The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

November 25, 2013

November 25, 1917

Virginia Woolf (January 25,  1882 to March 28, 1941) was born a writer: her father edited the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and she grew up in the rarified atmosphere of intellectual conversing.  She had a stout reputation as a literary critic, and one novel under her belt, on the Sunday whose diary entry we excerpt: November 25, 1917.

I don't like Sunday, the best thing is to make it a work day....Such a wind in the night, by the way, that the milkman reported much damage down the road this morning,...[and] raised our hopes, which were dashed on going out to see nothing smashed, not even a stain of blood, or a remnant of a hat. It was fine and wet by turns with a high cold wind continuously. We went to Kew [Royal Botanic Gardens] and saw a blazing bush as red as cherry blossom, but more intense,- frostily red- also gulls rising and falling for pieces of meat, their crowd waved aside suddenly by three very elegant light gray cranes. We also went into the orchid house where these sinister reptiles live in a tropical heat, so that they come out in all their spotted ...[and] streaked flesh even now in the cold. They always make me anxious to bring them into a novel. L [her husband Leonard] went on into Hampstead and I back here [Hogarth House, Richmond Upon Thames -- a London suburb] where I had tea in the kitchen with the Manx cat. L saw Margaret and discussed labor I suppose and his book. I wish my range extended so far....

[The next day] I went into London with my ms....

The manuscript was a review to be printed in the Times Literary Supplement, a review of Life and Letters of Stopford Brooke by L. P. Jacks. It was published November 29, 1917. 

And we know all this because Woolf's diaries were edited by 
Anne Olivier Bell (the wife of Woolf's nephew).  Our excerpt comes from The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume 1, 1915-1919  (1977), and Bell's labor allows us a glimpse of London, in the fall, almost a hundred years ago as an iconic 20th century voice noted it. 

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