Portrait of Virginia Woolf (January 25, 1882 – March 28, 1941)

Portrait of Virginia Woolf (January 25, 1882 – March 28, 1941)

One-day conference hosted by the Institute of English Studies for the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, incorporating the 16th AGM of the VWSGB

Confirmed Speakers

Wendy Hitchmough: Dr Wendy Hitchmough is the Head of Historic Buildings and Research at Historic Royal Palaces. For twelve years she was Curator at the Bloomsbury artists’ home, Charleston, in East Sussex. As an art historian she specialises in the art and architecture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is the author of seven books including Arts and Crafts Gardens (V&A 2005) and C.F.A. Voysey (Phaidon 1995).

Claire Nicholson: Claire Nicholson is a part-time Lecturer in English Literature at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, where this year she was awarded her PhD for a thesis entitled ‘In Woolf’s Clothing: an exploration of clothes and fashion in the fiction of Virginia Woolf’. She has published articles on various aspects of Bloomsbury and fashion, and her most recent publication is Volume 1 of The Women Aesthetes (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013), which she co-edited with Prof. Mary Joannou.

Sarah Phillips: Sarah Phillips has been a keen supporter of the Charleston Trust since 1992 and a member of the Virginia Woolf Society. Her main career was spent at the Courtauld Institute of Art where she organised many events for the Friends, including several lecture series on Bloomsbury. In 2007, she turned from museum work and art history interests, to an MA in English Literature 1848- 1930. Her thesis was on Virginia Woolf as a Cubist Writer. In 2012, a shorter version was published as a monograph by Cecil Woolf for his Bloomsbury Heritage series. Sarah now works as a freelance lecturer; event organiser and tutor for the WEA in Bath, Wiltshire, Somerset & Cornwall.


10:30am AGM (VWS Members only): Woburn Suite, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet St WC1E 7HU
11:15 Coffee
11:45 Sarah Phillips: “Virginia Woolf as a ‘Cubist Writer'”There are clear similarities between the experimental and modernist style of Woolf’s writing and the designs and ideas of the avant-garde Cubist movement which was founded in Paris, in 1907, by Picasso and Braque. Specific reference is made to her first two modernist novels: Jacob’s Room and Mrs Dalloway, and to several of her early short stories. Cubism plays with perspective and space; it displays simultaneously all aspects of the object or subject, superimposing all views. The work is composed of juxtaposed fragmented geometric shapes within the picture plane. Woolf’s modernist, experimental writing style, post 1917, implies ‘literary’ Cubism. She suggests, hints, curves and cloaks the real nature of her subject. These novels and short stories are mosaics, constructed by fragments from countless descriptions of moments. Sarah Phillips’s talk for the VWSGB on April 5th 2014 aims to illustrate a way of reading Woolf which illuminates the ideas of Cubism.
12:45 Lunch provided
1.30 Wendy Hitchmough: “Re-Presenting Julia” The beautiful, often tragic face of Julia Stephen was immortalized by her aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron. Visitors to 46 Gordon Square were faced with an impressive row of photographs of her and they were reproduced in the first monograph on Cameron by Virginia Woolf, Victorian Photographs of Famous Men & Fair Women. In this illustrated talk, Dr Wendy Hitchmough examines the different ways in which Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell negotiated their mother’s famous beauty and their memories of her. As the former Curator at Charleston she looks at other images of Julia in the Stephen family archive, sifted and edited into obscurity over the decades. Is there another Julia – one who doesn’t fit the stereotype, one who stays in the attic store?
2.30 Tea
3.00 Claire Nicholson: “Virginia Woolf: a Woman of Fashion?”Claire Nicholson will be giving a brief exploration of Woolf’s perspectives on fashion and some examples of the role played by clothes in her fiction.

Conference registration

£25 Virginia Woolf Society & IES Members / students and concessions

£30 Non-Members standard rate

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


Date and time: 05 April 2014, 10:30 – 16:00
Venue:  Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Keep up to date with all events at SAS

View Larger Map