My first memory is of her lap; the scratch of some beads on her dress comes back to me as I pressed my cheek against it. Then I see her in her white dressing gown from the balcony…Her voice is still faintly in my ears – decided, quick; and in particular the little drops with which her laugh ended – three diminishing ahs…”Ah – ah- ah…” I sometimes laugh that way myself.

…I also hear the tinkle of her bracelets, …as she went about the house; especially as she came up at night to see if we were asleep, this is a distinct memory, for, like all children, I lay awake sometimes and longed for her to come. Then she told me to think of all the lovely things I could imagine. Rainbows and bells…

I have a vision of her now, as she came up the path of the lawn at St. Ives; slight, shapely – she held herself very straight.

…Apart from her beauty…what was she like herself? Very quick; very direct; practical and amusing…She could be sharp, she disliked affectation…Severe; with a background of knowledge that made her sad. She married when she was nineteen. She was in Venice; met Herbert Duckworth; fell head over ears in love with him, he with her, and so they married. That is all I know…of the most important thing that ever happened to her. How important it was is proved by the fact that when he died four years later she was as ‘unhappy as it is possible for a human being to be’.

What was my mother was like when she was as happy as anyone can be, I have no notion. Not a sound or a scene has survived form those four years.

They were well off…he practiced not very seriously at the Bar;

George was born; then Stella;and Gerald was about to be born when Herbert Duckworth died.

They were staying at the Vaughns in Upton; he stretched to pick a fig for my mother; an abscess burst; and he died in a few hours. Those are the only facts I know about those four happy years.

Can I ever remember being alone with her for more than a few minutes? Someone was always interrupting. When I think of her spontaneously she is always in a room of people; Stella, George and Gerald are there; my father sitting reading with one leg curled around the other, twisting his lock of hair; ‘go and take the crumb out his beard’, she whispers to me; and off I trot.

How immense must be the force of life which turns a baby…into the child who thirteen years later can feel all that I felt on May 5th, 1895…when my mother died.

I…could fill a whole page and more with my impressions of that day, many of them, ill received by me, and hidden from the grown ups, but very memorable on that account…

There is my last sight of her; she was dying; I came to kiss her and as I crept out of the room she said: “Hold yourself straight, my little goat.”

It is perfectly true that she obsessed me, in spite of the fact that she died when I was thirteen, until I was forty-four. Then one day walking round Tavistock Square, I made up, as I sometimes make up my books, To the Lighthouse; in a great, apparently involuntary rush. Blowing bubbles out of a pipe gives the feeling of the rapid crow of ideas and scenes which blew out of my mind, so that my lips seemed syllabling of their own accord as I walked. What blew the bubbles? Why then? I have no notion.

But I wrote the book very quickly; and when it was written, I ceased to be obsessed by my mother. I no longer hear her voice; I do not see her.

I suppose that I did for myself what psycho-analysts do their patients. I expressed some very long felt and deeply felt emotion. And in expressing it I explained it and laid it to rest.