My father fails to be described.

He was, …, especially when his hair was curled into a thick bob behind his ears, a very striking, indeed a magnificent figure; well dressed….very lean and tall and bent, with his beard flowing so that his little scraggy tie scarcely showed.

He had certain ruling passions. Off he would stride with his sandwiches for some tremendous walk. Out he would come with some fact, or opinion, no matter who was there. And he had very strong opinions; and he was extremely well informed. What he said was thus most respectfully listened to.

There was something we had in common. “What have you got hold of?” he would say, looking over my shoulder at the book I was reading; and how proud, priggishly, I was, if he gave his little amused surprised snort, when he found me reading some book that no child of my age could understand. I was a snob no doubt, and read partly to make him think me a very clever little brat. And I remember his pleasure, how he stopped writing and got up and was very gentle and pleased when I came into the study.

When I read his books I get a critical grasp of him…I find not a subtle mind; not an imaginative mind; not a suggestive mind. But a strong mind; a healthy out of door, moor striding mind; an impatient, limited mind; a conventional mind entirely accepting his own standard of what is honest, what is moral.

I admire (laughingly) that Leslie Stephen; and sometimes …have envied him. Yet he is not a writer for whom I have natural taste…I take a bit of him medicinally, and there often steals in, not a filial, but a reader’s affection for him; for his courage, for his simplicity, for his strength and nonchalance, and neglect of appearances.

When Nessa and I inherited the rule of the house, it was the tyrant father – the exacting, the violent, the histrionic, the demonstrative, the self-centered, the self-pitying, the deaf, the appealing, the alternately loved and hated father – that dominated me…

Just as a I rubbed out a good deal of the force of my mother’s memory by writing about her in To the Lighthouse, so I rubbed out much of his memory there too...Until I wrote it out, I would find my lips moving; I would be arguing with him, raging against him; saying to myself all that I never said to him.

But in me, rage alternated with love. It was only the other day when I read Freud for the first time, that I discovered that this violently disturbing conflict of love and hate is a common feeling; and it is called ambivalence.