IVWS 2021 Fall Lecture: Virginia Woolf’s Poetry Library
Date: 8 November 2021
Time: 1:00pm ET (New York)
(The event will take place over Zoom. Members will be sent a Zoom link via email ahead of the event. The event will be recorded and made available to IVWS members.)
In this talk, Emily Kopley studies the extant library of Virginia Woolf (née Stephen), most of it held by Washington State University, for clues about Woolf’s attitude towards poetry. As Virginia Stephen, the young writer did not read poetry, repelled by its patriarchal associations. Her father, Leslie Stephen, and her brother, Thoby Stephen, urged poetry upon her, but their encouragement seems to have been dissuasive. Woolf’s poetry books at Washington State—in particular the dates of bookplates, signatures, and inscriptions–show that Woolf turns to buying and reading poetry only after the deaths of her father and brother. This turn towards poetry inspires the rhythmical, impressionistic prose for which Woolf is celebrated. Kopley focuses on two volumes, one by Wordsworth and one by the Victorian James Thomson, that reveal Woolf’s recuperation in To the Lighthouse (1927) of the poetry her father and brother loved.
Much of this talk is drawn from Kopley’s new book, Virginia Woolf and Poetry (Oxford UP, June 2021) and from a forthcoming essay, of the same title as this talk, in the book The Library in Private and in Public (ed. Jason Camlot and Jeffrey Weingarten, Wilfred Laurier UP, 2021)