English novelist Virginia Woolf, 40, has just come down to breakfast, when her maid gives her some startling news,
Mrs. Murry’s dead! It says so in the paper,”
exclaims Nellie Boxall, 31.
Confused, Virginia reads the obituary in the Times, which describes her friend, New Zealand-born Katherine Mansfield, 34, as having “A career of great literary promise…[Her] witty and penetrating novel reviews…A severe shock to her friends.”
This is definitely a severe shock to Virginia. Last year she turned down Katherine’s invitation to visit her in France, and last fall passed up an opportunity to see Katherine when she was visiting London. She always thought that she’d see her again this summer.
Katherine’s book, Prelude, was one of the first Virginia and her husband Leonard, 41, published when they started their Hogarth Press about five years ago.
More deeply, Virginia is feeling the loss of one of the few writers she felt truly close to. Katherine won’t be there to read what Virginia writes. Her rival is gone.
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA. They are also on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at email@example.com.
Next month I will be talking the literary 1920s in Paris and New York City in the Osher 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.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.