Archive for the ‘Woolf online’ Category

Scholar Elisa Kay Sparks is known for her interest in flowers. Specifically, Virginia Woolf and flowers. She can usually be counted on to present a paper on that topic at annual Woolf conferences. And she has an amazing blog dedicated to the topic.

A Virginia Woolf Herbarium by Elisa Kay Sparks

Flowers from one to 99

A Virginia Woolf Herbarium describes itself as “a collection of essays on flowers in the work of Virginia Woolf: fiction, essays, and life-writing.” Each of the site’s 99 essays includes photos of the flower it discusses.

Each flower discussed on the site is referred to at least once in Woolf’s fiction and/or essays. They range from the almond blossom, mentioned only twice in Woolf’s fiction, to red-hot pokers, which appear 13 times.

Counting, researching, and accounting for the flowers

Pale pink roses in the garden of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Similar roses frame the doorway of Virginia’s bedroom at Monk’s House.

In fact, Sparks, always meticulous in her research, includes a Flower Count that lists the flowers alphabetically and names the number of times Woolf included it in her writing. For example, Woolf mentions roses more often than any other flower — 250 times, with 162 of those occurring in her fiction.

Sparks breaks the count down into four categories: fiction, essays, diaries and letters, and digital hits.

The chart also includes flower purchases Leonard Woolf mentions in his garden account book. From 1919 to 1950, he kept an exact account of all monies spent on and earned by the garden. From 1920 to 1927, he also kept a separate garden diary. These two small green cloth books with red bindings can be found in the Leonard Woolf Papers in the University of Sussex Library.

In the process of researching Woolf’s use of flowers in her writing, Sparks collected:

  • information on the literary, medicinal, and mythological meanings of flowers;
  • research on the history of gardens and gardening; and
  • research on the social assumptions and practices involving flowers and gardening.

Eventually, she plans to distill all of the information she has collected into a book.

More about Woolf and gardens

Virginia Woolf’s Garden: The Story of the Garden at Monk’s House by Caroline Zoob (2013)

The site also includes pages for Works Cited and an annotated list of the reference works Sparks consulted while doing her work on Woolf and flowers, work I would describe as both comprehensive and ground-breaking.

Caroline Zoob’s book, Virginia Woolf’s Garden: The Story of the Garden at Monk’s House, published in 2013, gives an up-close view of the Woolf’s garden. Cecil Woolf, Leonard’s late nephew, wrote the book’s Foreward.

Literature Cambridge also ran a one-week course on Virginia Woolf’s Gardens in July 2019. Blogging Woolf attended and published daily posts.

Garden at Monk’s House, Sussex home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf

Garden at Charleston, Sussex home of Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Clive Bell.


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Screenshot from the Sunday Zoom session on “Rethinking the Dreadnought Hoax” with Danell Jones.

Are we all Zoomed out and ready for a walk in the fresh air? The 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, held virtually for the first time via Zoom, is now over. And while seeing each other in tiny boxes was wonderful, we missed being together in person.

But kudos to conference organizer Ben Hagen, assistant professor of English at the University of South Dakota and president of the International Virginia Woolf Society, for pulling off this amazing virtual event.

Below is a selection of some of the most recent tweets found at the conference hashtag #vwwoolf2021.

It’s a follow-up to yesterday’s report.


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We are in the midst of the 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, which for the first time is being held virtually via Zoom. Postponed last year due to COVID-19, the conference began Thursday and runs through tomorrow. There’s still time to get a day pass.

Below we are sharing a selection of tweets found by following the conference hashtag #vwwoolf2021.

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At a time when inaccurate information spreads like wildfire via social media, it’s refreshing to learn that a major media outlet is interested in fact checking something as seemingly minor as a literary quote, particularly one attributed to Virginia Woolf.

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life” was the quote attributed to Woolf and shared more than 300 times by a Facebook group called “English literature and Linguistics.”

USA TODAY on the hunt

Then USA TODAY noticed. And reporter Rick Rouan, based in Columbus, Ohio, started checking into it. On his own, he was unable to find a record of Woolf saying or writing those words.

So he contacted a couple of folks in the Woolf community, including Blogging Woolf and Benjamin Hagen, assistant professor of English at the University of South Dakota who is heading up this year’s Woolf conference and serves as president of the International Virginia Woolf Society.

Woolfians join the search

I searched my copy of Major Authors on CD-ROM: Virginia Woolf and found no such statement in Woolf’s work. But Hagen traced it to the 2002 film “The Hours,” which is based on Michael Cunningham’s novel of the same title, inspired by Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway.

The Facebook group that posted the quote Rouan investigated has apparently removed it from its page. Fact-checking information shared online is something USA TODAY does regularly, Rouan told me.

Read more about the hunt for the quote and its origins in “Fact check: Quote attributed to Virginia Woolf was in a movie, not her primary work.”

A collection of memes found in a Google search that include the quote falsely attributed to Woolf

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Literature Cambridge continues its online Virginia Woolf Season, studying all 12 major books by Woolf in chronological order.

Woolf’s groundbreaking A Room of One’s Own (1929) is up now, with online lectures via Zoom this month by Alison Hennegan on androgyny on March 6, and Trudi Tate on women on March 13 and 14.

These are followed by five different lectures on The Waves,  a rare chance to consider all aspects of this fascinating novel.

Five lectures on The Waves

  1. Emma Sutton on music in The Waves on March 23
  2. Ellie Mitchell on Percival in The Waves on April 3
  3. Trudi Tate on friendship in The Waves on April 4
  4. Karina Jakubowicz on gardens in The Waves on April 11
  5. Gillian Beer on “Reading The Waves Across a Lifetime” (repeated by popular request) on April 24

From Flush to Between the Acts

Alison Hennegan will discuss Flush on April 10.

Karina Jakubowicz lecturing for Literature Cambridge

Literature Cambridge will finish out its first Woolf Season with Claire Davison on music in Three Guineas, Anna Snaith on The Years, Claire Nicholson on Between the Acts and costume, and more.

Get more details and registration information.

Second Woolf Season this fall

A second Woolf Season is planned for October 2021, and you can study some of Woolf’s brilliant contemporaries in the Women Writers Season: May Sinclair, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Rhys, HD, Rosamund Lehmann, Vita Sackville West, Winifred Holtby, and others, starting in June 2021. https://www.literaturecambridge.co.uk/women

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