Jul 09, 2013
The literary scholar Professor Claudia Olk of the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature, Freie Universität Berlin, is editing the last unpublished manuscripts of the British writer and publisher, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941). Known as the Charleston Bulletin Supplements, the manuscripts that were recently presented to the public in London in a newly published volume, were originally part of a satirical periodical that was founded in 1923 by Quentin Bell, a nephew of Woolf. Bell published the magazine as a family journal until 1927.
From the start of the series, Bell was able to convince his aunt to contribute. Edited by Claudia Olk, the texts have now been published by the British Library. It is the first time they were published in an edited version. The texts and illustrations give a cheerful impression of the everyday life of an author otherwise known for her experimental prose. They thus bring a new and original perspective to an understanding of Virginia Woolf’s literary development.
During her most productive years as a novelist, while she was working on major novels such as Orlando, Mrs. Dalloway, or To the Lighthouse, Woolf was also working from 1923 to 1927 with her nephew and later biographer Quentin Bell on special editions of a hand-written periodical, the Charleston Bulletin Supplements. These notebooks, with texts written by Woolf and illustrations done by Bell, cast new perspectives on the illustrious family life of Woolf and Bell. The texts also give insights into the fate of the Bloomsbury Group in London. Important intellectuals such as the economist Maynard Keynes, the painter Duncan Grant, or the critic Lytton Strachey, were part of this literary circle.
Many of the described events take place in Charleston House in Sussex, which Woolf's sister, the artist Vanessa Bell, purchased in 1914 and that quickly became a meeting place and outpost of the London art scene. Under Woolf's relentless gaze, the eccentricity of various members of the Bloomsbury Group is described in the Charleston Bulletin Supplements with humor and satire. She also includes both actual and imaginary details about the life of the house guests and house staff. The supplements were presented to both families on special occasions. They offer humorous insights into the English avant-garde of the 1920s.
The new monograph is an important primary source for the analysis of Virginia Woolf's creative work and of her development as a writer. The supplements reflect the daily life of one of the most important authors of the 20th century.
The Charleston Bulletin Supplements, edited by Claudia Olk.Price: £12.99, ISBN 9780712358910, hardback, 144 pages.