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

Mr. Bennett and Mrs. BrownIn 1917 Virginia Woolf wrote a review of Arnold Bennett’s Books and Persons. In her review for the Times Literary Supplement, Woolf wonders what will happen if a novelist like herself does with words what the Post-Impressionists did with paint, and Mr. Bennett “has to admit that he has been concerning himself unduly with inessentials, that he has been worrying himself to achieve infantile realism?” Woolf continues her argument about the nature of reality in her essay Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown: “On or about December 1910 human character changed;” 1910 was the year of the first Post-Impressionist Exhibition organized by Roger Fry at the Grafton Galleries in London. The new writers, or “Georgians” as Woolf calls them, “must tolerate the spasmodic, the obscure, the fragmentary, the failure” if they are to capture the reality of character. Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown was part of the first series of Hogarth Essays, which were published between 1924 and 1926.

Virginia Woolf. Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown. London: Hogarth Press, 1924.

Books and Persons (Arnold Bennett) Books and Persons (Arnold Bennett)
Arnold Bennett. “Books & Persons”: holograph, [December 1926?]
An early draft of “Another Criticism of the New School.” From Hugh Walpole’s library.

Arnold Bennett wrote a review of The Common Reader, Mrs. Dalloway, and Jacob’s Room for the Evening Standard on 2 December 1926. In his review—entitled “Books & Persons” in this early draft—Bennett admires the “elegant essays” in The Common Reader, but admits that Mrs. Dalloway “beat me.” Bennett says that brief passages in Woolf’s novels are exquisitely done. “But to be fine for a few minutes is not enough. The chief proof of first-rateness is sustained power.”

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

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