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The heritage plaque noting the literary historical significance of Talland House was unveiled at 3 p.m. (BST) today before a capacity crowd at Talland House, Virginia Woolf’s summertime home in St. Ives from 1882-1894.

Woolf’s father, Leslie Stephen, had the lease on Talland House from 1878-1895.

About the plaque

The plaque, which marks Woolf’s childhood time in St. Ives, was unveiled as part of the St. Ives September Festival.

The first in the black and white colors of the Cornwall flag, the plaque is the product of a long-running campaign by the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, led by Woolf scholar Maggie Humm and the St. Ives Town Council.

The plague received unanimous support from St. Ives Town Council as well as from local MP Derek Thomas.

The Council, together with Talland House’s owner Peter Eddy and the society, hosted the sold-out event, which was fully booked within hours of being announced. The event included a reading by Humm from her novel Talland House (2020).

More Woolf events part of St. Ives September Festival

Two other events related to Woolf are part of the September Festival, which runs Sept. 10-24. They include:

  • A talk titled “Virginia Woolf: Memories of St Ives “by Sarah Latham Phillips, a member of the executive council of the Virginia Woolf Society, at 2 p.m. on Sept. 13 at Porthmeor Studios. Tickets are £6.
  • A tour of the Talland House Gardens conducted by Polly Carter at 10 a.m. on Sept. 21. Tickets are £6. Book by emailing poll.carter1@googlemail.com
Professor Maggie Humm, vice-chair of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, and Councillor Johnnie Wells, Deputy Mayor of St. Ives at the Talland House plaque unveiling today. Humm read from her 2020 novel Talland House at the event. Photo: St. Ives September Festival

 

 

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Several blue plaques commemorate London addresses at which members of the Bloomsbury Group, including Virginia Woolf, lived. Now a similar plaque — in black — will recognize Talland House, Virginia Woolf’s summertime residence in St. Ives, Cornwall.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson on the doorstep of 46 Gordon Square, Woolf’s first Bloomsbury home during #DallowayDay2018. A blue plaque noting the significance of the site is to the right of the front door.

The news, shared by Woolf scholar Maggie Humm, author of the novel Talland House, came via the VWoolfListserv, as well as social media.

Her message to the Listserv stated:

Virginia Woolf is to have a plaque on Talland House St Ives. Following my research and many requests (for the VWSGB) St Ives Town Council has just voted unanimously in support. I was able, additionally, to secure the support of the local MP. The plaque will be black (in line with Cornwall’s flag) not blue as London plaques. More details of dates/funding/design to follow.

Blue Plaque at 29 Fitzroy Square, London, where Virginia and Adrian Stephen lived from 1907-1911.

Blue plaque noting that Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived at Hogarth House, Richmond from 1915-1924 and founded the Hogarth Press there in 1917.

The blue plaque on the side of the Tavistock Hotel commemorating Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s tenure at 52 Tavistock Square, London. It was draped in blue at its unveiling in 2018.

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For anyone who reads and loves Virginia Woolf, St. Ives is a magical place. Take a trip back in time by viewing old footage of that Cornish town.
  • From the BBC iPlayer comes “Cornwall: This Fishing Life,” with series 2, episode 4, focusing on St. Ives. It includes old black and white film footage of the place where Woolf and the Stephen family spent their summers until she was 12.
  • Nineteen seconds of color film footage of St. Ives from Claude Friese-Greene’s The Open Road (1926) a fascinating social record of inter-war Britain. The St. Ives snippet below is available on the British Film Industry‘s YouTube Channel.
  • And just for fun, check out the video below of a model railroad version of St. Ives, circa the 1950s, created by a former St. Ives resident. In this eight-minute video, he adds his own memories, along with details about constructing the layout. Stuart Clarke of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain shared this video and notes that we “may” be able to see Talland House at the 4-minute, 32-second mark.

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Virginia Woolf common reader Nell Toemen was visiting St. Ives this week and sent Blogging Woolf the accompanying photo of Talland House, where local residents Chris and Angela Roberts are sprucing up the garden.

For more on visiting St. Ives, see In Her Steps.

Talland House, St. Ives, Cornwall

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View of Porthminster Beach while walking to Talland House, June 2004

Last September Ratha Tep, a contributing writer for the New York Times Footsteps column, emailed me. She was looking for answers to questions and names of people to contact concerning Virginia Woolf and St. Ives.

Her piece, “In Search of Virginia Woolf’s Lost Eden in Cornwall,” appeared online today and will be in the March 4 print edition. It is marvelous, full of history, love for Woolf as a literary and feminist pioneer, and touring tips for St. Ives and Cornwall that connect us to Virginia’s experiences there.

It also provides an optimistic update about the apartment complex to be built below Talland House that threatened the view and elicited protests from Woolfians around the globe nearly three years ago.

Connecting to the Tate exhibit

Tep’s travelogue is quite timely as well, connecting to the Tate St. Ives exhibit, “Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings.” Sadly, that show ends April 29, nearly two months before many of us will be in England for the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

I visited St. Ives in 2004, taking the six-hour train ride on the Great Western Railway, visiting Talland House — where we were invited in by the woman who occupied the first floor flat — and traipsing around the charming town.

I have not been back since then. After reading Tepp’s piece, my desire to return is stronger than ever.

Long an admirer of this modernist literary pioneer, not only for how Woolf redefined the possibilities of the novel but, for the simple reason that no other writer has given me, sentence for sentence, such pleasure, I decided to go in search of Woolf in her early years. – Ratha Tep, NYT

Porthminster Beach, June 2004

St. Ives Bay, with Godrevy Island and lighthouse in the distance, June 2004

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