Virginia Woolf's Gardens
Summer Course 2019

Our topic for our Virginia Woolf Summer Course in 2019 is Virginia Woolf's Gardens. Gardens, parks, and plants are enormously important in Woolf's writings, as they were in her life. What do they mean? How does an understanding of plants and gardens deepen our understanding of her novels? Is there a politics of gardening, as Leonard Woolf suggests below, remembering the late 1930s?

There will be a chance to visit Woolf's own garden at Monk's House in Sussex, now a National Trust property. 


14-19 July 2019

Reading List (provisional)

'Kew Gardens' (1917)
Mrs Dalloway
To the Lighthouse (1927)
Orlando (1928) 
Jacob's Room (1922)
A Room of One's Own (1929)

Optional Further Reading

Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson, Charleston: A Bloomsbury House and Gardens (new edition, 2004)
Damon Young, Voltaire's Vine and Other Philosophies: How Gardens Influenced Great Writers (2014)
Caroline Zoob, Virginia Woolf's Garden: The Story of the Garden at Monk's House (2013)


We are delighted to confirm that Suzanne Raitt, Professor of English at William and Mary College, will lecture on Orlando and Knole. Suzanne's edition of Orlando is just out from Cambridge University Press, co-edited with Ian Blyth. Other teachers include Alison Hennegan, Clare Walker Gore, Nadine Tschacksch and Trudi Tate. Kabe Wilson will talk about his remarkable work on Woolf. More details to follow soon.

From Leonard Woolf's autobiography of the years 1919-1939, Downhill All the Way (1967)

'I will end … with a little scene that took place in the last months of peace. They were the most terrible months of my life, for, helplessly and hopelessly, one watched the inevitable approach of war. One of the most horrible things at that time was to listen on the wireless to the speeches of Hitler — the savage and insane ravings of a vindictive underdog who suddenly saw himself to be all-powerful. We were in Rodmell during the late summer of 1939, and I used to listen to those ranting, raving speeches. One afternoon I was planting in the orchard under an apple-tree iris reticulata, those lovely violet flowers. … Suddenly I heard Virginia’s voice calling to me from the sitting room window: 'Hitler is making a speech.' 

I shouted back, 'I shan’t come. I’m planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.' Last March [1966], twenty-one years after Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, a few of those violet flowers still flowered under the apple-tree in the orchard.'


Register interest

If you would like to register your interest in our Virginia Woolf summer course for 2019, please complete this form, or email us:

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 Monk's House, Sussex, former home of Virginia Woolf and Leonard Woolf

Monk's House, Sussex, former home of Virginia Woolf and Leonard Woolf

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