Woolf's Letter to Quentin Bell: 17 February, 1929
Virginia writes this entertaining letter to her nineteen-year-old nephew while she is recuperating in London from the side effects of the barbiturate Somnifene. She is writing the final version of A Room of Ones Own after the resounding success the previous October of Orlando, a fictional biography of Woolfs lover Vita Sackville-West. London was enduring one of the hardest frosts on record and Woolf describes the scene from her window: a feeble copy of the frost scene in Orlandoicicles, dead cats, frozen bread & butter on the leads.
Quentin was named Claudian Stephen Bell at birth, but was known as Quentin when he became two. Virginia teases her nephew about his name saying Claudian is a secretive marble faced steady eyed deliberate villain while Quentin is an adorable creature & Im sorry hes been sloughed (sluffed) like the gold & orange skin of the rare Mexican tsee-tsee snake.
Virginia also discusses Raymond Mortimer who is just back from America and reports that it is a ghastly country, of stunted development. Neither man nor woman has reached the age of puberty. They talk very slowly all day long & never listen. Woolf never visited the United States, although many of her papers are now preserved in American repositories, including more than 150 letters and manuscripts at Smith College in the collection assembled by Frances Hooper 14.
Frances Hooper Collection of Virginia