On her birthday today, Virginia Woolf might be amused by all these generations of reproduction of her image: a 2010 scan for a blog, of a 2006 photo of a 1998 drawing of a 1920’s photo, from the cover of her published diaries.
I drew the picture (recognizing the weakness of my likeness titled it a “Bloomsbury woman”), and I taped it to the top of a tin full of cookies to give a friend on another January 25.
Virginia Woolf would surely be pleased that she still matters to so many (a young writer friend told me recently that she read all Woolf’s novels in the order they were published). And how intrigued Woolf would be to Google herself.
Janet Malcolm’s 1995 New Yorker article introduced me to the whole complicated Bloomsbury scene and to Woolf’s sister, the painter Vanessa Bell. And most of all to Charleston, Bell’s Sussex home – a work of art as a house, full of clever, imaginative, happy decoration, good design sense, and comfort in an austere, by modern terms, way. My surprise and fascination stemmed in part from what Malcolm revealed about the artful way the sisters arranged their houses and lives to value creativity and encourage their work.
I often wonder about writers from another time like Virginia Woolf – now would she blog – or tweet? In addition to Woolf’s fiction, she wrote newspaper articles and critical essays, and above all she kept the diary that continues to resonate.
When we shipped our books from Alaska (many small heavy boxes including a motley assortment of most of Woolf’s writing), a cranky post office clerk opined that television was better than books anyway, because books get out of date.
Not Virginia Woolf – 128 years later – Happy Birthday VW and thank you!