March 22, 2010

Newly opened archive of Bloomsbury letters sheds light on Woolf's suicide


Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

A trove of letters between Bloomsbury Group members such as Virginia Woolf, E.M Forster, Lytton Strachey and others has been released to the public for the first time by King’s College, Cambridge University, according to a Telegraph report by Laura Roberts.

Included amongst the thousands of pages so released are some that shed new light on Woolf’s death, writes Roberts:

Clive Bell, the husband of Woolf’s sister Vanessa wrote to Frances Partridge on April 3 1941, discussing the novelist’s final disappearance aged 59.

He said: “I’m not sure whether The Times will by now have announced that Virginia is missing.

“I’m afraid there is not the slightest doubt that she drowned herself about noon last Friday – Her stick and footprints were found by the edge of the river.

“It became evident some weeks ago that she was in for another of those long and agonizing breakdowns of which she had had several already. ”

Woolf’s body was eventually found on April 18 1941. She had filled the pockets of her overcoat with stones and walked in the River Ouse near her Sussex home.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives