Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mounds at Kew: May 31, 2015

I thought, driving through Richmond last night. Something very profound about the synthesis of my being: about how only writing composes it: how nothing makes a whole unless I am writing: now I have forgotten what seemed so profound.  The rhododendron like coloured glass mounds at Kew.   

May 31, 1933    
(AWD 201)

Mounds at Kew, not Rhododendrons

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Portraits: May 30, 2015

That still-life, they proceed, pointing to a jar of red-hot pokers, is to us what a beefsteak is to an invalid – an orgy of blood and nourishment, so starved are we on our diet of thin black print,  We nestle into its colour, feed and fill ourselves with yellow and read and gold until we drop off nourished and content.  Our sense of colour seems miraculously sharpened.  We carry those roses and red-hot pokers about us for days, working then over again in words. 

 "Portraits” (MOE 177)

Friday, May 29, 2015

R.I.P. Jane Marcus: May 29, 2015

Jane Marcus, photo of garden flowers and fruits; contributed by Jean Mills
In her 1982 ground-breaking critique of traditional approaches to Virginia Woolf, "Storming the Toolshed," Jane Marcus wrote: "It is an open secret that Virginia Woolf's literary estate is hostile to feminist critics.  There are two taboo subjects: on one hand her lesbian identity, woman-centered life, and feminist work, and on the other, her socialist politics.  If you wish to discover the truth regarding these issues, you will have a long, hard struggle.  In that struggle you will find the sisterhood of feminist Woolf scholarship" (Signs 13.1, p. 628).  The degree to which those two subjects now provide the cornerstones of international Virginia Woolf studies is largely due to Jane Marcus's long, hard years of struggle to document the full political and social context of Woolf's writing.  We are all forever in her debt.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wall Flowers: May 28, 2015

We had the best display of flowers yet seen – wall flowers in profusion, columbines, phlox, & and as we went huge scarlet poppies with purple stains in them.  The peonies were even about to burst.  There was a nest of blackbirds against the wall. Last night at Charleston I lay with my window open listening to a nightingale, which beginning in the distance came very near the garden.  Fishes splashed in the pond.  May in England is all they say – so teeming, amorous, & creative.
Wall flowers, phlox, columbine, and forget-me-nots at Charleston

Woolf writing about Asham
May 28, 1918  (D1 151) 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Central Line: May 27, 2015

"Vision Statement" Digital composition rendered as silkscreen
I meant nothing by The Lighthouse.  One has to have a central line down the middle of the book to hold the design together,  I saw that all sorts of feelings would accrue to this, but I refused to think them out, and trusted that people would make the deposit for their own emotions -- which they have done, one thinking it means one thing one another.  I can't manage symbolism except in this vague, generalised way.  Whether it is right or wrong I don't know, but directly I'm told what a thing means, it becomes hateful to me.

Letter to Roger Fry
May 27, 1927 (L3 385)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Briar Rose; May 26, 2015

If only I weren’t a writer, perhaps I could thank you and praise you and admire you simply and expressively and say in one word what I felt about the concert yesterday.  As it is, an image forms in my mind; a quickset briar hedge, innumerably spikey and thorned; in the centre burns a rose.  Miraculously the rose is you; flushed pink, wearing pearls.  The thorn hedge is the music; and I have to break my way through violins, flutes, cymbals, voices to this red burning centre.   

Letter to Ethel Smyth  
May 26, 1930 (L4, 171)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Boxed House: May 25, 2015

It was an abominable system, he thought; family life; Abercorn Terrace.  No wonder the house would not let. It had one bathroom, and a basement; and there all those different people had lived, boxed up together, telling lies. 
The Years (211) 

Front and rear views of 22 Hyde Park Gate, Woolf's childhood home in London
May 25, 1928
Virginia Woolf writes her sister Vanessa that 22 Hyde Park Gate has been sold.  (L3, 499)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Garden Island: May 24, 2015

The drone of the trees was in their ears; the chirp of birds; other incidents of garden life, inaudible, invisible to her in the bedroom, absorbed them.  Isolated on a green island, hedged about with snowdrops, laid with a counterpane of puckered silk, the innocent island floated under her window,

Between the Acts (10-1)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rose Red Tower: May 23, 2015

Dearest Creature,
. . . Theres only one person I want to see, and she has no burning wish for anything but a rose red tower and a view of hop gardens and oasts.  Who could it be? It is said that she has written a poem and has a mother, a cow, and a moat.

Letter to Vita Sackville-West  May 25, 1932
(L5 66)

Oasts at Sissinghurst
On May 23, 1030, Woolf visited Sissinghurst for the first time

Sissinghurst Alliums -- Woodcut and solar plate (2006)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Purple World: May 22, 2015

This is our world, lit with crescents and stars of light. And great petals half transparent block the openings like purple windows.  Everything is strange. Things are huge and very small.  The stalks of flowers are thick as oak trees.  Leaves are high as the domes of vast cathedrals.

(The Waves 14) 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wsiteria: May 21, 2015

Wisteria next door to Woolf's home on Richmond Green. Photo by Ellen McLaughlin

Flush was independent now.  The wisterias and the laburnum were flowering over walls; the Judas tree were burning bright in the gardens; the wild tulips were sprinkled in the fields, Why should he wait?

(Flush 118)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Voluptuary May: May 20, 2015

Meadow surrounded by May: Petersham, just below Richmond on Thames
                                    If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.   
                                T.S. Eliot  Little Gidding

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pondering: May 19, 2015

The ponderous woman looked through the pattern of falling words at the flowers standing cool, firm, and upright in the earth, with a curious expression. She saw them as a sleeper waking from a heavy sleep sees a brass candlestick reflecting the light in an unfamiliar way, and closes his eyes and opens them, and seeing the brass candlestick again, finally starts broad awake and stares at the candlestick with all his powers. So the heavy woman came to a standstill opposite the oval-shaped flower bed, and ceased even to pretend to listen to what the other woman was saying. She stood there letting the words fall over her, swaying the top part of her body slowly backwards and forwards, looking at the flowers. Then she suggested that they should find a seat and have their tea.

"Kew Gardens" 
(CSF 93) 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Real Flowers: May 17, 2015

But real flowers can never be dispensed with.  If they could, human life would be a different affair altogether.  For flowers fade; chrysanthemums are the worst; perfect over night; yellow and jaded next morning – not fit to be seen.  On the whole, though the price is sinful, carnations pay best; -- it’s a question, however, whether it’s wise to have them wired.
Jacob's Room (85) 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Apple Orchard: May 16, 2015

Monk's House Orchard in May (Diary refers to garden at Hogarth House)

Friday, May 16, 1919  
We have taken this week to dining in the garden, & and there we sat on the flawless summer night with the apple trees softly snowed under with blossom, & the moon up.
(D1 272)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sweet Peas: May 15, 2015

And then, opening her eyes, how fresh like frilled linen clean from a laundry laid in wicker trays the roses looked; and dark and prim the red carnations, holding their heads up; and all the sweet peas spreading in their bowls, tinged violet, snow white, pale--as if it were the evening and girls in muslin frocks came out to pick sweet peas and roses after the superb summer's day, with its almost blue-black sky, its delphiniums, its carnations, its arum lilies was over; and it was the moment between six and seven when every flower--roses, carnations, irises, lilac--glows; white, violet, red, deep orange; every flower seems to burn by itself, softly, purely in the misty bed. (MD 13)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bourton House: May 14, 201

What a lark!  What a plunge!  For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air.  How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she
then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off them and the rooks
rising, falling.  
Mrs. Dalloway (3)

May 14, 1925, Mrs. Dalloway was published
Bourton House in Gloucestershire

Water Lillies at Kew: May 13, 2015

They wandered in and out of glasshouses, saw lilies swimming in tanks, breathed the scent of thousands of carnations and compared their respective tastes in the matters of trees and lakes.
Night and Day (339) 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kew Gardens: May 12, 201

From the oval-shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end. The petals were voluminous enough to be stirred by the summer breeze, and when they moved, the red, blue and yellow lights passed one over the other, staining an inch of the brown earth beneath with a spot of the most intricate colour.
"Kew Gardens" (CSF 90) 

"Kew Gardens" was published by the Hogarth Press on May 12, 1919.

Oval beds at Kew

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Back Garden: May 11, 2015

May 11, 1897

Father has taken up Dr. Seaton’s notion that I should be healthfully employed out of doors – as a lover of nature --& the back garden is to be reclaimed—that will be a truly gigantic work of genius – nevertheless we will try. 
(PA 84) 

Back Garden of 22 Hyde Park Gate, as viewed from upper window

Evening Primroses: May 10, 2015

Evening primroses among roses
Standing at the window and looking out into the garden, the lives of all these books filled the room behind with a soft murmur. Truly, a deep sea, the past, a tide which will overtake and overflow us. Yes, the tennis players looked half transparent already, as they came up the grass lawn to the house, the game being over. The tall lady stooped and picked a pallid rose; and the balls which the gentleman kept dancing up and down upon his racquet, as he walked beside her, were dim little spheres against the deep green hedge. Then, as they passed inside, the moths came out, the swift grey moths of the dusk, that only visit flowers for a second, never settling, but hanging an inch or two above the yellow of the evening primroses, vibrating to a blur.
-- "Reading"  (E3 150)  (CDB 165)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Marsh Farm: May 8, 2015

Farm below Monk's House
What could have been more secret, more slow, and like the intercourse of lovers, than the stammering answer she had made all these years to the old crooning song of the woods, and the farms and the brown horses standing at the gate neck to neck, and the smithy and the kitchen and the fields, so laboriously bearing wheat, turnips, grass, and the gardens blowing irises and fritillaries?   Orlando  (238)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Paddington Butterfly: May 7, 2015

And so I was taken in a cab with George and Nessa to meet Thoby at Paddington.  It was sunset, and the great glass dome at the end of the station was blazing with light.  It was glowing yellow and red and the iron girders made a pattern across it.  I walked along the platform, gazing with rapture at this magnificent blaze of colour, and the train slowly steamed into the station.   "A Sketch of the Past" (MOB 93)
Paddington Train Station
She saw the colour burning on a framework of steel; the light of a butterfly’s wing lying upon the arches of a cathedral.  (TTL 51)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Swans in the Water Meadows: May 6, 2015

Swans in the water meadows behind Monk's House


I walk in the afternoon down to the river.  All the world is breeding. The flies are going from grass to grass.  The flowers are thick with pollen.  The swans ride the stream in order.  The clouds warm now, sun-spotted, sweep over the hills, leaving gold in the water, and gold on the necks of the swans.     

The Waves  (71-2)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Moon Country: May 5, 2015

For the great plateful of blue water was before her; the hoary Lighthouse, distant, austere, in the midst; and on the right, as far as the eye could see, fading and falling, in soft low pleats, the green sand dunes with the wild flowing grasses on them, which always seemed to be running away into some moon country, uninhabited of men. (TTL 16)

Julia Stephens, Woolf's mother, died May 5, 1895
To the Lighthouse was published May 5, 1927

Monday, May 4, 2015

Green: May 4, 2015

He was describing, as all young poets are forever describing, nature, and in order to match the shade of green precisely he looked (and here he showed more audacity than/most) at the thing itself, which happened to be a laurel bush growing beneath the window.  After that, of course, he could write no more.  Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another.  

 Orlando (13)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wisteria: May 3, 2015


"Fireflies among the wisteria. . . . See how the great blossoms hang before us; vast chandeliers of gold and dim purple pendant from the skies.  Do you feel the fine gilt painting our thighs as we enter, and how the slate coloured walls flap clammily about us as we dart deeper and deeper into the petals or grow taut like drums?"
"The Evening Party" (CSF 97) 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Platforms of Time: May 2, 2015

2nd May . . . I write the date, because I think that I have discovered a possible form for these notes.  That is, to make them include the present -- at least enough of the present to serve as platform to stand upon.  It would be interesting to make the two people, I now, I then, come out in contrast.  And further, this past is much affected by the present time.  What I write today I should not write in a year's time. But I cannot work this out; it had better be left to chance.

"A Sketch of the Past" 1939 (MOB 75)
Talland House Ghosts (digital composition)

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day: May 1, 2015

London Chestnuts in May bloom
The tree bowing, the grey spires soft in the blue, voices blowing and seeming suspended in the air, the springy air of May, the elastic air with its particles – chestnut bloom, pollen, whatever it is that gives May air its potency, blurring the trees, gumming the buds, daubing the green. 

Jacob's Room (35)