Archive for the ‘Flush’ Category

It’s National Dog Day. And of course there are ties-in to Virginia Woolf.

Number one: She had dogs. Number two: She wrote a book about a dog — Flush (1933), told from the perspective of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel.

As children, Virginia and the other Stephen siblings had a gray shaggy terrier named Shag, which was sent by train to Talland House, their summer home in St. Ives, Cornwall to help catch rats.

A new puppy, Jerry, was later added to the family mix. Still later, a sheep-dog pup without a tail named Gurth, after a character in Ivanhoe. Woolf grew attached to Gurth, even though he was her sister Vanessa’s dog, and remained attached to him, even after she and her siblings moved to 46 Gordon Square.

After Vanessa married Clive Bell and moved nearby, Virginia and brother Adiran felt the need to have their own dog. So they visited Battersea Lost Dogs Home and adopted a Boxer named Hans, who Virginia taught to put out matches after she used them to light her cigarettes, a trick she taught all her dogs after Hans.

At the onset of World War I and after Virginia married Leonard Woolf (1912), the couple offered to keep a friend’s Clumber Spaniel named Tinker when he left to serve in the war. Tinker, though, escaped from their garden and was lost. He was not found, despite the Woolfs’ fervent efforts to locate.

In 1919, they added a mixed breed terrier named Grizzle to their home in Rodmell, Monk’s House, and the canine accompanied Virginia on her walks over the Sussex downs.

Perhaps the most famous of Virginia Woolf’s dogs is Pinka, the purebred black Cocker Spaniel from a litter born to Pippin, Vita Sackville-West’s Cocker Spaniel. Pinka was a gift to the Woolfs from Vita.

For an entire chapter on the Woolfs and their dogs, take a look at Shaggy Muses by Maureen Adams.

You’ll call this sentimental—perhaps—but then a dog somehow represents the private side of life, the play side. – Virginia Woolf


Vanessa Bell, Horatio Brown, Julia Duckworth Stephen, Thoby Stephen, Virginia Woolf, George Duckworth, Adrian Stephen, Gerald Duckworth and the family dog Shag in 1892.


Virginia Woolf and Pinka


The cover of Virginia Woolf’s 1933 novel “Flush: A Biography,” which included original drawings by Vanessa Bell.

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Inspired by her own trip from London to Greece with her spaniel, Virginia Woolf fan and Masters student Katyuli Lloyd has crafted new illustrations for Woolf’s Flush (1933).

Screenshot of her sketchbook for Flush.

Screenshot of Lloyd’s sketchbook for Flush, as posted on her website.

Her version uses four-color lithographs and black ink sketches to illustrate Woolf’s story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel. The project is part of her Masters in Children’s Book Illustration at the  Cambridge School of Art.

Layering of colors played a key role in the project, Lloyd said. “I knew that my choice of colours would be key to bringing the book to life. The added challenge was to find a colour scheme that could work for contrasting environments: a dark Victorian interior and the outdoor light of Italy.”

I first read the novel when I had taken my own spaniel from London to Greece. I was inspired by my experiences mirroring those of someone 170 years ago: the timelessness in the relationship between an owner and their dog, as well as the love of travel. -Katyuli Lloyd

Her two major Masters projects are the Flush illustrations and a rewrite of Nikolai Gogol’s Nose for 7-9 years olds in rhyming couplets, with illustrations.

An exhibition of her work will be held at the Candid Arts Trust Gallery, 3–5 Torrens Street, London EC1V, Feb. 9-13, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

I was keen for my finished artwork to have a hand-printed quality. I liked the grainy, faded lithograph prints of the 1920s and 1930s, including those of Vanessa Bell for Hogarth Press, and I wanted my artwork to nod to Woolf’s hand-printed books. – Lloyd

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Here is some news via the Facebook page of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain:

The RateMyWords Virginia Woolf Competition has awarded first prize and £200 to Gabriella Patanè for her story “The Pawmark on the Page,” a tribute to Virginia Woolf. Here is her opening line:

‘Perhaps it was the end of September 1930 that Virginia Woolf first saw the pawmark on the page.’

Here’s the original from Woolf’s “The Mark on the Wall”:

‘Perhaps it was the middle of January in the present that I first looked up and saw the mark on the wall.’

According to the society, Gabriella’s story combines ‘The Mark on the Wall’ with Flush, featuring Pinker theFlush spaniel, the real-life model for Flush, given to Virginia by Vita Sackville-West. Virginia and Leonard are included in the story, and even Nelly gets a namecheck.

Read the full story.

RateMyWords also made a generous donation to the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain.

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Some people don’t like stories written from a dog’s point of view, but I tend to enjoy their whimsical approach to life.

Take Virginia Woolf’s Flush, for example. It’s more than a dog’s story. It’s a literary love story. And it’s a study of a complicated father-daughter relationship somewhat like Woolf’s own.

In it, Woolf also includes allusions to John Ruskin‘s descriptions of Italy, all told from the perspective of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel named Flush.

A couple of years ago, J.F. Englert, author of a series of charming mystery books ostensibly written by a Labrador retriever named Randolph, sent me two, A Dog About Town and A Dog Among Diplomats, in the hopes that I would blog about them. Hoping that I could find a connection between his books and Woolf’s Flush, I thought I would too.

But I haven’t until now. Somehow I needed a third canine narrator to flesh out my little post. I found the missing link when The Guardian wrote a review of a The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan.

Not only does O’Hagan’s book feature a doggie narrator. It also starts out at Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex. There, the narrator, while still a pup, discusses his life with Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. And that little tidbit gave me the hook I needed to write this.

It stretches the imagination to visualize a dog moving from a life with Vanessa and Duncan to a life with Marilyn Monroe, but what the heck. Is that any more of a stretch than a dog who narrates novels?

Such books are a fun read. But for now I think I’ll stick to Randolph, who has a new book out. This one is called A Dog at Sea. Sounds like a perfect summer read.

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Recent news about Virginia Woolf connects her to the animal companion she held most dear — the dog.

First, there’s a book. Shaggy Muses: The Dogs Who Inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton and Emily Bronte features a photo of Woolf and one of her beloved cocker spaniels on the cover.

In the book, Adams, a psychologist and former English professor, tells the story of five exceptional women writers — including Woolf — who obtained emotional support from their canine pets. In Woolf’s case, Adams suggests that her depiction of a dog’s trauma in her biography Flush dealt with her own childhood molestation.

Adams’s argument may be skewed by its limited focus. But the tome, which Publisher’s Weekly calls a “sweet, quirky book” is still worth a look. Read a review.

Woof sighting
Then there’s a doggie daycare. Helen Southworth  shared her latest find, a Web site advertising Virginia Woof Dog Daycare, with the Virginia Woolf Listserv.

A quote posted at the top of the Portland, Oregon, doggie daycare’s Web site leaves us no doubt about the Woof establishment’s intentional connection to Woolf. The quote from the author reads: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

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