Woolf in the World: A Pen and a Press of Her Own
Woolf was writing Jacob’s Room in 1921, but had to break off from fiction writing to earn money for printing paper: “I shall write an article on Dorothy Wordsworth and so pay for our new sheets.” In her letter, Woolf also contrasts her style to Mansfield’s: “What I admire in you so much is your transparent quality.” In Jacob’s Room: “I’m always, chopping & changing from one level to another. I think what I’m at is to change the consciousness, & so to break up the awful stodge... I feel as if I didn’t want just all realism any more—only thoughts & feelings—no cups & tables.”
Woolf also talks about the genesis of her short story, “A Society,” which was published along with other short pieces in Monday or Tuesday: “Like an idiot I lost my temper with Arnold Bennett and wasted my time writing a foolish violent, I suppose unnecessary satire... Suppose some poor wretch who wanted to write was put off by that little grocer?” Mansfield particularly admired “Kew Gardens” from Monday or Tuesday.
In the letter, Woolf also gossips about her friends T. S. Eliot and Lytton Strachey: “I like Eliot, & pity him, as if he suffered a great deal from having acquired a shell which he can’t lift off. Meanwhile all sorts of things grow underneath, very painfully. But this is guess work. We only make signs to each other. Lytton is as mellow as a pear. Queen Victoria is done, & he is set up for life on the proceeds.” Lytton Strachey dedicated his 1921 biography of Queen Victoria “To Virginia Woolf.”
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College