Day 263 of Colourisation Project – January 25
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Today’s subject for colourisation is the most iconic likeness of Virginia Woolf, who was born this day, 25 January 1882. Ranked as one of the most distinguished writers of the middle part of the twentieth century, she was a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals.
A novelist, critic, and essayist, she was considered one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century: her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928) —“the longest and most charming love letter in literature”, as well as nonfiction works such as A Room of One’s Own (1929), with its famous dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” and Three Guineas (1938), both of which examine the difficulties confronting female writers and intellectuals in a world where men hold disproportionate legal and economic power.
Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society, she created one of the most important presses in the history of twentieth-century literature, the Hogarth Press. It was responsible for publishing some of the most influential authors in the modernist canon, including Gertrude Stein, Katherine Mansfield, and T. S. Eliot—Woolf typeset The Waste Land herself—as well as her own novels and translations of Sigmund Freud.
Despite all her outward success, Woolf regularly suffered from severe bouts of depression and dramatic mood swings, thought to have been the result of what we now know to be bipolar disorder. Several times she had attempted to take her own life.
On March 28, 1941, Woolf filled her overcoat pockets with rocks and walked into the River Ouse behind her house and was never seen again until her body washed up 20 days later. Her exit out of this life was suicide by drowning at the age of 59. Her cremated remains were buried under an elm in the garden of Monk’s House, her home in Rodmell, Sussex.
Her legacy is her remarkable body of work including her diaries,, but perhaps the most stirring thing she left behind was the last piece of prose she would ever write, her suicide note, a painful and poignant farewell to her trusted friend and partner, her husband Leonard.
I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.
I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.
“Why are women… so much more interesting to men than men are to women?” – Virginia Woolf