Jen Minkman - YA Paranormal and Dystopian Author: The house of Virginia Woolf

maandag 20 oktober 2014

The house of Virginia Woolf

In my family, we have a long-standing tradition of visiting houses that famous writers used to live and work in. We've been to Agatha Christie's house, the Bronte sisters' house as well as Jane Austen's humble abode, and a few days ago it was time for Virginia Woolf's former country home!

The house as seen from the side.
My mom and sister are just walking
up to the gate in this pic.
The main house. You can't see it in this picture, but the garden surrounding the Woolf estate is gigantic. The family owned a house in London, but this is where Virginia came to relax and find the peace and quiet in order to do her writing. A cool thing I found out is that you can rent a studio adjacent to the house and get inspired to write your own novel staying in a room next to Virginia's bedroom! And if you think it's way too expensive to be affordable, think again - in the low season, they only charge about 320 pounds sterling for a full week. The studio has a double bed and a charming little kitchen and bathroom. Methinks I will give this a try if I have some spare time and money. I already feel inspired just thinking about it! :)



The main house is not where Virginia sat down to write, though - since everybody in the village was used to popping in for tea and a nice chat throughout the day, she'd hide in her garden shed, called 'The Writing Room'. This is what it looked like on the inside. The desk is original!
It's difficult to see through the window because the light is so bright, but she had a magnificent view of the Sussex hills from her window. Nobody would bother her in here, because all her friends knew that the writing room was off-limits. Her husband would bring her tea and sandwiches in the morning and afternoon by just quickly popping in and out. No talking because he knew it would break her concentration. Leonard Woolf and she founded Hogarth Press in 1917, a small publishing house, to be able to publish new literature that the big publishing houses didn't want to take a chance on. Without Hogarth Press, we may never have been able to read Virginia Woolf's work, nor would T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land have seen the light of day.

This is what The Writing Room looks like from the outside these days. The front section is new, but once you go inside you can see what the shed originally looked like.


In wintertime, the weather would be too severe to do any outdoors writing, so that's when Virginia retreated into her private bedroom to enjoy the heat from the fireplace and draw up a chair to sit there writing on a kneeboard on her lap (you can see the original fireplace in the photo). As you can see, she also had lots of books on her shelves - the woman didn't just like writing, she was also an avid reader! I guess most writers are... I don't think I'd ever have thought of writing a book if I hadn't been fond of reading them.


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