New York Public Library’s Wertheim Study. Gerwirtz is curator of the library’s Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.

All three lectures will be held in the South Court Auditorium of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

The New York Public Library maintains two study centers in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building: the Frederick Lewis Allen Room and the Wertheim Study. Both are for qualified scholars needing intensive and long-term use of the collections of the library.

For more information, contact researchstudyrooms@nypl.org.

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