Virginia Woolf and Heritage: The 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf

Since 1990 a lively community of scholars, students and readers has gathered each year to explore and celebrate Virginia Woolf’s life and work. This event has been held at various venues in the UK, the USA and Canada, and this year we met at Leeds Trinity University in Yorkshire. Excitement is mounting as preparations are well underway for the conference which runs from Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 June 2016.

This year’s theme, Virginia Woolf and Heritage, has attracted contributors from across the world and topics under discussion range from the influence upon Woolf of her literary forebears to new archival research, Woolf’s legacy to female writers and the cultural inheritance of Bloomsbury. Keynote sessions will be given by distinguished Woolf scholars David Bradshaw, Laura Marcus, Suzanne Raitt, Marion Dell and Jean Mills.

But it won’t be all serious academic activity … there is fun to be had, too. Delegates will be treated to a banquet at which Cecil Woolf, Leonard Woolf’s nephew, will recall memories of his Uncle Leonard and Aunt Virginia; there will be a reception at the Leeds West Indian Centre with Caribbean food; an Open Mic evening and Creative Writing workshops; a lecture-performance of To The Lighthouse; trips to Haworth and Giggleswick; and a Woolf-themed musical concert performance.

Each day is packed with an amazing choice of Panel Sessions in which 2-4 speakers will present papers on a wide range of subjects, and past experience tells me that the main difficulty will be making the choice of which session to attend when there is such a wealth of variety on offer. Do I opt for a discussion on ‘Syllables and Sentences: The Critical and Aesthetic Heritage of Woolf’s Writing’, for example, or immerse myself in a session on ‘Literature and Visual Arts’? All fascinating.

The conference is proof that Woolf provides inexhaustible capacity for study, thought and relish. A feast for the eyes, ears and brain awaits!

Claire Nicholson

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