“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
“Desiring truth, awaiting it, laboriously distilling a few words, for ever desiring—(a cry starts to the left, another to the right. Wheels strike divergently. Omnibuses conglomerate in conflict)—for ever desiring.”— Virginia Woolf
“What people had shed and left - a pair of shoes, a shooting cap, some faded
skirts and coats in wardrobes - these alone kept the human shape and in the
emptiness indicated how once they were filled and animated; how once hands
were busy with hooks and buttons; how once the looking glass had held a
face.”—Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (via wordpainting) (via awritersruminations)
“So he was deserted. The whole world was clamouring: Kill yourself, kill yourself, for our sakes. But why should he kill himself for their sakes? Food was pleasant; the sun hot; and this killing oneself, how does one set about it, with a table knife, uglily, with floods of blood, - by sucking a gaspipe? He was too weak; he could scarcely raise his hand. Besides, now that he was quite alone, condemned, deserted, as those who are about to die are alone, there was a luxury in it, an isolation full of sublimity; a freedom which the attached can never know.”— Virginia Woolf, Mrs.Dalloway
"Last year Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta, Ga. wrote her first novel. Gone With The Wind. Last week Virginia Woolf of London, England published her seventh. The Years* Margaret Mitchell’s book has sold more copies (1,300,000) than all Virginia Woolf’s put together. But literary brokers who take a long view of the market are stocking up with Woolfs, unloading Mitchells (TIME, April 5). Their opinion is that Margaret Mitchell was a grand wildcat stock but Virginia Woolf a sound investment.
Virginia Woolf has been called ´the best-equipped and the most disappointing woman novelist in the history of English literature.´ That she can be considered a disappointment indicates that she may be not just a highbrow writer but perhaps a great one. She is certainly the foremost woman author of her day. Her books are addressed not to a literary clique but to the Intelligent Common Reader. And the address is written in such a fine and flowing hand that even when it is illegible the hopeful addressee can find some profitable pleasure in puzzling over it. Even her obscurer books have something about them that attracts popular attention, for more than most stylists, she writes about the common gist of things.(…)”
"What Time means, what Space is, what the Sea mirrors is more than Virginia Woolf can say: but that they are, that they mean and mirror some Reality measureless to man is the whole import of her writing."
"Though Virginia Woolf’s experience was as restricted as Jane Austen’s, her reading knew no bounds."
"She never lost her faith for she was never taught any."
"She rarely makes a public appearance. She has no children. Careless of her clothes, her face, her greying hair, at 55 she is the picture of a sensitive, cloistered literary woman. Jealous juniors derisively style her "The Queen of Bloomsbury." Her physical existence is as sheltered now as it always has been. But in the 12-ft. square workroom, whose old-fashioned uncurtained windows overlook a half-acre of English garden, she has made a world of her own. It is not a cork-lined invalid’s retreat like Marcel Proust’s, with the shades drawn; nor a chamber of nightmares like James Joyce’s, where after dark all the familiar objects break up into strange & sinister shapes. Visitors who feel at home in Virginia Woolfs world say it is a room with a view."
“We must admit that he had eyes like drenched violets, so large that the water seemed to have brimmed in them and widened them; and a brow like the swelling of a marble dome pressed between the two blank medallions which were his temples.”— Virginia Woolf, Orlando
“The taste for books was an early one. As a child he was sometimes found at midnight by a page still reading. They took his taper away, and he bred glow-worms to serve his purpose. They took the glow-worms away and he almost burnt the house down with a tinder.”— Virginia Woolf, Orlando
“We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It is as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we are very fortunate, by time itself. There is just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we have ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so.”— Virginia Woolf
“Anyone who has the temerity to write about Jane Austen is aware of [two] facts: first, that of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness; second, that there are twenty-five elderly gentlemen living in the neighbourhood of London who resent any slight upon her genius as if it were an insult to the chastity of their aunts.”— Virginia Woolf