About 10 days ago, novelist Virginia Woolf, just turned 40 and still recovering from a second bout of influenza, wrote in her diary,
I have taken it into my head that I shan’t live till seventy…Suppose, I said to myself the other day[,] this pain over my heart wrung me out like a dish cloth & left me dead?…[Last summer I had] two whole months rubbed out.”
Now her husband, Leonard, 41, has moved her bed downstairs to the living room, which is less lonely for her and more convenient for both of them. She’s reading more—Moby Dick and a biography of Lord Salisbury—writing a little and receiving visitors. Including her brother-in-law, Clive Bell, 40, whom she describes as “all bottom and a little flaxen wig,”
Clive Bell by Roger Fry
But Virginia’s temperature has been elevated at consistently 99.5 degrees, and she has been feeling quite competitive with her friend, fellow novelist Katherine Mansfield, 33. The Saturday Westminster Gazette is serializing Mansfield’s short story “The Garden Party” and a collection of her stories will soon be coming out as a book.
Today, Virginia writes in her diary,
K. M. [Mansfield] bursts upon the world in glory next week…I have to hold over [my novel] Jacob’s Room…til October; & I somehow fear that by that time it will appear to me sterile acrobatics…[I am feeling] all dissipated & invalid-ish…What a twelve months it has been for writing!—& I at the prime of life, with little creatures in my head which won’t exist if I don’t let them out!”
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at email@example.com.
Our celebration of the belated 148th birthday of my fellow Pittsburgher Gertrude Stein will be this Thursday, February 17, at 7 pm, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill. You can register for this free event, or sign up to watch it via Zoom, here.
At the end of the month I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.