Item 86 - Letter from Virginia Woolf to Elizabeth Trevelyan

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TRER/17/86

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Letter from Virginia Woolf to Elizabeth Trevelyan

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  • 4 Sep 1940 (Creation)

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1 item: letter and envelope

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Monk's House, Rodmell, near Lewes, Sussex. - Was 'delightful' of Bessie to write about Virginia's life of Roger [Fry]; in her comparison of it to a 'piece of music', she appreciated 'exactly what [Virginia] was trying to do'. Virginia is 'not regularly musical', but 'always think[s] of [her] books as music before [she] writes them'; this was particularly true in the autobiography, where there was 'such a mass of detail' that the only way she could manage was by 'abstracting it into themes' which she attempted to 'unite' in the first chapter, then introduce 'developments & variations' before bringing everything together at the end, just as Bessie saw. Thinks she is the only person to have felt what she was trying to do. Was often 'crushed under the myriad details'; found the necessity to mute or only hint at some things difficult; there was also 'always a certain constraint, which one doesn't feel in fiction, a sense of other people looking over one's shoulder'. Very glad that Bessie and Bob, who both knew Roger well, think it is a 'true portrait of him'; Bob 'went all through his life', even though as often happens they did not see each other as often towards the end. Understands Bessie being shy of Roger, she was not 'exactly shy' herself, but 'sometimes felt overpowered, & so, uneasy'. However none of her friends 'made such a difference to [her] life as he did', which she needed to 'keep under' when writing about him.

Hopes they will meet up; they [she and Leonard] will be often in London this winter, but 'everything's difficult now'. Very sorry about Bessie's eyes; asks if it affects her music.

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With envelope entitled 'Letter from Virginia Woolf, Sept 1940), probably in Elizabeth Trevelyan's hand.

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