Archive for the ‘Dreadnought Hoax’ Category

Today is Halloween, the perfect time to take a look at an infographic created by Essay Mama that depicts famous authors in costume. You’ll see Susan Sontag dressed as an adorable Teddy Bear and Colette as a cat, her favorite animal.

You’ll also see Virginia Woolf costumed as an Abyssinian prince for the famous Dreadnought Hoax. Below is a screenshot of the Woolf bit.

Woolf in costume

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This week’s Woolf sightings use a Virginia Woolf quote to justify recommending a good dinner as an excellent Valentine’s Day tribute (# 7, 25), cite Woolf as the inspiration for the song “Piece by Piece” by Charleston (#41), and include multiple mentions of the new letter for sale that discusses the Dreadnought Hoax (#35-38). Read on for these and more.

  1. Emeli Sandé: Our Version of Events – review, The Guardian
    Even fewer declare Virginia Woolf as an influence and fewer still have a giant tattoo of Frida Kahlo down one arm. There is such a great deal to commend singer Emeli Sandé. If her peroxide quiff stands visually for Sandé’s unconventionality,
  2. ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ 38 Special, Three Dog Night, Tulsa Golf Expo, Tulsa World
    with performances of “William and Judith,” a what-if story by playwright Cody Daigle that re-imagines the creation of “The Tempest” using a hypothetical theory proposed by Virginia Woolf that Shakespeare had an equally creative sister named Judith.
  3. Playhouse Tulsa takes Shakespeare to new levels with repertory, Tulsa World
    Cody Daigle’s “William and Judith,” after all, is a highly imaginative take on the creation of Shakespeare’s final play – one that involves the playwright’s mythical sister, Judith, a character the writer Virginia Woolf dreamed up to make a few points
  4. New play ‘William and Judith’ inspired by Shakespeare story, Tulsa World
    What if, as Virginia Woolf stated in her essay “A Room of One’s Own,” William Shakespeare had a sister named Judith? And what if Judith was her brother’s equal in temperament, intelligence and creativity? And what if Judith shows up on her brother’s
  5. Black and white in colour, Hindustan Times
    “It was a fine time to be a Mumbai garbage trader,” Abdul would think, just as his middle-aged neighbour Asha, whose daughter went to college and “by-hearted” Virginia Woolf and William Congreve at home, thought that the moment was opportune to employ
  6. Which writer taught me most about love? The Guardian In Freud’s rhetorical ploys, he’s always pitting himself against creative writers, which is why Nabokov and Virginia Woolf, for instance, took the bait and bristled accordingly. I first read Freud’s Contributions to the Psychology of Love and bits of
  7. Dolce Sapori, Calgary Herald
    The menus at Dolce Sapori quote Virginia Woolf: ” Once cannot think well, love well or sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Amen to that. Dolce is open for dinner only, Tuesday through Saturday.
  8. A hard bargain University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily
    As Virginia Woolf was fond of saying, the experience of higher education affords a rare opportunity to stand back from our civilization and ask tough questions about it. If you find it wanting, you have the freedom to imagine it differently and boldly
  9. Exhibition: Shelf Lives, Varsity Online
    At the back of the room is an original manuscript written by Virginia Woolf. She has a small, characteristic scrawl, and writing that slants up at the ends of her lines. It’s a treasure chest for literature lovers here. John Clare and John Donne stare
  10. Gallery’™s family affair, Sheffield Telegraph
    Examples here are Stanley Spencer’s The Lovers, with its jumble of limbs, and Vanessa Bell’s portrait of her sister, Virginia Woolf. “It’s very sensitive of the fact that she didn’t like being pictured and so it’s not highly detailed,” observes Briggs.
  11. The L Mag Questionnaire for Writer Types: Kate Zambreno, The L Magazine (blog)
    Virginia Woolf’s
    Mrs. Dalloway, Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star, Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher and Wonderful, Wonderful Times, Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School, Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,
  12. Tales of love and cous cous at Pea Souk, This is Cornwall
    With tales read by actors acclaimed at the du Maurier, Brighton and Chester Literary festivals from authors including Virginia Woolf, Edna St Vincent Millay and Kate Chopin, you’ll be treated to some frightening, foolish and funny takes on love.
  13. Song and ecstasy, The News International
    Virginia Woolf
    in a haunting essay assures us that when the Most High is seated on His throne, to one side of Him will be Homer and to the other side Shakespeare. Our own poets cannot be too far away. Saigal and the great singers, and who knows the
  14. The Heresy of Love, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, The Independent
    She became a nun because, in those days, liberal convents provided the equivalent of Virginia Woolf’s “a Room of One’s Own” to women who wanted to give priority to their intellectual existence over marriage. And in a hideous, desolating twist,
  15. Nasty literary prize awarded, GlobalPost (blog)
    It is novelist Adam Mars-Jones for his sledgehammering of Michael Cunningham’s “By Nightfall” in the Observer newspaper Cunningham is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Hours” a modern take on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.
  16. Hollinghurst’s biographical ambitions, Spectator.co.uk (blog)
    These questions were considered last night, at the Oxford Centre for Life Writing, by two literary grandees from opposing sides of the issue: Hermione Lee, biographer of Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton, and Alan Hollinghurst, whose recent novel,
  17. John Patrick Organic Crafts a Beautiful Vision for Fall 2012 at New York …, Ecouterre
    however, to the work of 19th century British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, in particular “A Beautiful Vision, Julia Duckworth,” a carbon print of Cameron’s niece and goddaughter and the future mother of author Virginia Woolf.
  18. Culture 2 Go, Orlando Weekly
    The group left behind significant works of literature – Virginia Woolf, EM Forster, economist John Maynard Keynes and historian Lytton Strachey all spent writing holidays at the farm – whereas their painters are less well known, comprising a
  19. Her Version Of Events: Emeli Sandé Interviewed, The Quietus
    I was really made up to hear that one of your favourite books is by Virginia Woolf. What a fearsome writer, and perhaps someone who really isn’t known for her approachability or her simple clarity of prose. So what do you take from Virginia Woolf?
  20. When novelists reach the end of their stories, The Guardian
    Virginia Woolf
    ? Yup. Thomas Hardy? Sure enough. EM Forster? Saw the problem coming and headed it off at the pass. Or think of ours. Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Graham Swift – that excellent generation of novelists whose
  21. Russell pioneers queer theory in literature at Vassar, The Miscellany News
    Currently, he is teaching a seminar on James Joyce’s Ulysses, a six-week course on Virginia Woolf and a 200-level English course entitled Gay Male Fiction in America after 1945. Russell came to Vassar in 1983, and since then the courses he has taught
  22. Great expectations for Simon Callow’s latest project. . ., Cambridge News
    Tolstoy praised Dickens for tackling issues such as social reform, but Henry James and Virginia Woolf weren’t a fan, saying his work was too sentimental and implausable. :: Details from his domestic routine and method of working suggest Dickens had
  23. Valentines for word lovers, AZ Central.com (blog)
    A classic Steel sentiment: “He was gone, and she was broken hearted, that was all that mattered.” PS I got in trouble for reading Danielle Steel. After that, my mother brought me Little Women. She now buys me books by Virginia Woolf and Alice Munro.
  24. The lamb and the lion, Australia Business Review Weekly (subscription)
    Virginia Woolf captures the agony of that failure indelibly in her short story, The New Dress, from which i have selected some of its many evocative images … “Mabel had her first serious suspicion that something was wrong as she took her cloak off
  25. Say ‘I love you’ with a 3-course meal, Aiken
    English author Virginia Woolf (“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”) would probably agree. Mixing it up in the kitchen is a delicious way for a couple to celebrate Valentine’s Day, perhaps with a bottle of bubbly
  26. ‘A Sympathiser with the Poor’: Charles Dickens at 200, The American
    As Virginia Woolf explained, “we remodel our psychological geography when we read Dickens,” for he created “characters who exist not in detail, not accurately or exactly, but abundantly in a cluster of wild yet extraordinarily revealing remarks.
  27. Review of The Hours author’s latest book wins inaugural hatchet job award ,The Guardian (blog)
    After aligning his Pulitzer-winning novel The Hours to Mrs Dalloway and Virginia Woolf, Cunningham makes a mistake in linking By Nightfall to Joyce, continues Mars-Jones: “If he had chosen softer models he would cut a better figure, the contrast being
  28. Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – February 8, 2012: One Sword, Slightly Used, ComicsAlliance
    My favorite of the stories in here is “The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf,” which is (in both form and content) an attempt to graft together things that don’t actually fit together at all. Jason Lutes has been averaging an issue a year of his
  29. Alan Moore On Harvey Pekar, Grant Morrison And ‘Stealing Characters’ [Video], ComicsAlliance
    Then Virginia Woolf comes along a few hundred years later and decides to create the character as her dual gender character Orlando… It might be splitting hairs, but I’m not adapting these people, these characters. I’m not doing an adaptation of
  30. Anna Clyne’s “Night Ferry” set to sail after a long creative voyage, Chicago Classical Review Clyne also researched other artists and writers who had similar emotional issues such as the poets and writers Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf and Randall Jarrell. Cast in a single 20-minute movement, Night Ferry is Clyne’s largest effort to date.
  31. The Calling of Disorder, Harvard Crimson
    The invocation of Virginia Woolf’s titular assertion, that women needed to be able to support themselves and have their own, personal space if they were to write, immediately gave Bassett an idea. She would provide the necessary funds to support
  32. Picture preview: The Family in British Art, The Independent
    Among the work on display is William Hogarth’s A House of Cards (1730), Sir Robert and Lady Buxton and their daughter Ann, (c1786) by Henry Walton, Stanley Spencer’s The Lovers (1934) and Vanessa Bell’s portrait of her sister, Virginia Woolf (1912).
  33. Happy birthday Mr Dickens! Universitas Helsingiensis
    Virginia Woolf
    thought she would have crossed the road to avoid his showman vulgarity. And yet despite professional literary disdain for his popular fame, we should remember his contemporary John Ruskin’s balanced comment: ‘But let us not lose the use
  34. Literature of the World in 2012 Cuban Book Fair, Prensa Latina
    will put in the reader’s hands universal classics such as Gargantúa and Pantagruel, by François Rabelais; The Nun, by Denis Diderot; The Red and the Black by Stendhal; Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad; and The Lady in the Mirror, by Virginia Woolf.
  35. Monday reads: Virginia Woolf punk’d the Royal Navy and more, Los Angeles Times
    In 1910, Virginia Woolf and her friends pretended to be “Abyssinian princes” and their British guides, convincing the Royal Navy to give them access to the battleship Dreadnought, flagship of the home fleet. They were given a tour and feted with a band
  36. The Week in Culture – The Yorker, The Yorker
    This week Virginia Woolf wears a beard, fiction receives a Hammer-ing, and we reveal that romance is dead for all you culture vultures. 102 years ago to the day, Virginia Woolf and other members of the Bloomsbury group walked the decks of the Royal
  37. How a bearded Virginia Woolf and her band of ‘jolly savages’ hoaxed the navy, The Guardian
    The letter was written by Horace de Vere Cole, who described how he and five friends, including the novelist Virginia Woolf and painter Duncan Grant, duped an admiral and the crew of the battleship HMS Dreadnought, flagship of the home fleet.
  38. A Brick-and-Mortar Amazon Store?; Jonathan Franzen Loves Edith Wharton, The Atlantic Wire [The New Yorker] There’s a letter being offered at auction by a London rare books dealer that details Virginia Woolf’s role in a “shriekingly funny” prank that resulted in Woolf and painter Duncan Grant being given access to the HMS Dreadnought in 1910
  39. Konstantin Soukhovetski at Phillips Collection, Washington Post
    The sense of the melodramatic was palpable, as Soukhovetski introduced the piano version of Philip Glass’s score for “The Hours” by quoting from the suicide note left by Virginia Woolf in the film. He gave this music, characterized by its sometimes
  40. Annie Leibovitz’s personal ‘Pilgrimage’ feels commercial, Washington Post
    The results are eclectic but mostly reflect the heroic pantheon of the bookish liberal establishment: Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Georgia O’Keeffe, Eleanor Roosevelt. Among the 64 photographs culled for the Smithsonian
  41. Charleston – Piece by Piece, Electric Banana
    The trio cite Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe and Virginia Woolf as influences, and claim the track is about ‘regressing to a primal state’. Don’t be discouraged by the pretentiousness, this is a good tune.
  42. Pause Before You Send Email (Or Anything), Lifehacker Australia
    BBC Point Of View columnist Lisa Jardine uses the example of an angry letter Virginia Woolf planned to send to a correspondent. After thinking better of it, she drafted a more conciliatory reply. Jardine argues that this demonstrates a flexibility
  43. Cute in a Klimt, The Nation
    The concept is “East Meet West”, and the designs combine simplicity and elegance, drawing inspiration from Chinese women of the 1960s and the Virginia Woolf novel “Mrs Dalloway”. Classical Western styling marries Eastern sexiness in the outfits
  44. The master storyteller: William Boyd interview, Telegraph.co.uk
    a failed novelist whose passage through the 20th century leads him from pre-war literary London to the Spanish Civil War to an Angry Brigade-style group of anarchists in the 1970s, taking in encounters with such characters as Virginia Woolf,
  45. Being bipolar in Pakistan, DAWN.com
    Some of the most creative geniuses had bipolar disorder such as Virginia Woolf. Stephen Fry openly talks about it and has even made a documentary about what it is like to be bipolar. Studies show connections between bipolar disorder and creativity and
  46. The Little Theatre that grew, Winnipeg Free Press
    It was a time when the diaries and letters of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group were being published, as were those of Gertrude Stein’s expatriate “crowd” in 1930s Paris, and everyone was talking about them (Hendry once signed off a letter to

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Today at the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection, I got firsthand help from curator Isaac Gewirtz.

First, he showed me an article he wrote comparing the proof copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own to the first published copy. It includes an appendix listing every variant between the recently-acquired proof (long thought to have been lost) and the first published version.

As the article shows, Woolf made significant revisions, many related to her views on war and patriarchy. Dr. Gewirtz’s article was published last year in Woolf Studies Annual Volume 17.

Second, Dr. Gewirtz gave me a printout of a Feb. 4 Guardian article that discusses a newly found letter related to the Dreadnought Hoax in which Woolf and four of her friends impersonated Abbysinian royalty to dupe a British admiral and board a Royal Navy dreadnought ship in 1910.

Written by Horace de Vere Cole, one of the pranksters, the letter is being offered for sale by Rick Gekoski, a London dealer in rare books and manuscripts who is imported from the U.S. The letter is accompanied by an original photograph of the hoaxers.

Third, Dr. Gewirtz told me that the Berg Collection holds one of the few existing photos of the Bloomsbury Group members who participated in the Dreadnought Hoax.

All three pieces of information connect to my research topic, the Bloomsbury pacifists.

Isaac Gewirtz is another reason why I ♥ librarians, including library curators.

Read more about my time at the Berg:

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Dreadnought Hoax cover

The Dreadnought Hoax, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University.

A bit of a back and forth about the Dreadnought Hoax took place on the VWoolf Listserv today. So now that the dust has cleared, here are the facts, as established by our Woolf experts:

  • The hoax occurred Monday, Feb. 7, 1910.  Peter Stansky verified the date by checking the original telegram related to the affair. It is housed in the National Archives at Kew, which was formerly known as the Public Records Office. You can access the Archives’ Dreadnought folder here. Stanksy included a full account of the hoax in his book, On or About December 1910: Early Bloomsbury and its Intimate World, published by Harvard University Press in 1996.
  • Quentin Bell gives Feb. 10 as the date of the hoax in his biography of Woolf. In her biography, Hermione Lee gives Feb. 7 as the date, although she does not cite her source. In her 1997 biography Duncan Grant, Frances Spalding doesn’t give a source for her date either, but she does use the correct date of Feb. 7.
  • The Daily Mirror reported on Feb. 16, 1910, that “All England is laughing at the practical joke played a few days ago…”, beneath a photograph of the participants in the hoax.
  • The Dreadnought talk that Woolf gave to the Rodmell branch of the Women’s Institute is published in The Platform of Time, edited by S. P Rosenbaum. Georgia Johnston discovered the manuscript of the talk, and her account was published in the Woolf Studies Annual, Vol XV in 2009.
  • Adrian Stephen wrote The Dreadnought Hoax, published by the Hogarth Press in 1936.

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platform-of-timeThis week in one of the women’s studies classes I teach, our discussion centered around Marxist-socialist feminist theory. After class, I wondered: What would Virginia say?

The answer — at least one of them — was close at hand. In her introductory letter to Life as We Have Known It (1931), Woolf writes of her “benevolent spectator” status at the 1913 meeting of the Women’s Co-operative Guild. 

As the working class women at the meeting talk about their demands for higher wages and a shorter workday, Woolf realizes that, as a privileged upper middle class woman, these issues don’t really affect her. Instead, she says, they ”leave me, in my own blood and bones, untouched.” She admits that, “If every reform they [working class women] demand was granted this very instant it would not touch one hair of my comfortable capitalistic head.”

I am struck by the empathy that Woolf expresses in this piece. She talks about the working class women “who worked, who bore children, who scrubbed and cooked and bargained” and contrasts them with women like herself who sit in comfy chairs reading books and taking exotic trips to picturesque places.

Middle class women may express sympathy for women of the working class, but their sympathy is “fictitious,” Woolf argues. For women of privilege have no idea what it is like to heat bath water for a husband who works as a miner and scrub his blackened clothes by hand, she says. They don’t know what it’s like to be sent out to work in the fields at the age of eight or be comforted by a glimpse of the sun through a factory window. They don’t know what it’s like to rely on old magazines for their only reading material.

One myth about Woolf is that she was an apolitical effete snob who had no awareness of issues regarding class. I think this essay, written to introduce this volume of autobiographical sketches by Co-operative Guildswomen, proves otherwise.

Roy Johnson has posted a review of the Hesperus Press book in which this essay appears, The Platform of Time: Memoirs of Family and Friends on the Mantex Web site. You can read his review here.

The Platform of Time, published in 2007, also contains Woolf’s account of the infamous Dreadnought Hoax, and for the first time in book form, her complete memoir of her nephew Julian Bell.

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