Odds & quads

January 31, 2013

Source: Society of Authors © Estate of Virginia Woolf

This is one of eight engagement diaries, recently purchased at Sotheby’s by the University of Sussex, in which Virginia Woolf recorded social events and meetings with fellow writers such as “Morgan” (the novelist E.M. Forster) and “Tom” (the poet T.S. Eliot).

There are dates when her fragile physical and mental health got the better of her and she pencilled through her appointments and added the word “Bed”. The final entry, on 28 March 1941, presumably in her husband Leonard’s hand, has the single word “Died” to mark her suicide.

Sussex bought the diaries to complement the Monks House Papers, donated to its Special Collections in 1972, which include letters to Woolf as well as notebooks, drafts of essays and corrected typescripts of some of her works. A sketch was with a letter from Virginia to Leonard dated 7 January 1914 and is presumably in her hand, perhaps reflecting the animal nicknames - “marmoset”, “mandril” and “mongoose” - they used for each other.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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