Hello gentle reader,
last weekend I went to the National Portrait Gallery to visit the temporary exhibition about the Life, Art and Vision of Virginia Woolf. It’s an amazing exhibition and I really recommend it if you find yourself in London before 26 October 2014. I find there’s nothing quite as inspiring as seeing a great writer’s personal notes, letters and photographs. It gives us a ‘behind the scenes’ look at their life, struggles and inspiration.
Following my visit to the National Portrait Gallery, I decided to read one of Virginia Woolf’s works. I chose The London Scene, and again, I recommend it if you’re interested in London and beautiful writing.
Virginia Woolf was already an accomplished novelist and critic when she was commissioned by the British edition of Good Housekeeping to write a series entitled “Six Articles on London Life.” Originally published bimonthly, beginning in December 1931, five of the essays were eventually collected and published in 1981. The sixth essay, “Portrait of a Londoner,” had been missing from Woolf’s oeuvre until it was rediscovered at the University of Sussex in 2004.
A walking tour of Woolf’s beloved hometown, The London Scene begins at the London Docks and follows Woolf as she visits several iconic sites throughout the city, including the Oxford Street shopping strip, John Keats’s house on Hampstead Heath, Thomas Carlyle’s house in Chelsea, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament.
These six essential essays capture Woolf at her best, exploring modern consciousness through the prism of 1930s London while simultaneously painting an intimate, touching portrait of this sprawling metropolis and its fascinating inhabitants.
It’s a very short read (about 100 pages), yet incredibly powerful. Virginia Woolf managed to capture the essence of London in these essays, showing both what the city was like in the 1930s and what makes it utterly timeless. If you love London as I do, or if you dream of going there one day, then I strongly suggest you read The London Scene. You won’t regret it.
What have you been reading this week? Have you read any of Virginia Woolf’s books? Feel free to leave me a comment below!