Posts Tagged ‘Dreadnought Hoax’

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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“Good Ol’ Women’s Rights” cartoon

We have all seen caricatures of Virginia Woolf. One appears on a coffee mug I use when I need a swig of inspiration. But there are also a number of Virginia Woolf cartoons out in cyberspace, and here are a few I found.

And for a real treat, get ahold of a copy of the new graphic novel Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel. It features pages of drawings and text that feature Woolf’s intellectual struggle with the concepts of private writing versus public writing, the influence of her mother and her novel To the Lighthouse.

Here’s a quote about Bechdel’s book from Gloria Steinem:

Many of us are living out the unlived lives of our mothers. Alison Bechdel has written a graphic novel about this; sort of like a comic book by Virginia Woolf. You won’t believe it until you read it—and you must!

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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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