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Virginia Woolf’s Women
Summer Course, 19–24 July 2020

Wolfson College, Cambridge

Our 2020 Virginia Woolf course will explore Woolf’s Women, looking at some of her fascinating women characters. These include Mrs Dalloway and her daughter; Mrs Ramsay and Lily in To the Lighthouse; plus the intriguing figure of Orlando, who leads us to wonder: What is a woman, to Woolf?

And what about the women in Woolf’s life who were so important to her writing: her mother Julia Stephen, her sister Vanessa Bell; friends such as writer Katherine Mansfield and composer Ethel Smyth; lover Vita Sackville-West; plus scholars such as Jane Harrison and Janet Case?

There will be a rich programme of lectures, seminars, supervisions (tutorials), walks, talks, and visits to places of interest in Cambridge. We are delighted that Claire Davison, Alison Hennegan, Karina Jakubowicz, Claire Nicholson, Trudi Tate, and Clare Walker Gore will be teaching for us again.

Marion Dell of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and an expert on Woolf’s family history will give a talk on Julia Stephen. Susan Sellers will read from her acclaimed novel, Vanessa and Virginia, about Woolf and her sister.

Course dates: 19 to 24 July 2020. Bookings are open. Discounts for early bookings, for students, CAMcard holders, and members of recognised Woolf Societies. Places are limited.

Provisional Topics

• Women and children in To the Lighthouse
Mrs Dalloway and her Daughter
• What is a Woman: Orlando
• Women and education: A Room of One’s Own
• Virginia Woolf and Ethel Smyth
• Virginia Woolf’s mother, Julia Stephen
• Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell

We will visit Girton and Newnham, the first women’s colleges in Cambridge. Woolf gave a talk in 1928 at both colleges which formed the basis of A Room of One’s Own (1929). We also plan to pay a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum to see the manuscript of this influential work.

We also offer a week of study on Reading the 1920s, 26-31 July 2020


Day Trip to Sissinghurst, Sat. 25 July 2020

After the course, there will be an optional day trip by coach to Sissinghurst, home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, now a National Trust property. This is open only to members of the courses. We will arrive back in Cambridge on Saturday evening, so you will probably need to book an extra night’s accommodation at Wolfson. Please book the trip and extra night, if you want these, with your course booking.

Gallery: Photos of Julia Stephen, Vanessa Bell, Katherine Mansfield and Vita Sackville-West. Colour photos are from our 2019 summer courses, taken by Jeremy Peters @JezPete.


Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain.
Sissinghurst, National Trust.
Monk's House, National Trust.
Charleston, National Trust.
Paula Maggio, Blogging Woolf.
Notes on Leonard Woolf.
Newnham College, Cambridge.
Jeanette Winterson on Orlando, Guardian, September 2018.
Margaret Atwood on re-reading To the Lighthouse, Guardian, September 2002.