“My God I love to think of you, Virginia, as my friend. Don’t cry me an ardent creature or say, with your head a little on one side, smiling as though you knew some enchanting secret: ‘Well Katherine, we shall see’… But pray consider how rare it is to find some one with the same passion for writing that you have, who desires to be scrupulously truthful with you – and to give you the freedom of the city without any reserves at all.”—Katherine Mansfield, in a letter to Virginia Woolf (via katherinemansfieldproject)
Moths that fly by day are not properly to be called moths; they do not excite that pleasant sense of dark autumn nights and ivy–blossom which the commonest yellow–underwing asleep in the shadow of the curtain never fails to rouse in us. They are hybrid creatures, neither gay like butterflies nor…
"In July 1934, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary, “After 18 years I at last got rid of an affectionate domestic tyrant.” She was referring to her cook, Nellie Boxall — whose name she persistently spelled “Nelly” — whom she had finally fired after years of emotional tussling between mistress and servant.”
"The result is an absorbing and complex portrait of Woolf’s particular relation to domestics and domesticity (in her later years, amazingly, she learned to cook),but also an analysis of the shifting mores of the period and, most particularly, of the often forgotten individuals whose faithful service to the Woolfs and to servant-swapping Bloomsbury enabled the creation of much high-modernist art.”
"Clearly the relationship between Nellie and her employer was one of mutual disgruntlement and repeated scenes, as consuming as any dysfunctional intimate friendship. But after the single sentence in her diary in which Virginia records Nellie’s departure, the cook vanishes from her records forever: “After 1934 Nellie Boxall was expunged, as if she had indeed been murdered on that last day. No more references, no more fleeting glimpses of her as there are of Lottie Hope or Sophie Farrell, only a blank, after 18 years of intimacy. No letters or reminders were kept.” This is all the more surprising because, Light makes clear, their paths continued to cross. “
"Sophie Farrell came to work as a cook for Virginia’s parents, Julia and Leslie Stephen, in 1886, when Virginia was only 4 years old. Sophie stayed on with the family after Julia Stephen’s early death from rheumatic fever in 1895, and would remain a presence in Virginia’s life right up to its end(…)"
(NOTE: This essay was written on very short notice. Someone else was scheduled to write about Woolf but, as we all know, things happen and it just wasn’t possible but I do hope that this person one day writes about Woolf and, when she does, I want to read it because she…
“Wind and storm colored July. Also, in the middle, cadaverous, awful, lay the grey puddle in the courtyard, when holding an envelope in my hand, I carried a message. I came to the puddle. I could not cross it. Identity failed me. We are nothing, I said, and fell. I was blown like a feather. I was wafted down tunnels. Then very gingerly, I pushed my foot across. I laid my hand against a brick wall. I returned very painfully, drawing myself back into my body over the grey, cadaverous space of the puddle. This is life then to which I am committed.”— Virginia Woolf