Oh, what a damned bore!”
Virginia Woolf, 39, had written to a friend this past summer.
She had been ill—and not working—for so long.
But now that it is autumn, with lovely weather and long walks out here in the countryside, she is feeling better and writing better than before.
Monk’s House, Rodmell
Virginia and her husband, Leonard, 40, had recently bought a used platen machine for their expanding Hogarth Press, which they run out of their London home. Virginia’s short story collection, Monday or Tuesday, which they published earlier this year, is selling well. And she is now close to finishing her next novel, Jacob’s Room.
One of many interruptions this month was the visit this past weekend of their friend, poet Tom Eliot, just turning 33. Virginia hadn’t been looking forward to it. She had written to her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, 42,
I suppose you wdn’t come for the 24th? When Eliot will be here?”
But Vanessa wasn’t available.
His stay turned out to be uneventful. Lots of chat about writing and books. Virginia confides in her diary that Tom’s visit
passed off successfully…& yet I am so disappointed to find that I am no longer afraid of him—”
Eliot hadn’t mentioned this to the Woolfs this past weekend, but he is looking forward to a visit to a London nerve specialist. His wife, Vivien, 33, has made the appointment for him because they have both agreed that his job at Lloyds Bank, a summer visit from his American family, and his work on a major poem, are all affecting his health. They may be moving out of hectic London soon and are hoping that an upcoming trip to Paris to visit fellow ex-pat American poet Ezra Pound, 36, might help. He and Pound are going to work together on editing the poem.
Vivien and Tom Eliot
Vivien writes to one of their friends, jokingly, that she is seeking help for Tom but hasn’t “nearly finished my own nervous breakdown yet.”
But Vivien has written a much longer letter to her brother-in-law, archaeologist Henry Ware Eliot, 41, just gone back home to St. Louis. Not joking, she confides that she knows her husband is not in love with her anymore. And Vivien adds a postscript,
Good-bye Henry…And be personal, you must be personal, or else it’s no good. Nothing’s any good.”
“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 in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in 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 available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.