Happy Birthday Virginia Woolf


Born on this day, 25th January, in 1882 in Kensington. Some wonderful quotes on writing to celebrate:

“My writing now delights me solely because I love writing and don’t, honestly, care a hang what anyone says. What seas of horror one dives through in order to pick up these pearls – however they are worth it.”

— Diary January 1915

“I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.”

— Diary, February 17, 1922

And from A Room of One’s Own:

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery.”


“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

I had also hoped to include the recording of her voice, some of which is used in the Wolf Works ballet and the video below.

But I hit a problem – in the UK rights restrictions mean I cannot get access. However the admirable Maria Popova, Brainpicker supreme, being US based, can and has included it on her site. You can find it here on Brainpickings.


‘Woolf Works’ revival at The Royal Opera House


Choreographer Wayne McGregor’s acclaimed ballet triptych Woolf Works begins its first revival tonight, January 21st, at Covent Garden. Oh to be there!

As you likely know, each of the three acts draws on one of Woolf’s landmark novels, Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves, intertwined with elements from her letters, essays and diaries, her marriage and relationships.

One of the principal ballerinas dancing in the work is Sarah Lamb, and I’ve just come across a fabulous video portrait of her performing an excerpt from the ballet. The soundtrack is from the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf speaking.

It is both poignant and powerful, not unlike Woolf’s own work:

The video is directed by Malcolm Venville for cultural video website Nowness where, from a quick browse, there’s a lot more good stuff.

Judy Rodrigues at Dimbola

Judy Rodrigues: Two Stories, an exhibition of paintings and research material, opens this coming week at Dimbola, near Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight.


The exhibition focuses primarily “on the Freshwater landscape and Dimbola as a catalyst and meeting place for an exploration into the work of D. H. Lawrence’s novel The Trespasser, Helen Corke’s In our Infancy and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and The Waves.”

‘Perhaps it was the middle of January in the present year that I first looked up and saw the mark on the wall. In order to fix a date it is necessary to remember what one saw.’
Virginia Woolf, 1917

According to the Press Release:
‘Judy’s work is engaged with the poetic dialogues between writers and painters and the elemental environments that form the nature and development of their work.’

The exhibition will be shown alongside material from the Dimbola archive including photographs of the young sisters Vanessa and Virginia Stephens [later Bell and Woolf] and original photographs taken by Patti Smith at Charleston and Monks House.

Dimbola Lodge, now a museum and exhibition space, was the home of pioneering photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, especially celebrated for her groundbreaking close-up photographic portraits.


Portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Julia Prinsep Jackson, later Julia Stephen, Cameron’s niece and the mother of Virginia Woolf.

Cameron was also great-aunt to the Stephens sisters; Virginia Woolf’s parents first met at Dimbola, and the lodge provides the setting for VW’s only play, the three act comedy Freshwater.

The play is a gentle satire of the bohemian world of her great-aunt; this became known as the Freshwater circle and included Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson, who lived nearby at Farringford, and the sculptor and painter G.F. Watts.

In January 1935 Virginia rewrote the play and it was performed in Vanessa’s studio at 8 Fitzroy Street by and for members of the Bloomsbury Group.

Judy Rodrigues: Two Stories
20th January – 16th April
Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight
Preview on Thursday the 19th Jan 6-8pm.

website: http://www.dimbola.co.uk/