#1938Club: Virginia Woolf and Stanley Spencer


As with the 1924 Club, I thought I’d see how Virginia Woolf started the year in 1938 – and, unrelated, found this beautiful 1938 painting by one of my absolute favourite artists: ‘Magnolias’ by Stanley Spencer. 1924 started well for Woolf; 1938 is a rather different matter. This is the first entry she wrote that year.

Sunday 9 January Yes, I will force myself to begin the cursed year. For one thing I have ‘finished’ the last chapter of Three Guineas, & for the first time since I don’t know when have stopped writing in the middle of the morning.

How am I to describe ‘anxiety’? I’ve battened it down under this incessant writing, thinking, about 3 Gs – as I did in the summer after Julian’s death. Rau has just been, & says there is still a trace of blood: if this continues, L. will have to go next week to a nursing home & be examined. Probably it is the prostate. This may mean an operation. We shall know nothing till Tuesday. What use is there in analysing the feelings of the past 3 weeks? He was suddenly worse at Rodmell; we came up on Wednesday: – the 28th or thereabouts; since when its been a perpetual strain of waiting for the telephone to ring. What does the analysis show &c? He went to the hospital to be X rayed; habitual, dulled; but only laid under a very thin cover. I walk; work, & so on. Nessa & Angelica & Duncan all at Cassis, which shuts off that relief, but why should she have this forced on her? Anyhow, they come back in a fortnight I suppose.

Harry Stephen, Judith, I think our only visitors. A dead season. No one rings up. Fine today. And the result of writing this page is to make me see how essential it is to steep myself in work; so back to 3 Guineas again. The the time passes. Writing this it flags.

9 thoughts on “#1938Club: Virginia Woolf and Stanley Spencer

  • April 16, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for that, I can honestly read anything she writes with enjoyment and have made the Stanley Spencer my screensaver.

    • April 16, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Excellent! I do love Spencer’s nature paintings so much. I think I might have to buy a print of this one,.

  • April 16, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    The Spencer is gorgeous – I love magnolia. I read the whole of VW’s diaries in my twenties – nothing like immersing yourself in a series of books like that – and the extract makes me want to do that all over again…

    • April 16, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Such a beautiful tree (and for such a boring paint colour!)
      I read vol 1 of the diaries straight through when I was 18, but since then I’ve only ever dipped in and out (and read A Writer’s Diary). One day I’ll do cover-to-cover on the diaries and letters.

  • April 17, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Sad that she was so sad. Hope the year improved for her!

  • April 17, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I love this panting. I live in an area of the city where there are lots of magnolias. Every spring, a friend and I do a magnolia walk, admiring all the trees. Too bad it rained so hard this year. They already lost their flowers.
    Lovely post.

  • April 18, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Love Stanley Spencer but feel for poor Virginia. I have read the edited diaries and the Writer’s Diary – I think I might re-read that if I manage to work my way through #Woolfalong, at which I have FAILED these last two months …

  • April 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    I am not familiar with Spencer, but that’s a lovely painting.

  • April 19, 2016 at 7:19 am

    There is actually a place in Cookham where you can see precisely that landscape with magnolia and the river just behind it – so yes, I feel especially close to Stanley Spencer. And I’m very pleased to see that I’m not the only one who turns every now and then to Virginia’s diaries to see what she thought/felt on a particular day.

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