Hello! Welcome to the first issue of The Virginia Woolf Zine. It has now been over a century since Woolf published her first novel, The Voyage Out, and yet she still remains one of the most discussed authors of modern times. Perhaps, as Virginia considered in 1929, Shakespeare never had a sister, but Woolf herself stands out as a possible surrogate, a literary counterpart, quoted, adored and referenced as much as the bard.
reviews and diatribes, the name Woolf is now a nexus - a cultural connection between art forms, book lovers and academic debates. Woolf inspired many of her contemporaries, and has been the calling point for generations of feminists. She stands a complicated figure, and has had criticism levelled at her from every angle. So, why, if so much work on Woolf has been written, does this zine need to exist? Because Woolf is still inspiring writers, creatives, academics and young girls in their bedrooms.
The figure of Woolf in modern culture stands as a palimpsest, written and rewritten over time.
Our aim is to curate new thinking about Woolf, bringing together both traditional and unorthodox responses to her work and life.
Just as her Virginia’s own work spans criticism, novels, short stories, diaries, letters, gossip, polemics,
We want to go beyond the boundaries of academic work, to burst out of journals and give anyone who wants it
the opportunity to write about Woolf, from whichever angle they may choose. The first issue is entitled ‘The Multiple Mrs Woolf’ , attending to the many different Virginia’s that now exist. Each issue, our illustrator Ilaria Apostoli will be giving a creative response to one of Woolf’s works. This issue is Mrs Dalloway.. We hope you enjoy, and consider submitting to our second issue! You can follow us @ woolfzine and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A special thanks to all our wonderful contributors. Enjoy their criticism, stories and art! All The
Cover illustration Gaëlle Kervella Instagram: @ga_ker
// Review // Virginia Woolf in What would say were you to meet your hero or heroine? For Maggie Gee, or at least Angela Lamb, the protagonist of Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, one sentence wasn’t enough – she wrote a whole novel. Gee, Lamb and myself all have one thing in common – a love for Virginia Woolf. In fact, I admit it, I have a major girl crush on her.
Beautiful, creative, deep, thoughtful, she’s the woman I would love to be, if it wasn’t for the sometimes tortured existence and tragic ending of her life. But what would the real Virginia be like, not the Virginia fabricated through my own nostalgic and sentimental image of her? And especially what would she be like today, in 2014?
In this three part novel Maggie Gee uses her usual witty and comic manner to discover this very question. Unable to find the
n Manhattan // Maggie Gee // manuscripts she seeks in the New York Public Library, best selling author Angela Lamb discovers something better – albeit far more difficult to control: Virginia Woolf herself. Interwoven are the stories of three women, Virginia, Angela, and Angela’s daughter Gerda, traversing the world literally, as well as that of family, responsibility, maturity, friendship, and literature. It’s a
playful piece, with stories including Virginia’s trip to McDonalds, a holiday romance in Istanbul, and Gerda’s escape from boarding school, but also touching in its exploration of the relationships between the women. Reference is made to Woolf ’s own work, which is a nice touch for those of us sentimental about the writer,
but not a detraction for those unfamiliar with her. Sparkling prose and witty dialogue throughout, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan is not as profound as A Room of One’s Own, or as existential as To The Lighthouse, (neither of which I am sure was her aim), but is a fun and easy read in which one of the world’s most famous modernists and her modern counterparts grapple with the madness of modernity. - Francesa Baker
â€˜ The waves broke on the shoreâ€™, the final line of The Waves, my favorite of Woolf's novels. - Erica Waters
“All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are ‘sides’, and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly
ornamenta l pot. As people mature they cease to believe in sides or in He a d m a s t e r s or in highly ornamenta l pots [...] 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, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.” To me this great call to arms, to get on and be creative is possibly the most i n s pi r at iona l spur I have read.
As one of those people who did well at school by being wellbehaved but in adulthood struggle with taking the risks to be creative, it is a useful reminder to do things because you want to, and because you have things you want to express, not just to do things expected of you for some idea of being rewarded and hoping for a pat on the head for effort. - Lucy Dunn
Piligrimage I’m here at last. I’ve come to this patch of southern England known as “Bloomsbury in Sussex” to pay homage to my hero and muse, Virginia Woolf. I’ve been a little anxious since we boarded the bus in Lewes; as it chugged into the East Sussex countryside, which unfolded like a photo spread in a coffee table book, passing Mount Caburn—its cliffs dotted with swooping hang gliders—farms and fields with tall summer grains and grasses backed by the chalky South Downs. My tightly-choreographed itinerary will allow us to visit its two celebrated shrines, Charleston Farmhouse and Monks House, on this August Wednesday in 1993. It will, won’t it? I discovered Woolf when I accompanied my then-partner on a six-month academic exchange in England’s West Country three years ago. I was in my mid-40s, between jobs, between worlds, at a critical junction in my life. A Writer’s Diary was on the shelf of the house where we were living. In this slim volume, compiled by her husband shortly after her death, she discusses her writing and reading, influences and inspirations. I was roused by her keen observations and awed by her eloquence, the way she could capture a person, place, or mood in a few well-chosen words. Is it trite to say that she spoke to me? I was drawn to her prose like a lifeline, like Oliver Twist to a stack of pancakes dripping with butter and syrup: “Please, I want more.” With days of leisure at
my disposal, I started working my way through her novels. Curled up with endless cups of tea and the dark chocolate digestive biscuits that remain my weakness, I marveled at her forays into ever-new territory— enthralled by Mrs. Dalloway, stirred by To the Lighthouse, astonished at The Waves. I read and read, reflecting on writers and writing and life—her life, my life. Thus began my ongoing passion, leading eventually to my own writing and scholarship. I’ve planned this return trip for a year. It was to be a solo journey with a Woolfian agenda. So when Don, a painter, musician, and avowed Anglophile whom I’ve been dating for just a few months, expresses wistful envy at my plans, I surprise us both by blurting out, “Come with me!” What have I done, I think. Please say no! But his response is an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes.” I don’t change the itinerary I’ve planned, and now, after two weeks in London, Cambridge and Yorkshire, I have no regrets. We’re lodged at a B&B in Lewes operated by Mrs. Jones and guarded by her Alsatian, Humphrey; we travel well together and will continue to do so for the next 20-plus years. We walk up the curving path to our destination. Charleston Farmhouse was the rural cultural mecca of the Bloomsbury group of artists and intellectuals, the home of post-impressionist painters Vanessa Bell—Woolf’s
sister—and Bell’s companion, Duncan Grant. Virginia Woolf discovered this working farm during World War I on one of her many walks across the Downs from her own home, Monks House in nearby Rodmell. She told Vanessa: “If you lived there you could make it absolutely divine.” And they did. It’s just as I’ve seen it in so many books and paintings. The house sits to the left through a narrow gateway, a twostory 16th-century stone structure with red and green fingers of ivy scaling the peach-washed exterior. On the right is the pond immortalized by Bell and Grant in paintings and photographs: children frolicking in and around it, family and friends—the “Bloomsberries”—communing by its side. Lytton Strachey, his long limbs strewn across a lounge chair, regales the company with his mordant wit; T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Maynard Keynes and other demigods—Woolf herself, of course—hold forth. It’s 11 a.m. when we arrive at Charleston Farmhouse. It doesn’t open until noon, but I’ve brought bread and cheese, fruit and drinks, which we enjoy on a wooden bench next to the pond. We exchange pleasantries with two men picnicking at another bench: “Lovely day…” “Perfect spot….” We’re at the head of the line for the first of the afternoon’s guided tours, and follow the docent from room to room. I nearly gasp at the visual avalanche. Every surface of the house and its furnishings— walls, doors and windows,
mantels, tables, beds, lamps, even sinks and tubs—has been decorated, painted, and festooned by the resident artists. In the dining room, which had been the heart of the house, we see the big round table that was designed and painted by Vanessa; the painting studio displays Vanessa and Duncan’s side-by-side easels. In an upstairs room we’re shown a small table by the window where Maynard Keynes—a frequent guest before buying a neighboring property—wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace. The guides are knowledgeable and entertaining. They talk about the house’s history and its painstaking restoration, the artwork and ornamentation, and, best of all, anecdotes and gossip about the occupants themselves— the ménages and scandals, who was bedding whom within the infamous and incestuous circle. The tales vary in content and raciness with different guides,
and in subsequent visits I will hear new and different stories, altered versions. Like fish tales, they take on added size and color over time and retelling. The tour lasts an hour, after which we hurry through the garden and grounds. We’re eager to set off for Rodmell, and there’s no more time to spare. Virginia Woolf used to traipse across these downs regularly to visit her sister, striding over in the morning and back in the afternoon. I’m certain from my maps and research that we have enough time to get to Monks House before it closes for the day. “Oh, no dear,” says the woman in the gift shop to whom I mention my plan, “one can’t possibly walk there before closing time.” Yes we can, I think. We’re fast walkers and it’s only a few miles. No; it would take us a few hours, she says, or more since we’re not familiar with the route—a series of meandering footpaths
through woods, up and down steep hills, across and muddy fields and farms with bellowing livestock. We can’t take the bus or train either. Though they’re just a short distance apart, the two places are on different routes, and getting from one to another is difficult at most times, impossible at others. (I later wonder why no one suggested a cab; we will use them on future trips.) But we have to go today, I explain; this is the only afternoon during our stay that Monks House will be open to the public. I wail my desperation, like a toddler who’s dropped her ice cream cone on the pavement: “What am I going to do?” Anthony and David, the men we’d greeted at the pond, overhear us. “We’re going to Monks House,” Anthony says, “but we’re in a mini-van and have dogs in the back. We’d help you, but we don’t have room.” I sniff my thanks, and we trudge down to the road
to take the bus back to Lewes. A van pulls up alongside us: “If you don’t mind riding in the back with three frisky whippets, you’re welcome to come along,” says Anthony. “But it won’t be very comfortable, and you may get frightfully dirty.” Dirt be damned, I think, as we climb in with the dogs, delicate tan and white doelike creatures. They sniff us curiously, then settle down. Anthony is stocky with a broad face and round protruding eyes; you’d expect him to have beefy bulldogs rather than these wiry whippets. He has driven down from Scotland to visit David in nearby Brighton. David is soft-spoken and reserved in the shadow of Anthony’s expansiveness. Art and literature aficionados, they are exploring museums and historic houses, and this is their first visit to these Bloomsbury Circle outposts. Anthony consults his map before he pulls out onto the road: back to Lewes, south on the Brighton road. It sounds straightforward, but on the first go we end up on the wrong road headed in another direction. On the second try, Anthony misses the turnoff and has to drive almost into Brighton in order to turn back. “Don’t worry,” he reassures us, “we’ll be there in a tic.” I’m facing backwards on the floor of the van, fighting nausea. I start to panic; it’s close to four. There’s a thudding in my ears—ka-boom-a-boom, kaboom-a-boom—an amplified clock, a time bomb, my heart. And then, Rodmell. We follow the signs to Monks House, a half-mile or so at the end of the village’s one narrow
lane. Behind a stone wall, its back to the street, I recognize the house right away. We sprint from the dirt parking lot, runners on the final push to the finish line, and reach the entrance minutes before last admissions. I’m in Virginia Woolf’s hallowed halls. A mantra courses through my head: She sat in this room, she walked on this path, she wrote in this chair. The sitting room reflects their frugal life, worn and comfortable seating arced around the fireplace. The walls are a cool fern green, with the cozy feel of an animal’s mosslined den. The garden occupies a double lot and is divided into separate areas that include Leonard’s meticulously laid out and still maintained flower beds and vegetable garden; a pond bounded by hedges for solo contemplation or hushed conversation; busts of Virginia and Leonard on a garden wall, sentries over their buried ashes; a close-cropped expanse of grass where they played “bowls”—lawn bowling—with visitors. Virginia’s writing room, a small freestanding shed, sits at the back of the garden under a horse chestnut tree, next to the old church wall. Don takes a photo of me on its steps, gazing out, as she did, on the river plain and the downs. Anthony and David drive us back to the B&B in Lewes, on what turns out to be the direct road to Rodmell. We’ll remember that next time. We will stay in touch with Anthony, and on our next trip over, two years later, we’ll visit him and the whippets in Edinburgh, where I will have my first and last taste of haggis. We will return to Lewes, to the
same B&B with Mrs. Jones and Humphrey. We will make sure to visit Charleston Farmhouse and Monks House on separate days. My “Virginia Woolf thing”— as bemused friends have called it—will remain an important touchstone in my life, and I will return to the well for frequent nourishment. Don and I will come here for our honeymoon and for another 10 visits, drawn by the region’s cultural ambiance, and its crisp air and untrammeled beauty, as much as by the Woolfian aura. We’ll rent a cottage in Rodmell, just a few doors from Monks House, which will become our annual launching pad for hikes on the downs and to the coast, explorations of neighboring villages and pubs—no two alike—churches, gardens, galleries, and shops. I’ll spend hours in the back garden of Monks House, reading, sketching, writing, idling. We will, many times, fulfill my dream of rambling over the Downs from Rodmell to Charleston Farmhouse just as Virginia did. The route is now a familiar one. And we take a taxi back to our village home.
- Alice Lowe This piece was originally published in Bloom (www. bloom-site.com) in June 2014.
cts Mrs Dalloway - Disrupti It was a bit depressing, the review said to me. A two-star review of some Disability Book / Mental Illness Book / Book About Things They Don’t Want to Hear About. Sometimes I scroll through Amazon reviews of books about people like me, mentally ill people, sad people, people whose feelings get messy enough that no one wants to clean them up anymore. No one except Virginia Woolf has ever held those feelings, no one else has painstakingly funneled and compressed and threaded my hopelessness into poetry. That includes myself, though sometimes I fancy myself a writer. I’m not that good yet. Maybe one day, when I’m no longer in a college dorm and thus have a Room of My Own. But that’s not today. I have struggled to find books about people like me and have
thus struggled to parse together words about the way I see the world. My lens is already obscured by a world that doesn’t want me. That doesn’t want a Mentally Unstable perspective to make it into the mainstream, or even the “subversive” literary canon. I felt this all the more as a closeted gay and trans high school student who couldn’t tell anyone about their mental issues either, at a school in which it wasn’t safe to be any of those things. A school that, like most, taught books by those Old White Men, who, despite criticisms by some more progressively minded book lovers and educators and academics, still take up space in the literary canon. Manspreading all over the literary universe, denying space to Atwood and Smith and Morrison and Austen and Angelou and Shelley and Tan and Plath and Dickinson and
Walker and Brontë and Brontë and Brontë and, yes, Woolf. Then I was a senior in high school, still closeted in all senses of the word and, although feeling the oppressive silence thrust upon me by all of these things, was more hotheaded than ever before. Then, Mrs. Dalloway made its way into my hands; on its insides, descriptions of mental illness written far before fake-smiling false-promising organizations vowed to “fight stigma”, long before somber voices at the end of TV Specials reminded us crazies to get help and call numbers that’d get us institutionalized faster than you can say “suicide”. We watch a traumatized man, Septimus Warren Smith, experience medical injustice and we feel sympathy for him, for his wife. The doctors are the
ing Literary Expectations villains; by turns invalidating and power-hungry. Medical paternalism is at is peak; doctors drunk on power by the supposed superiority that their ideas of empirical knowledge provide them. Unaware or unwilling to admit that “fact” is subjective and by no means foolproof. Science / medicine is used and abused to support white, male, abled (straight, cis, etc.) norms, and this is the source of Septimus’s suffering under medical “care”. Woolf’s critique of medical authority and its relationship with patriarchal power (the latter of which is a central point of criticism throughout the novel) is as subtle as it is powerful. Septimus is a sympathetic hero. We feel for him. He is mentally unstable as the result of trauma, and he is valuable as a person. Not but, but and. In the reader’s
mind and in Woolf’s, there is never a question as to who is “correct” in their assessment of Septimus’s situation, the doctor or the man himself. It is us and Septimus who are right in feeling for Septimus and acutely acknowledge the injustices he faces; the doctors are perpetrators of evil. Ultimately, Septimus commits suicide not because he is Crazy or Beyond Help but because he wants to be free. Because he, and Woolf, and we the reader understand that under the social conditions he is subject to, he will never be free. Woolf’s subversion of traditional medical narratives left me speechless, especially when remembered as a Crazy Woman herself. A Crazy Woman who would have been the target of those patronizing public-service-announcements; a Crazy Woman who would
have been well-acquainted with the 72 hour hold. Who may well have had her rights stripped by way of “legal insanity”. A crazy woman, a crazy person like me. Someone who places the words on my tongue that I need in order to subvert the cruel order under which we still live. Ms. Woolf, I salute you. Not simply for your incredible writing abilities, your engrossing literature, your wellearned role as one of the most prolific woman writers–one of the most prolific writers, full stop– in history. I salute you because you speak on my behalf, you speak and spoke on behalf of so many who are denied a voice themselves. And what a beautiful voice it is you speak with. - Sarah Cavar
Virginia Â˛ AngelsÂ˛ series focuses on literature, film, music, fashion geniuses that, because of pressure, or because fame could not fill some gaps, succumbed to suicide or various abuses that caused their death. Each portrait meet mexican Catrinas and post-mortem photographs of the Victorian era, measuring one square meter, and composed of 10,000 faces of these geniuses when they were children. Because fame kills innocence, these artworks combine the known commercial/media image and the forgotten innocent childhood and death, sometimes the ultimate step in their marketing plan.
10 000 pictures of Virginia, young // 100 x 100 cm // Angels series - (c) Charlie Wayne
Contributors Editor Sean Richardson - T: @SouthLDNTabby Collaborative partners Cover Art: Gaelle Kervella - IG: @ga_ker Illustrator: Ilaria Apostoli - IG: @IlariaApostoli Illustrators and Artists Woolf Art: Phyllida Jacobs - T: @PhyllidaJacobs Woolf Tattoo: Harriet Rose Heath - IG: @LoneRoseTattoo Charlie Wayne - FB: IamCharlieWayne W: www.charliewayne.fr Writers Lucy Dunn Erica Waters Sarah Cavar Drema Drudge - W: www.dremadrudge.com Alice Lowe - W: www.aliceloweblogs.wordpress.com. Francesca Baker - T: @andsoshethinks W: www.andsoshethinks. co.uk Want to submit? T: @woolfzine W: www.woolfzine.wordpress.com E: email@example.com
“Looking For Virginia” "What are you looking for?" I tip the bookshelf, leaking words onto the puddle of papers, papers, papers that are all that hold me in this house. Answers, answers he will never understand tinge my tongue. "Virginia." Now he will dig and delve into the hallowed dalloways of my mind and. He cannot. He crabs my hands with his frigid old man no sympathy hands, hairs on their sides like my stepbrother's. Stepbrothers. Men with minds to hurt and hands to halt the galloping growth of might haves. "Leonard, don't touch me." The icicle of me uvulas in the word winds. Doctors voodoo a nothing for me. They loose the mother inside me, the sanity scrap bag; knitting a shawl of should haves I cover the mirror of beauty which is reality but not truth, opened the door that ate my muse. Mrs. Ramsey will not take it -- she dies for beauty. Scarcely is she adjusted…Leonard… did I write that? No? Words, my waifish children, load empty hobo sacks onto heavy burdened backs and don't wave. I sing them a lullaby of the crawdad, cavefish, cravefish. Gravefish. I wanted something once, didn't I, Leonard? Leonard? I suck the soul from my sister and knit it to my own, but it always goes home, unknotted by her own lazy susan heart that twirls in the direction of the man with the predilection for a (up)standing erection. I children my pockets with stones, write my memories goodbye and Leonard? Leonard? No. Just swim. Go.
- Drema Drudge