WOOLF (VIRGINIA) Fine early autograph letter signed with initials ('A[delaine] V[irginia] S[tephen]'), to Clive Bell, [1908]
Lot 162
WOOLF (VIRGINIA) Fine early autograph letter signed with initials ('A[delaine] V[irginia] S[tephen]'), to Clive Bell, [1908]
Sold for £14,375 (US$ 24,420) inc. premium
Lot Details
WOOLF (VIRGINIA)
Fine early autograph letter signed with initials ('A[delaine] V[irginia] S[tephen]'), to Clive Bell, her 'literary confidant' ('...There was a day when I never talked of my writing to you...') and brother-in-law, about progress with her first novel, The Voyage Out ('...a certain work; & I may as well ask you what you think of a Spanish name for the lady...'); her ambition to have an impact on the nature of novel writing ('...I think a great deal of my future, & settle what book I am going to write – how I shall re-form the novel & capture multitudes of things at present fugitive, enclose the whole, & shape infinite strange shapes...'); her writing room and surroundings ('...Ah, it is the sea that does it! Perpetual movement, & a border of mystery, solving the limits of fields, & silencing their prose... one room, with a great bow window facing the sea, several deep armchairs, & a desk...Nobody disturbs me, they light a lamp for me after dinner, & the only noises I can detect, with my window open, are distant sounds of cows, a blue bottle outside on the cistern, & at this moment the flapping of a red Admiral, who has come in...'); a publisher's proposition that she write a series of biographical articles, ('...I believe I shall become a popular lady biographist...'); her relationship with him ('Poor Clive! What a sister-in-law! But if you were not so polite you would have none of it...'); her reading ('...I split my head over [the philosopher G.E.] Moore every night, feeling ideas travelling to the remotest parts of my brain...It is almost a physical feeling, as though some little coil of brain, unvisited by any blood so far, & pale as wax, had got a little life into it at last; but had nor strength to keep it. I have a very clear notion which parts of my brain think...'); and the books she has around her, and with references to his wife, her sister Vanessa ('Kiss my old Tawny, on all her private places – kiss her eyes, & her neck socket'), 6 pages, 8vo, Sea View, Manorbier, Pembrokeshire [where, she writes, she had advised the Bells to come for their honeymoon], 19 August [1908]

Footnotes

  • This the longest, and arguably the most important, letter by Virginia Woolf to appear for sale at auction since the 1980s – most of her letters are on one or two pages only. She had completed 100 pages of The Voyage Out when she wrote this letter. In it she also asks Bell for a suitable name for Cynthia; never again would she share the progress of her works with another person.
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