‘She illuminated everything’: Bowen on Virginia Woolf

Elizabeth Bowen to Leonard Woolf, April 8, 1941:

Dear Leonard,

It was very good of you to write to me, as and when you did. I do thank you. I have been in Ireland for the last three weeks, so your letter, sent on from Clarence Terrace, reached me here last Saturday. I had not heard anything at all till the Thursday before that, when someone told me what they had heard on the wireless. English papers take nearly a week to come. It meant a good deal, then, to get your letter. You and Viriginia and Rodmell had, for those two days, hardly been out of my thoughts–not by day and not much by night. I had begun to imagine what I learned from you to be true–that she had feared her illness was coming back.

You said not to answer your letter, and above all I don’t want to trouble you with words now. And it is no time to speak of my own feeling. As far as I am concerned, a great deal of the meaning seems to have gone out of the world. She illuminated everything, and one referred the most trivial things to her in one’s thoughts. To have been allowed to know her and love her is a great thing.

(quoted from The Mulberry Tree: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen, ed. Hermione Lee)

2 Comments to ‘She illuminated everything’: Bowen on Virginia Woolf

  1. June 3, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I have too much to read at the moment and I have been desperately trying not to buy anymore essays until I’ve worked through some of those I already have, but the snapshots you’ve given me of Bowen’s work over the past couple of days are making that resolution very hard to keep.

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