Woolf in the World: A Pen and a Press of Her Own

Jacob's Room

Jacob's RoomJacob’s Room was Virginia Woolf’s first novel to be published by the Hogarth Press. A more fragmented novel than her earlier two, Jacob’s Room was published the same year as T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Reviews by contemporary writers, such as E. M. Forster, are bound in at the end of Lytton Strachey’s copy of the novel, shown here; most are complimentary. Publishing her own works gave Virginia Woolf the control she needed to write experimentally. Other publishers were not ready for her modernist style or feminist sensibility.

Virginia Woolf. Jacob’s Room. Richmond: Hogarth Press, 1922. Dust jacket designed by Vanessa Bell. Uncut subscriber’s copy, including subscriber’s ticket: This copy of “Jacob’s Room” is issued to “Lytton Strachey Esq.” as an A Subscriber to the Hogarth Press and is therefore signed by the Author: “Virginia Woolf, Oct. 1922.”

Subscriber's ticket

After reading Woolf’s third novel, Strachey remarked that he saw “something of Thoby” in Jacob. This of course was intentional, as Woolf based the main character upon her elder brother, who died of typhoid fever in 1906. Strachey also found Woolf’s prose “more like poetry... than anything else—how you manage to leave out everything that’s dreary, and yet retain enough string for your pearls I can hardly understand.” In response to Strachey’s comment that she was in “danger of becoming George-Meredithian in style,” she writes: “Of course you put your infallible finger upon the spot—romanticism. How did I catch it? Not from my father. I think it must have been my great Aunts. But some of it, I think, comes from the effort of breaking with complete representation. One flies into the air. Next time, I mean to stick closer to facts.”

Strachey letter to Wolf Strachey letter to Wolf
Woolf letter to Strachey
Lytton Strachey. Letter to Virginia Woolf,
9 October 1922.
Virginia Woolf. Letter to Lytton
Strachey, 9 October 1922.

Presented by Frances Hooper ’14.
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

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