WOOLF (VIRGINIA) Trinity House Visitors Book for Godrevy Lighthouse, St Ives, Cornwall, recording two visits by Virginia Stephen, aged ten and twelve, in 1892 and 1894
Lot 200
WOOLF (VIRGINIA)
Sold for £ 10,250 (US$ 13,356) inc. premium

Lot Details
WOOLF (VIRGINIA)
Trinity House Visitors Book for Godrevy Lighthouse, St Ives, Cornwall, recording two visits by Virginia Stephen, aged ten and twelve, in 1892 and 1894, together with friends (including William Holman Hunt) and other members of her family, the first entry in her own hand, the second in the hand of her father, Leslie Stephen; the visitors book containing in all 159 pages of signatures, plus some blanks, the earliest signatures entered in 1859, the last in 1934, on blue paper with printed red rules in columns under 'Date', 'Name', and 'Residence', with a printed notice on the front paste-down ('The Light-keepers are directed to request all Visitors to enter their Names and Residences in this Book'), over 150 pages, original half brown calf, cloth sides, lettered 'Visitors' Book' in gilt on the upper cover beneath the Trinity House arms, the Trinity House printed label on front paste-down, some wear, marks and light scuffing to covers and old internal dust-soiling, but generally in very good condition, folio, St Ives, 1859-1934

Footnotes

  • VIRGINIA WOOLF GOES TO THE LIGHTHOUSE: Godrevy Lighthouse in St Ives Bay, Cornwall, is a central image in one of the undisputed masterpieces of twentieth-century English fiction, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Although ostensibly set in the Hebrides, the details of the novel's locations were drawn entirely from the author's memories of St Ives where the Stephen family spent their summers between 1882, the year of Virginia's birth, and 1894. They stayed at Talland House, a substantial mid-nineteenth-century house, with views across the bay and out to Godrevy Lighthouse. The lighthouse, dating from 1859, is an octagonal tower 86 feet high built of rubble stone embedded in mortar to a design by the distinguished Scottish engineer James Walker.

    It was to this lighthouse that the ten-year-old Virginia Stephen and her companions set sail on September 12, 1892. The party included the artist William Holman Hunt, a former suitor of Virginia's mother, his son Hilary Hunt, and Virginia's brother Thoby. Each member of the group signed the visitors book. Unlike most of the entries in the book this one is not dated, but it can be pinpointed exactly: the visit is recorded in the Stephen children's collaborative manuscript newspaper, The Hyde Park Gate News, as having taken place on 12 September 1892. The visitors book records a further visit to the lighthouse by Virginia, on 17 September 1894, along with her brothers, Thoby and Adrian, and her father, who wrote all of their names in the book himself. The book also records an earlier visit by Virginia's father, on 24 August 1887, together with Thoby Stephen, Gerald Duckworth, and J. W. Hills.

    To the Lighthouse is widely seen as the most autobiographical of Virginia Woolf's novels – as an elegy for her mother and father, and for her childhood, particularly the summers in St Ives. In the words of Quentin Bell: 'St Ives provided a treasury of reminiscent gold from which Virginia drew again and again; we find it not only in To the Lighthouse, but in Jacob's Room and, I think, in The Waves. For her, Cornwall was the Eden of her youth, an unforgettable paradise, and she was always grateful to her parents for having fixed on that spot' (Virginia Woolf, 1982 edition, i, p.32).
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