Saturday, October 31, 2015

Birth of the Year: October 31, 2015

Photo by Josh Schaffer
Racing over the hills in the country the wind blew vast rings of shadow that dwindled again to green. But in London the streets narrowed the clouds; mist hung thick in the East End by the river; made the voices of men crying "Any old iron to sell, any old iron," sound distant; and in the suburbs the organs were muted. The wind blew the smoke--for in every back garden in the angle of the ivy-grown wall that still sheltered a few last geraniums, leaves were heaped up; keen fanged flames were eating them--out into the street, into windows that stood open in the drawing-room in the morning. For it was October, the birth of the year.

The Years (85-6)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Private beauty: October 30, 2015

"Beauty Berry" -- Color-Reduction Woodcut by EKS
[T]he outsiders will dispense with pageantry not from any puritanical dislike of beauty.  On the contrary, it will be one of their aims to increase private beauty; the beauty of spring, summer, autumn; the beauty of flowers, silks, clothes; the beauty which brims not only every field and wood but every barrow in Oxford Street; the scattered beauty which needs only to be combined by artists in order to become visible to all.  But they will dispense with the dictated, regimented, official pageantry, in which only one sex takes an active part--those ceremonies, for example, which depend upon the deaths of kings, or their coronations to inspire them.

Three Guineas (134)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Something about the Body: October 29, 2015

Photo courtesy of Craig Sargent
 I want you to figure to yourselves a girl sitting with a pen in her hand, which for minutes, and indeed for hours, she never dips into the inkpot. The image that comes to my mind when I think of this girl is the image of a fisherman lying sunk in dreams on the verge of a deep lake with a rod held out over the water. She was letting her imagination sweep unchecked round every rock and cranny of the world that lies submerged in the depths of our unconscious being. . . .   It had sought the pools, the depths, the dark places where the largest fish slumber. And then there was a smash. There was an explosion. There was foam and confusion. The imagination had dashed itself against something hard. The girl was roused from her dream. She was indeed in a state of the most acute and difficult distress. To speak without figure she had thought of something, something about the body, about the passions which it was unfitting for her as a woman to say. Men, her reason told her, would be shocked. The consciousness of--what men will say of a woman who speaks the truth about her passions had roused her from her artist's state of unconsciousness. She could write no more.

"Professions for Women"  (1931)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Portraits of Many Selves: October 28, 2015

One of the exterior galleries at Knole
'What then? Who then?' she said. 'Thirty-six; in a motor-car; a woman. Yes, but a million other things as well. A snob am I? The garter in the hall? The leopards? My ancestors? Proud of them? Yes! Greedy, luxurious, vicious? Am I? (here a new self came in). Don't care a damn if I am. Truthful? I think so. Generous? Oh, but that don't count (here a new self came in). Lying in bed of a morning listening to the pigeons on fine linen; silver dishes; wine; maids; footmen. Spoilt? Perhaps. Too many things for nothing. Hence my books.


On October 28, 1927 Virginia and Vita visited Knole to select portraits for illustrating Orlando.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

An Empty Room: October 27, 2015

Listless is the air in an empty room, just swelling the curtain; the flowers in the jar shift. One fibre in the wicker arm-chair creaks, though no one sits there.
Jacob’s Room (38, 186)

Living Room at Monk's House 2012

Jacob’s Room was published on October 27, 1922

Monday, October 26, 2015

October Light: October 26, 2015

Next day the light of the October morning was falling in dusty shafts through the uncurtained windows, and the hum of traffic rose from the street. London then was winding itself up again; the factory was astir; the machines were beginning. It was tempting, after all this reading, to look out of the window and see what London was doing on the morning of the 26th of October 1928.

A Room of One's Own (95

October 26, 1928 Woolf delivers the second  lecture on "Women and Fiction" at Girton College, Cambridge.

#17 The Green: Ocotber 25, 2015

"In here." He led them into the cellar. It was a large cellar. With its crypt-like ceiling and stone walls it had a damp ecclesiastical look. It was used partly for coal, partly for wine. The light in the centre shone on glittering heaps of coal; bottles of wine wrapped in straw lay on their sides on stone shelves. There was a mouldy smell of wine, straw and damp. It was chilly after the dining-room. Sara came in carrying quilts and dressing-gowns which she had fetched from upstairs. Eleanor was glad to wrap herself in a blue dressing-gown; she wrapped it round her and sat holding her plate on her knees. It was cold.
The Years, "1917" (274)

On October 25, 1914, Leonard and Virginia moved into #17 the Green in Richmond.  Like the characters in The Years, they had to shelter in its basement with the servants during bombing raids on nearby Kew. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Attached to Life: October 24, 2015

Photo by Charlotte Holt
For it is a perennial puzzle why no woman wrote a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capable of song or sonnet. What were the conditions in which women lived? I asked myself; for fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; Shakespeare's plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in mid-air by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings, and are attached to grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.

A Room of One’s Own (41-2)
A Room of One’s Own was published on October 24, 1929

Friday, October 23, 2015

Prophesizing Room: October 23, 2015

Flower Box at Newnham
October 23, 1929

I will here sum up my impressions before publishing a Room of One’s Own.  It is a little ominous that Morgan wont review it.  It makes me suspect that there is a shrill feminine tone in it which my intimate friend will dislike.  I forecast, then, that I shall get no criticism, except of the evasive jocular kind, from Lytton, Roger & Morgan; that the press will be kind & talk of its charm, & sprightliness; also I shall be attacked for a feminist & hinted at for a sapphist; Sybil will ask me to luncheon; I shall get a good many letters from young women.  I am afraid it will not be taken seriously.  (D3 262)

A Room of One’s Own was published on October 24, 1929

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Autumn Leaves: October 22, 2015

The autumn wind blew over England. It twitched the leaves off the trees, and down they fluttered, spotted red and yellow, or sent them floating, flaunting in wide curves before they settled. In towns coming in gusts round the corners, the wind blew here a hat off; there lifted a veil high above a woman's head.

The Years (84)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thinking Peace into Existence: October 21, 2015

Woolf's Bedroom at Monk's House
The Germans were over this house last night and the night before that.  Here they are again. It is a queer experience, lying in the dark and listening to the zoom of a hornet which may at any moment sting you to death. It is a sound that interrupts cool and consecutive thinking about peace. Yet it is a sound--far more than prayers and anthems--that should compel one to think about peace. Unless we can think peace into existence we---not this one body in this one bed but millions of bodies yet to be born--will lie in the same darkness and hear the same death rattle overhead. Let us think what we can do to create the only efficient air-raid shelter while the guns on the hill go pop pop pop and the searchlights finger the clouds and now and then, sometimes close at hand, sometimes far away, a bomb drops.

“Thoughts on Peace in an Air-Raid”  (E6  242)
Pub. October 21, 1940 in The New Republic

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Night and Day: October 20, 2015

Photo by Craig Sargent
Why, she reflected, should there be this perpetual disparity between the thought and the action, between the life of solitude and the life of society, this astonishing precipice on one side of which the soul was active and in broad daylight, on the other side of which it was contemplative and dark as night?  Was it not possible to step from one to the other, erect, and without essential change?

Night and Day (228-9)

Night and Day was published on October 20, 1927.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Island Like a Leaf: October 19, 2015


It was like that then, the island, thought Cam, once more drawing her fingers through the waves. She had never seen it from out at sea before. It lay like that on the sea, did it, with a dent in the middle and two sharp crags, and the sea swept in there, and spread away for miles and miles on either side of the island. It was very small; shaped something like a leaf stood on end.

To the Lighthouse (191)

I Heard a Bee Buzz: October 18, 2015

Orange Wall Flowers in Regent's Park

He is dead -- the white sheets, the scent of flowers, the one bee humming through the room and out again,  Where does it go next? There's one on the Canterbury Bell; but finds no honey there, and so tries the yellow wall flower, but in these ancient London gardens what hope of honey?

"Sympathy" (CSF 110-11)

RIP Alma Bennett

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quicksilver Sliding: October 17, 2105

Photo courtesy of Craig Sargent

Like quicksilver sliding, filings magnetized, the distracted united.  The tune began; the first note meant a second; the second a third.  Then down beneath a force was born in opposition; then another.  On different levels they diverged.  On different levels ourselves went forward; flower gathering some on the surface; others descending to wrestle with the meaning; but all comprehending; all enlisted.  The whole population of the mind's immeasurable profundity came flocking.

Between the Acts (128)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Moving into Charleston: October 16, 2015


It is very exciting that you may get Charleston.  I hope you will.  Leonard says there are certainly 8 bedrooms, probably more, and very good ones, two big sitting rooms on the ground floor and one small one; and very large rooms on the first floor.  He says the garden could be made lovely – there are fruit trees, and vegetables, and a most charming walk under the trees. 
(L2 118)

Sometime in mid-October 1916, Vanessa and Duncan Grant move into Charleston

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tunneling through the Mad Scene: October 15, 2015

October 15, 1923           
Hogarth House

I am now in the thick of the mad scene in Regent’s Park.  I find I write it by clinging as tight to fact as I can, & write perhaps 50 words a morning.  This I must re-write some day. I think the design is more remarkable than in any of my books.  I feel I can use up everything I’ve ever thought. . . .  I’ve only been feeling my way into it—up till last August anyhow.  It took me a year’s groping to discover what I call my tunneling process, by which I tell the past by installments, as I have need of it.  This is my prime discovery so far; & the fact that I’ve been so long finding it, proves, I think, how flase Percy Lubbock’s doctrine is – that you can do this sort of thing consciously.

(D2 272)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fringed with Joy: October 14, 2015

Altered Book Page
Since he belonged, even at the age of six, to that great clan which cannot keep this feeling separate from that, but must let future prospects, with their joys and sorrows, cloud what is actually at hand, since to such people even in earliest childhood any turn in the wheel of sensation has the power to crystallise and transfix the moment upon which its gloom or radiance rests, James Ramsay, sitting on the floor cutting out pictures from the illustrated catalogue of the Army and Navy stores, endowed the picture of a refrigerator, as his mother spoke, with heavenly bliss. It was fringed with joy. The wheelbarrow, the lawnmower, the sound of poplar trees, leaves whitening before rain, rooks cawing, brooms knocking, dresses rustling--all these were so coloured and distinguished in his mind that he had already his private code, his secret language. 
To The Lighthouse (7)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Street Haunting: October 13, 2015

How beautiful a London street is then, with its islands of light, and its long groves of darkness, and on one side of it perhaps some tree-sprinkled, grass-grown space where night is folding herself to sleep naturally and, as one passes the iron railing, one hears those little cracklings and stirrings of leaf and twig which seem to suppose the silence of fields all round them, an owl hooting, and far away the rattle of a train in the valley. But this is London, we are reminded; high among the bare trees are hung oblong frames of reddish yellow light--windows; there are points of brilliance burning steadily like low stars--lamps; this empty ground, which holds the country in it and its peace, is only a London square, set about by offices and houses where at this hour fierce lights burn over maps, over documents, over desks where clerks sit turning with wetted forefinger the files of endless correspondences; or more suffusedly the firelight wavers and the lamplight falls upon the privacy of some drawing-room, its easy chairs, its papers, its china, its inlaid table, and the figure of a woman, accurately measuring out the precise number of spoons of tea which----She looks at the door as if she heard a ring downstairs and somebody asking, is she in?

“Street Haunting”  (E4 482)
Published in The Yale Review, October 1927

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hovering over the mystery: October 12, 2015

Photo courtesy of Craig Sargent
[C]onsider the effect of sex--how between man and woman it hangs wavy, tremulous, so that here's a valley, there's a peak, when in truth, perhaps, all's as flat as my hand. Even the exact words get the wrong accent on them. But something is always impelling one to hum vibrating, like the hawk moth, at the mouth of the cavern of mystery, endowing Jacob Flanders with all sorts of qualities he had not at all—for though, certainly, he sat talking to Bonamy, half of what he said was too dull to repeat; much unintelligible (about unknown people and Parliament); what remains is mostly a matter of guess work. Yet over him we hang vibrating.

Jacob’s Room ( 74)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Present Moment: Ocotber 11, 2015

[A]s she was thinking this, the immensely long tunnel in which she seemed to have been travelling for hundreds of years widened; the light poured in; her thoughts became mysteriously tightened and strung up as if a piano tuner had put his key in her back and stretched the nerves very taut; at the same time her hearing quickened; she could hear every whisper and crackle in the room so that the clock ticking on the mantelpiece beat like a hammer. And so for some seconds the light went on becoming brighter and brighter, and she saw everything more and more clearly and the clock ticked louder and louder until there was a terrific explosion right in her ear. Orlando leapt as if she had been violently struck on the head. Ten times she was struck. In fact it was ten o'clock in the morning. It was the eleventh of October. It was 1928. It was the present moment.

Orlando (218-9)

Orlando was published on October 11, 1928 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spirit of Peace: October 10, 2015

Trinity College, Cambridge

The spirit of peace descended like a cloud from heaven, for if the spirit of peace dwells anywhere, it is in the courts and quadrangles of Oxbridge on a fine October morning. Strolling through those colleges past those ancient halls the roughness of the present seemed smoothed away; the body seemed contained in a miraculous glass cabinet through which no sound could penetrate, and the mind, freed from any contact with facts (unless one trespassed on the turf again), was at liberty to settle down upon whatever meditation was in harmony with the moment. 

A Room of One’s Own (6)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Setting Prelude: October 9, 2015

Photo courtesy of Craig Sargent
Dawn came sharp and chill with red clouds on a faint green sky and drops of water on every leaf and blade. A breeze blew over the garden, dropping dew and dropping petals, shivered over the drenched paddocks, and was lost in the sombre bush. In the sky some tiny stars floated for a moment and then they were gone–they were dissolved like bubbles. And plain to be heard in the early quiet was the sound of the creek in the paddock running over the brown stones, running in and out of the sandy hollows, hiding under clumps of dark berry bushes, spilling into a swamp of yellow water flowers and cresses.

Katherine Mansfield, The Prelude (Part 5) 
October 9, 1917, Woolf records pulling the first page of the proof of K.M.'s story.

A Diary Begins: October 8, 2015

Woolf's Appointment Diaries, offered for sale at Sotheby's, December 2104
Monday 8 October [1917]
This attempt at a dairy is begun on the impulse given by the discovery in a wooden box in my cupboard of an  old volume, kept in 1915, & still able to make us laugh at Walter Lamb.  This therefore will follow that plan -- written after tea, written indiscreetly, & by way I note here that L. has promised to add his page when he has something to say. . . 
(D1 55)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Beaten at Bowls: October 7, 2015

Box of bowls balls at Monk's House
October 6, 1939

Also, there’s the war: or rather the non-war.  Nothing happens.  All is held up.  Nightly we’re served out with a few facts, or a childstory of the adventures of a submarine. . . .  I sitting on Kingston Hill & watching the destroying clouds point like a great feathered grey blue wing over the channel.  Suddenly the rain bursts & I dash home: a great evening, & bowls with L. I’m beaten.  I compose articles on Lewis Carroll & read a great variety of books – Falubert’s life, R.’s lectures, out at last, a life of Erasmus & Jacques Blanche.

 (D5 240)