'The Passion of My Life' : Virginia Woolf and Her London



Year of publication 2015
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description This paper takes as its starting point six of Virginia Woolf's articles on London life, serialised in the Good Housekeeping magazine between December 1931 and December 1932, five of which were posthumously published as The London Scene (1975). Originally written for and published in this popular magazine concerned with domestic topics, these articles on various aspects of both public and private life in the 1930s London represent a departure in Woolf's usual choice of audience and style. While London features significantly in most of her writings, I argue that its image painted here is not simply as that of a place, but as a biographical subject akin to Woolf's other experiments in the genre, such as Orlando a fantastical human being who lives for several centuries and changes sex (Orlando: A Biography, 1928), or Flush – Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel (Flush: A Biography, 1933). Drawing on Jean Moorcroft Wilson's impressive Virginia Woolf : Life and London: A Biography of Place, where London features as one of the key markers of Woolf's own life, and furthermore Woolf's own diary entries and letters, as well as the six articles published in Good Housekeeping and the literature on them, I argue that London is equally a perpetual interest for Woolf – the biographer. Wilson's phrase 'a biography of place' therefore gets a complete twist, where London is no longer the place weaving itself into the author's life, but a living being that the author observes and shapes, in all its ugliness and beauty.
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