Katherine Sharp, the curator for Monk’s House (which I featured earlier), has just told me of a recent gift to the house of some books once owned by Virginia Woolf.
They are a set of the Arden edition of Shakespeare which Virginia covered with coloured paper in 1936. Her diary entry for 25 February 1936 reads: “… I’ve had headaches. Vanquish them by lying still and binding books …” – by ‘binding’ she meant re-covering the books with glued paper.
Although I wouldn’t personally recommend glueing coloured paper all over your books, it does vividly illustrate the earthy modernist taste of the Bloomsbury Group. And of course it is also poignant evidence of Virginia’s need to soothe her sometimes fragile state of mind with repetitive manual work.
The books come with a bookcase that is recorded as being in the Woolfs’ London home in the late 1930s and later came to Monk’s House. After Leonard’s death in 1969 the bookcase and the books were given to Lady Lintott, a longstanding friend of the Woolfs who lived nearby in Rodmell. Her children have now donated it to Monk’s House.