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By Joan Russell Noble

A landmark learn of Virginia Woolf, now again in print

Recollections, anecdotes and first-hand impressions—including items from a number of the major lighting fixtures of the Bloomsbury Group—are gathered together in this perceptive and profound quantity. Many items have been specifically written for the unique variation of this publication, together with paintings by way of Duncan provide, Rebecca West, and T.S. Eliot, whereas maybe its most renowned piece—by a member of her family staff—movingly describes her at the day of her demise. From these types of memories, a composite and complicated portrait of the artist emerges, person who no fan of her writings can be with no.

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We had started a small series of Hogarth Letters, pamphlets containing about 6,000 or 7,000 words each, and I had asked Virginia, because she had begun to read the poetry of my generation with increasing curiosity, to undertake a ‘Letter to a Young Poet’ in the series. She wrote: That reminds me – I think your idea of a Letter most brilliant – ‘To a Young Poet’ – because I’m seething with immature & ill-considered & wild & annoying ideas about prose and poetry. So lend me your name – (& let me sketch a character of you by way of frontispiece) – & then I’ll pour forth all I can think of about you young, & we old, & novels – how damned they are – & poetry, how dead.

It must have taken place in the early ‘twenties when I was about six. I was, as usual, playing in the gardens in Gordon Square when she walked in through the main entrance. She was with someone else and when they came near to where I was playing she spoke to me and I spoke to her; it was nothing special, just a short exchange between aunt and niece, but it impressed me because of what I had heard while having my elevenses in the kitchen. The servants of Bloomsbury were a community of their own and gossip passed from one house to another largely on the lips of charwomen.

And this had conjured up a picture in my mind of a wild and distraught person, perhaps eccentrically dressed, perhaps striding about and spouting poetry while quite unaware of all that was going on around her, perhaps tearing her hair, yelling or making some other sort of scene. But that wasn’t at all the Mrs W I met. This one was quietly dressed in dark clothes, wearing a hat, and talking to a companion as she strolled round the gardens. What is more, she noticed me and spoke to me in a far more friendly and interested way than most of the grown-ups I met.

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