Thursday, 9 September 2010

Virginia Woolf's Diary

The plaque commemorating Virgina and Leonard Woolf and their Hogarth Press.
The front door. Some very famous people crossed this threshold.
Hogarth House, Paradise Road, Richmond upon Thames

I've been reading Virginia Woolf's diary recently.As far as diaries go it is a perfect piece of writing, a great diary to read.It's clear and has a smooth effortless quality. She makes you feel that she is actually talking to you. You feel as though you are there with her.

Unfortunately, she was an elitist and looked down at the majority of humanity. She had the bad habit of making people feel small and ignored. Her close associates and friends were all academics and the leading lights of society. She had been abused and so damaged in her childhood. You can understand why she was the way she was.

From 1917 she lived at Hogarth House in Paradise Road, Richmond upon Thames, with her husband Leonard Woolf.There they set up The Hogarth Press, named after the house.

Hogarth House is four miles from where I live on the other side of Richmond Park. Yesterday I cycled to the park, chained my bike to the fence in the car park at the Kingston entrance and then jogged through the park into Richmond.

When I got to Paradise Road I took some pictures of Hogarth House. What fascinated me after reading Virginia's diaries, were the people they had to dinner and who had crossed that threshold into that house.

Some who visited on numerous occasions, were Sydney and Beatrice Webb, the social reformers, Duncan Grant the artist, Lytton Strachey the great Victorian biographer, Gertler, Clive Bell, Roger Fry the art critic, Katherine Mansfield, who was a great friend of Virginia Woolf's, Vita Sackville West, another intimate friend, T.S. Elliot, Aldous Huxley and Maynard Keynes, the world famous economist.He was a close friend of both the Woolfs.Very often these people would come down from London by train to Richmond Station and walk up the road to Hogarth House.

Aldous Huxley and T S Elliot both had their books printed and published from this building as well as Virginia's own novels. Virginia couldn't live in the centre of London, her depressions became worse in the busy city, although she often went up to Bloomsbury on the train. She and Lytton Strachey, after all, were the two main leading lights of the famous Bloomsbury Group. Her sister, Vanessa, had a house in Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, that she would stay at.

Hogarth House is now a solicitors office. If ever it needs a new tenant, a museum to the literatti of the early twentieth century wouldn't be a bad thing.People would be drawn from all over the world I am sure.

1 comment:

  1. Tony, I always wondered why I did not have warm, fuzzy feelings towards Virginia Woolf. Well, now I know: "She was an elitist and looked down at the majority of humanity. She had the bad habit of making people feel small and ignored."

    Perfect description!