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Thanks to the New York Public Library, we have a good reason to visit New York City — the exhibit “Virginia Woolf: A Modern Mind,” which opens today and runs through March 5, 2023.

The library’s first major exhibition to focus on Woolf since 1993, this biographical exhibit of more than 100 items provides an intimate view of the author’s life and creative process, using her personal notebooks and diaries, family photographs, and unpublished letters.

It is drawn entirely from the library’s holdings, one of the most important collections of Woolf’s writings in the world.

The focus and tickets

Tightly focused on her life and creative process, the exhibit explores the production of several novels, including Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927). The exhibit includes sections on nonfiction and the Hogarth Press, as well as the development of Vanessa Bell’s dust jacket designs.

Woolf’s diary is woven through the exhibit, and its main sections will be bookended by smaller introductory and legacy sections.

Located in the smaller Wachenheim Gallery of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd St., the exhibit includes materials primarily from the William Beekman Collection, along with a few recent acquisitions. These include Bell’s original drawings for To the Lighthouse and minor unpublished letters.

Free timed tickets can be booked online.

The materials

Materials related to “Virginia Woolf: A Modern Mind” are from the well-known Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, including:

  • William Beekman Collection of Virginia Woolf and Her Circle
  • Virginia Woolf Collection of Papers
  • Duckworth-Hills Papers

There’s more to see

If you make the trip to the NYPL, be sure to take in the library’s first-ever permanent Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures. There you will see these Woolf-related items:

    • Virginia Woolf’s walking stick
    • Portraits of Virginia Woolf and her father, Leslie Stephen, from Violet Dickinson’s photo album
    • Diary entry by Woolf from November 1918
    • Letter from Virginia Woolf to David Garnett (1922)

Now Open! Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures from The New York Public Library on Vimeo.

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Rebecca Filner, librarian at the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection, doesn’t leave her job behind when she walks out of the Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

What that means for me is that after she left work last night, she continued thinking about the Bloomsbury pacifists, the focus of my research at the Berg. And when I arrived this morning for the second day of my Short-Term Research Fellowship, she had some tips to share.

She told me of a recent Berg acquisition, a letter from Lytton Strachey to Duncan Grant.  And she also sent me links to unpublished letters from Vanessa Bell to Maynard Keynes currently housed at the Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street in Manhattan, and sent me the link to the reading room application.

Rebecca is another reason why I ♥ librarians.

Read more about my time at the Berg:

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