Posts Tagged ‘Leslie Stephen’

Some of the monographs in the Bloomsbury Heritage Series from Cecil Woolf Publishers. The monograph by Catherine Hollis, “Leslie Stephen as Mountaineer: Where does Mont Blanc end, and where do I begin?”, was published in 2010.

The call for papers has gone out for the first-ever conference on Virginia Woolf’s father, Leslie Stephen, which will be held at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris on Oct. 24-25, 2024. The conference title is “Leslie Stephen: Thinking With and Against His Time International Conference.”

Abstracts of about 300 words, for 25-minute papers in English, together with a short (100-word) author biography, should be sent to the organizers by Jan. 31, 2024, at: leslie.stephen.conference@gmail.com.

A selection of peer-reviewed articles based on papers given at the conference will be collected for publication. In case of difficulties tracing Stephen’s works, please contact the organizers, who will be happy to share links and resources.

Organizers are Claire Davison (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris); Isabelle Gadoin (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris); and Marie Laniel (Université de Picardie, Amiens).

More details


Langues, Textes, Arts et Cultures du Monde Anglophone


Conflits, Représentations et Dialogues dans l’Univers Anglo-Saxon

SEW – Société d’Études Woolfiennes

Confirmed keynote speakers

  • Dr. Jane Potter (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr. Trudy Tate (Clare Hall, University of Cambridge)

Call for papers

Early advocate of evolutionism, one of the first openly declared agnostics, editor of the Cornhill Magazine, pioneering mountaineer, moral philosopher, founder and general editor of the DNB: there are so many more facets to Leslie Stephen (1832-1904) than those recorded by his daughter Virginia Woolf, who memorably paid tribute to his “strong,” “healthy out of door, moor striding mind”. By unfolding all the contradictions and paradoxes of the character, this first international conference on Leslie Stephen means to reclaim the full complexity of his thought and legacy.

Thinking with and against his time, Stephen held a key position at the heart of the Victorian literary scene and was an impressively prolific writer, profoundly engaged with the religious, philosophical and social debates of his age. A highly respected journalist and critic, he edited the Cornhill Magazine from 1871 to 1882, publishing works by George Meredith, Thomas Hardy, John Addington Symonds, Henry James and R.L. Stevenson, and was the author of hundreds of essays, published over the course of forty years in periodicals, such as the Fortnightly ReviewFraser’s MagazineMacmillan’s MagazineMind, the National Review, the Nineteenth Century, the Saturday Review or the Pall Mall Gazette, a vast oeuvre now finally accessible thanks to online databases.  

His devotion to knowledge and integrity were such that he preferred to break with the academic world of Cambridge rather than compromise with the Church. Heir to the Clapham Sect, Stephen engaged with the theological debates of his time to the point of gradually and publicly embracing agnosticism, a form of radicalism that coexisted from then on with forms of traditionalism.

 His own prolific output bears witness to his encyclopaedic mind and his boundless curiosity for all the key issues of the day, however polemical: the anti-slavery movement, agnosticism, educational and social reform… Both a man of his time and a pioneer, Stephen explored new epistemological modes in keeping with the expanding frontiers of his age, while remaining profoundly anchored in some of the values and hierarchies of the day.

The Dictionary of National Biography (DNB), his life’s work, and one of his most ambitious projects, is the finest example of his desire to define new modes of classification and new forms of expression for the expanding knowledge of his time. Breaking with the established narratives of the past, he devised a new approach to writing the biography of the nation, doing away with the grandiose tradition of commemoration. In its place, he developed a more archaeological approach, delving into the past and collating the life stories of all those who helped shape the evolution of the country.

The same pioneering spirit stoked his passion for the Alps and mountaineering, in which he proved as much a trailblazer as he did in intellectual life. It is this conquering spirit that his close friend Thomas Hardy immortalized in his poem “The Schreckhorn, With Thoughts of Leslie Stephen” (1897), which extolled his will to “venture life and limb” as well as the “quaint glooms” of his personality, when paying tribute to Stephen as the first man ever to ascend this mountain.

However daring and rigorous in his endeavours, Stephen was no less a direct heir to the Romantic tradition. An ardent poetry lover, he could quote vast swathes of the poetic canon, from Milton to Wordsworth, Tennyson and Arnold, and would rhythm both domestic life and mountaineering exploits with his recitations. Likewise, despite his allegiance to Victorian models of “Muscular Christianity”, and the manly world of clubs and fellowships, he would at times indulge in various forms of sentimentalism and melodramatic displays of emotion.

These are some of the contradictions that the participants to this conference are invited to explore. Similarly, his vast output deserves to be reconsidered through diverse critical paradigms, such as new materialist History, print culture studies, new sensory studies, phenomenology, affect studies and ethics, gender studies, health and disability studies.

We welcome contributions focusing on Leslie Stephen, but also on the following topics, connected with his life and times and shedding light on the larger context of his work:

  • Victorian encyclopaedism
  • Victorian periodicals, print culture, the publishing industry
  • Biography, the DNB, “hero-worship”
  • Stephen’s relations to Victorian sages and prophets
  • Letters, epistolarity, literary networks
  • Cambridge, academia, education and university reform
  • Gentlemen’s clubs, sociability
  • 18th century philosophy and literature, the Enlightenment
  • Utilitarianism, Science, Evolutionism
  • The Clapham Sect, Agnosticism, Scepticism
  • War, the anti-slavery movement
  • Morality, the “science of ethics”
  • Mountaineering, athletics, walking, nature and travel writing
  • Memory, elegy, mourning, the Mausoleum Book, Virginia Woolf & Leslie Stephen

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From the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain comes news of these events:

  • What: All-day reading of Woolf’s 1927 masterpiece, To the Lighthouse
    When: Sunday 14 October 2018, 9.30 a.m. to (approx.) 8.30 p.m.
    Where: Lucy Cavendish College
    Details: Free and open to all, both town and gown. Come for an hour or so, or come for the day.
    Lunch will be available to buy in the Lucy Cavendish dining hall, 12:30-1:30 p.m. RSVP for lunch by emailing tt206@cam.ac.uk
    Get more details.
  • What: Talk on two previously unpublished sketches “The ‘Cook Sketch‘ and ‘The Villa Jones‘: Virginia Woolf’s Lost 1931 Sketches”
    When: Tuesday 30 October 2018, 1 p.m.
    Where: Clara Jones, King’s College, London.
    Details: This talk will introduce two previously unpublished sketches discovered in the pages of a little-known notebook held in New York’s Morgan Library. The two sketches differ formally but collectively suggest an alternative starting point for the much-discussed political turn in Woolf’s writing during the 1930s. Hosted by Literature Cambridge and Lucy Cavendish College. Get more details.
  • What: VWSGB members are invited to the Leslie Stephen Lecture
    When: Monday 15 October: Lecture at 5:30 p.m. with drinks reception following at 6:45 p.m.
    Where: Lecture in the Senate House, Cambridge; drinks reception in The Combination Room, The Old Schools.
    Details: Lecture by Sir Simon Schama on “Liberalism, populism and the fate of the world”
    Details: Free. Get more details.

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Each year at the Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, Cecil Woolf Publishers Bloomsbury Heritage monographsintroduces several new monographs in its Bloomsbury Heritage series. Here’s what’s new on the shelf this year:

  • Jakubowicz, Karina. Garsington Manor and the Bloomsbury Group. No. 77. ISBN 978-1-907286-48-3. Price £10
  • Maggio, Paula. Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and the Great War, Seeing Peace Through an Open Window: Art, Domesticity & the Great War. No. 78. ISBN 978-1-907286-49-0. Price £10
  • Newman, Hilary. Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson: Contemporary Writers. No. 79. ISBN 978-1-907286-50-6. Price £10
  • Twinn, Frances. Leslie Stephen and His Sunday Tramps. No. 80. ISBN 978-1-907286-51-3. Price £10

You can view the full list of monographs available in the Bloomsbury Heritage Series and the War Poets Series.

To order one or more of the volumes, contact:

cecil woolf publishersCecil Woolf Publishers
1 Mornington Place
London NW1 7RP, UK
Tel: 020 7387 2394 or +44 (0)20 7387 2394 from outside the UK

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This is new but not new. Virginia Woolf’s Monk’s House photo albums are on the Harvard University Library website.

Word of them showed up in a Feb. 12, 2016, post on the History Buff website, “Peek Inside Virginia Woolf’s Personal Photo Album.”  Duckworth

They’ve been there for some time. When I found them, they were posted as individual volumes. Once you scrolled past the introductory text, you could click on individual images, such as the one at right, a photo of George Duckworth.

You could also find them as Monk’s House Photograph Album.

This link on the Harvard University Library website displays the 144 individual pages of WoolfVirginia Woolf’s Monk’s House photo albums individually in a lefthand sidebar when you choose the “Show Thumbnails” option.

The image of very other page in the sidebar shows no photos attached. However, when you click on the image of a blank page, you will see that those blank pages appear to be the backs of the pages with the photos. Apparently, those pages were intended to be left empty.

You can also view Leslie Stephen’s Photograph Album on the Smith College site.

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A new two-part documentary series, Secrets from the Asylum, investigates how mental health was treated in Victorian Britain.

This show highlights the practices of “Lunatic Asylums” as they were called and connects British celebrities to their ancestors who were treated in these asylums.

In episode one, English comedian Al Murray encounters the history of his great-great-great grandfather, novelist William Thackeray, who tried to help his wife, Isabella, with her post-partum depression by having her admitted to an asylum at the age of 23.


Woolf’s half-sister Laura Stephen

In episode two we learn about the history of Thackeray’s granddaughter, Virginia Woolf’s half-sister, Laura Stephen, who suffered from a learning disability and didn’t “fit in.”

An article by the producers of the show, Scottish Television, states:

Laura “was branded an imbecile and a potential embarrassment to her intellectual father, writer Leslie Stephen, and at the age of 22 was admitted to the Royal Earlswood Asylum.”

In the article Murray said: “What’s shocking about this is that Laura Stephen’s father Leslie was a member of the chattering classes. He couldn’t have been a more intelligent, plugged in, literary, engaged man with modern ideas.

The modern idea in the late 1800s was society was not to be undermined by people who were ‘feeble-minded’, so these people, for their own good and the good of society, were removed. It was the Victorian worry about the purity of the gene pool.”

You can watch the full episodes: Episode 1 & Episode 2

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