Virginia Woolf in 1924

VW diary vol 2I’ve been struck down with a little bit of Reader’s Block it seems – not sure how pervasive yet – so I’ve not finished any more 1924 books yet. What terrible timing! I’m hoping to finish off one more before the week is out, but for today, let’s take a look at how Virginia Woolf greeted the year in her diary. Spoilers: it’s not with an egalitarian worldview. Or short paragraphs.

2 January 1924: The year is almost certainly bound to be the most eventful in the whole of our (recorded) career. Tomorrow I go up to London to look for houses; on Saturday I deliver sentence of death upon Nellie & Lottie; at Easter we leave Hogarth; in June Dadie comes to live with us; & our domestic establishments is entirely controlled by one woman, a vacuum cleaner, & electric stoves. Now how much of this is dream, & how much reality? I should like, very much, to turn to the last page of this virgin volume & there find my dreams true. It rests with me to substantiate them between now & then. I need not burden my entirely frivolous page with whys & wherefores, how we reached these decisions, so quick. It was partly a question of coal at Rodmell. Then Nelly presented her ultimatum – poor creature, she’ll withdraw it, I know, – about the kitchen. “And I must have a new stove, & it must be on the floor so that we can warm our feet; & I must have a window in that wall…” Must? Is must a word to be used to Princes? Such was our silent reflection as we received these commands, with Lottie skirmishing around with her own very unwise provisoes & excursions. “You won’t get two girls to sleep in one room as we do” &c. “Mrs Bell says you can’t get  drop of hot water in this house…” “So you won’t come here again, Nelly?” I asked. “No, ma’am, I won’t come here again” in saying which she spoke, I think, the truth. Meanwhile, they are happy as turtles, in front of a roaring fire in their own clean kitchen, having attended the sales, & enjoyed all the cheap diversions of Richmond, which begin to pall on me. Already I feel ten years younger. Life settles round one, living here for 9 years as we’ve done, merely to think of a change lets in the air. Youth is a matter of forging ahead. I see my contemporaries satisfied, outwardly; inwardly conscious of emptiness. What’s it for? they ask themselves now & then, when the new year comes, & can’t possibly upset their comfort for a moment. I think of the innumerable tribe of Booth, for example; all lodged, nested, querulous, & believing firmly that they’ve been enjoined so to live by our father which is in heaven. Now my state is infinitely better. Here am I launching forth into vacancy. We’ve two young people depending on us. We’ve no house in prospect. All is possibility & doubt. How far can we make publishing pay? And can we give up the Nation? & could we find a house better than Monks House? Yes, that’s cropped up, partly owing to the heaven sent address of Nelly. I turned into Thornton’s waiting for my train, & was told of an old house at Wilmington – I’m pleased to find [how] volatile our temperaments still are – & L[eonard] is steady as well, a triumph I can’t say I achieve – at the ages of 42 & 43 – for 42 comes tripping towards me, the momentous year.

Now it is six, my boundary, & I must read Montaigne, & cut short those other reflections about, I think, reading & writing which were to fill up the page. I ought to describe the walk from Charleston too, but can’t defraud Montaigne any longer. He gets better & better, & so I can’t scamp him, & rush into writing, & earn my 20 guineas as I hope. Did I record a tribute from Gosse: that I’m a nonentity, a scratch from Hudson, that the V.O. is rotten; & a compliment all the way from American from Rebecca West? Oh dear, oh dear, no boasting, aloud, in 1924. I didn’t boast at Charleston.


9 thoughts on “Virginia Woolf in 1924

  • October 29, 2015 at 12:01 am

    Oh I love that. Now of course you have me wanting those diaries.
    Hope the block clears soon.

    • October 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      I keep meaning actually to read them cover to cover. So far I’ve just dipped in and out over the past decade or so.

  • October 29, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Excellent. Blocks always go away in the end, fear not.

    • October 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      I will bide my time! Or turn to Agatha…

  • October 29, 2015 at 9:50 am

    What a lovely idea! I wanted to read Woolf for 19214 and was going to tackle some essays, but ran out of time. Hope the block clears soon, Simon – I hate it when that happens!

    • October 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      I thought it was a good way to sneak Virginia Woolf in ;) Like you with Russians, I’ll try to get the Bloomsbury Group in where possible :)

  • October 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I hope Nellie and Lottie are characters! Can’t actually remember the names of any of Woolf’s characters right now except Mrs. Dalloway.

    • October 29, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Sadly I’m pretty sure they were her servants, Kay!

  • October 30, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Oh no, reader’s block just when you don’t want it! I’ve read that volume of excerpts from her diaries, but not the whole thing. Hope the block clears soon …

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