Archive for the ‘books’ Category

We all know the gender gap exists in the publishing world. For example, one study shows that books by female authors make up only a small percentage of collectible books priced at $500 or more. Nevertheless the work of Virginia Woolf is highly collectable. She is among the 10 most collectible female authors at AbeBooks.

Here is the list of the 10 most collectible female authors posted on the AbeBooks website:

  • Jane Austen
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Ayn Rand
  • Harper Lee
  • Agatha Christie
  • Mary Ann Evans/George Eliot
  • Beatrix Potte
  • Toni Morrison
  • Mary Shelley
  • J.K. Rowling

The data

AbeBooks.com analyzed a random sample of their sales for collectible books priced $500 or more. The company was dismayed to learn that only 4.8 percent of those books had been written by women.

“We had expected to see an imbalance but not one of such significance,” noted the website.

The reason for the imbalance is the long history of male privilege that gives men priority for the public sphere, including publishing, while women are relegated to the domestic sphere.

“There are simply fewer female authors of significance across the past 500 years of publishing. Many female writers wrote anonymously or privately published their work. Most simply did not even have the opportunity to become published authors,” according to AbeBooks.

Woolf broke the rules to become an important figure in modernist literature and feminism in general. Her novels –Mrs Dalloway(1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928) – are landmarks in 20th century literature. Her success is all the more remarkable since she struggled with mental illness for most of her lifeA Room of One’s Own (1929) might be her most important work, this essay argues that women writers need their own space in a literary world dominated by men. -AbeBooks

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Between 1975 and 1980, Hogarth Press/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich published six volumes of Virginia Woolf’s letters.

A new collection of letters from Virginia Woolf is in the works, thanks to Stuart N. Clarke and Stephen Barkway. The volume will be published by Edinburgh University Press.

For 25 years, Clarke and Barkway have been searching for previously unpublished letters from Virginia Woolf and including them in the pages of the Virginia Woolf Bulletin, which is issued free to members of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, of which both men have served as officers.

Now the pair has put out a call for any letters from Woolf  that did not make it into the six-volume collection of her letters published by Hogarth Press/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich between 1975-80.

The query Clarke and Barkway sent to society members

“Members of the VWSGB will be aware that, over the past 25 years, Stuart N. Clarke and I have been including previously unpublished letters from Virginia Woolf in the pages of the Virginia Woolf Bulletin.

“We will be collecting these, and many others that did not make it into the six-volume collection of her letters (Hogarth Press/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975-80), for a collection to be published by Edinburgh University Press.

“We’re hoping to have almost finished by the end of the year, and to submit the ‘manuscript’ next summer.  We have been allowed to include the ‘new’ letters in ‘Congenial Spirits’.  The book will be a substantial tome.

“If any of you have any such letters, or copies of them, or know where they are, then we should love to hear from you.

“Many of the letters have been published in whole or in part, in auction catalogues, books and articles (e.g. ‘Some [Nineteen] New Woolf Letters’, ed. Joanne Trautmann Banks, Modern Fiction Studies 30:2 (Summer 1984): 175–202; in the Virginia Woolf Miscellany (43 & 55); Woolf Studies Annual (1, 7 & 8), but of course we are hunting for copies of the originals.

“We have checked all the institutions with substantial Woolf holdings, those who are mentioned as owners in the six volumes, and those listed in the annual ‘Woolf Studies Annual’ under ‘Guide to Library Special Collections.  There may be obscure (from a Woolfian point of view) institutions that have the odd letter and that we are not aware of.

“We are frustrated that we have by no means managed to track down all the letters on the two lists of ‘too lates’ (1980; available on the VW CD-Rom, Berg M43 (search for “Nigel”)) and ‘too too lates’ (1984), compiled by Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann.  For example, what happened to the letters owned by Roger Fry’s daughter, Pamela Diamand?

“We realise that the minute the book goes to press, another letter or letters will pop up, but we are seeking help from you, in the hope that we will not miss too many.

Got info? Send it here

Information about Woolf letters can be sent to:  vwletters@btinternet.com

A previously unpublished etter from Virginia Woolf to Leonard Woolf published in the Virginia Woolf Bulletin No. 73, May 2023, p. 5


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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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I can’t take credit for these non-fiction Woolf sightings. That goes to Benjamin Hagen, president of the International Virginia Woolf Society, who posted them on Facebook.

From Ann Patchett

First comes Ann Patchett’s “Eudora Welty: An Introduction,” in which Patchett describes her encounters with Welty in writing and in person.

It begins with Woolf and with Welty’s foreword to To the Lighthouse (1927) and leads into a reflection on first encounters and later returns.

The piece is included in These Precious Days, a 2021 collection of Patchett’s essays.

From Brian Dillon

Second is critic and essayist Brian Dillon’s “Vagueness” in Affinities, just out in paperback (2023), which includes a chapter on the proto-modernist photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron, Woolf’s Victorian great-aunt.

Hagen wrote that he was “Surprised to find this lengthy essay on Julia Margaret Cameron, which begins with her stunning photograph of Julia Jackson (later Stephen), Virginia Woolf’s mother. Woolf gets some attention here too.”

Thanks for being on the lookout, Ben.

Ben Hagen’s Aug. 6, 2023, Woolf sightings Facebook post, complete with photos of pertinent pages from the two books he mentions.

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In his full-color graphic novella, Athos in America, Norwegian cartoonist Jason include the story “The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf,” a mash-up of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, told in reverse chronological order.

Described as the volume’s “most heartbreaking tale” and as the peak of the artist’s “love of classic cinema and genre-bending,” the story may be a disappointment as a Woolf sighting. That is because it connects with the film made from Edward Albee’s play rather than Woolf herself, either as an author or a person.

The 2012 volume also includes five other stories, with the  title story providing a prequel to Jason’s 2008 graphic novel,  The Last Musketeer.

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