Sunday, April 11, 2021

Talland House and St Ives 2003/2012

 Talland House and St Ives 2003/2012


Talland House in 2012

In 2003, I was fortunate enough to spend several days in the "Nursery" flat on the first (second if you are American) floor of Talland House (the balcony to the right and center window in this picture).  I had complete access to the garden and took many pictures of the house, the garden, and the views down the hillside and across the bay.  I also did some research in the local town archives and was able to retrieve a copy of the hand-drawn 1877 Survey map of Talland House and its grounds at the time Leslie Stephens first leased it.

In 2012 I returned to St. Ives with five students, bent on taking photographs of everything we could.  Although we were not staying at Talland House, the gardener saw us discreetly peering and invited us in for a tour where we were able to document what still remained, although some of the garden and all of the open land below it had already disappeared under a swarm of holiday house developments. 

I have thought for years that I needed to make my pictures available to the public, especially for Woolf scholars and teachers. I had made a power-point which I had thought I would post, but it had not been updated and was a digital leviathan to upload.  Also, I wanted people to be able to extract and use my images as easily as possible.  So instead I am going to set up this blog post. It begins with a wide focus, locating Talland House in St. Ives, then narrows down to views of the gardens and the surrounding grounds, centers in on a few pictures I was able to take of the views from the interior and of the actual rooms I stayed in, and ends by flaring out to photos of the beach at St. Ives and some images of the lighthouse taken on our boat trip out to see it.


House and Surrounding Area

 This is the 1877 Ordinance Survey Map made of Talland House. From my experience studying a similar survey map of Monk's House, I can attest that these hand-drawn maps were accurate down to the placement of particular trees.  There was a sizeable orchard on the north side of the house which had completely disappeared by 2003. There were also four greenhouses, the back wall of three of which was still standing with an exit door to the street in 2003.  The house was approached by a carriage road (off Albert Road) which curved around below an oval ground set off by the escallonia hedge. On the south side of the garden there was a path that led down to a separate pedestrian gate, accessible by three stairs to the road.  This gate and stairs were still there in 2003, though they had disappeared by 2012.


Looking down on the greenhouse walls in 2003.

Door into Greenhouses (2003)

Approach up carriage road from Albert Rd (2003)

Pedestrian Gate to Albert Rd in 2003

Peering up at house from the stairs (2003)

  When I was there in 2003, there was a path across the road from the green house gate that led down some stairs bordered on either sides by red hot pokers towards the beach.

View of beach from the road below Talland House (2003)

Closer view of the pokers

Portminster Beach from above the train station parking lot.  (2003)


Talland House in St. Ives

Talland house is located south of the main harbor and peninsula of St Ives, high on a hill over-looking Porthminster beach and sitting above the train station.


 This is a pre-2003 postcard of Porthminster Beach where I have placed a circle high-lighting Talland House; you can see that there is green space not only below the house, but also all the way down to the train station.



Below is a photo of Talland House taken from a  boat off the beach in 2012; you can see that holiday houses almost block it in.


From Talland House it is only about 1/4 of a mile stroll down the hill on Albert Road to the center of town. Here is a picture of the street you follow into town. 

If you drop downhill to The Terrace road, you can take a slightly longer route that passes by the Malakoff and its spectacular view of the main harbor.


The Talland House Garden

In "A Sketch of the Past" Woolf designates various sectors in the garden: "there was the coffee garden; the Fountain -- a basin with a funnel that dripped, edged in with damp evergreens; the cricket lawn; the Love Corner under the greenhouse" (MOB 129) . Although it is not shown on the ordinance map, in 2003 there was a basin in the the SW corner of the garden, surrounded by calla lilies.  


Basin in SW corner, planted with pseudocoreus in 2003

The SW lawn was the flattest expanse in the yard and might have been where tennis was played.

SW lawn space


South-facing entrance


Terrace along South side of house (perhaps where Mr Ramsey paces?)


On the east front of the house, tall doors/ windows opened up to the view of the bay and the lighthouse, overlooking a terrace, with stairs down a low rockery into an oval space bordered by the escallonia hedge. Here is a link to a photo of the east front of the house  from Leslie Stephen's Album at Smith. 


You can see that the  rather overgrown hedge completely surrounded the oval garden below, and the front of the house was half covered with the vines of clematis and passion flowers which Woolf mentions in "A Sketch of the Past".

East front of Talland House in 2012  (new addition to right)

Here is a link to a photo of the south windows from Leslie Stephen's photo album.

By 2003, the upper hedge had been cut down, the rockery exposed and planted,  and the view framed by the addition of a palm tree and a yew.

Looking down on oval space in 2003

Looking down on rockery leading to oval space in 2003 (still planted with mesembrantheum)

Photos of the children playing cricket against a rough stone wall  (in Leslie Stephen's photo album, owned by Smith ) suggest that the cricket lawn was the oval space below the rockery and above the hedge.

Views from and Inside the House

From the upper floor balcony, the views across the bay are spectacular, but the lighthouse seems very far away .

View of nursery balcony

Godrevy Lighthouse from the nursery balcony (2003)

View of Julia Stephen's balcony from the nursery balcony (2003)

I was lucky enough to be able to sleep in the nursery, next to the window, which still had a shade that blew out in the sea breeze.

I like to imagine that this window in the nursery is the one from which the Stephen children used to lower a basket for treats from the cook.

Across from the entrance to my flat I was able to catch a glimpse of the stairs up to the attic.

 To the Lighthouse
When I first arrived in St. Ives, one thing that really impressed me was the intense colors of the waters, backlit by the white sand of the beaches.

In 2012 my students and I were able to take a trip out to the Godrevy lighthouse on a boat leaving from the main harbor.  What follows is a series of photos of the lighthouse taken as we approached the island.
As you leave the harbor, you can see three lighthouses: two on the main pier,  one in the distance.


Sunday, January 24, 2021

SKP: Gliederung -- Analytical Outline of "Sketch"


“A Sketch of the Past”: Gliederung  

 ()= sections MS is broken into by spacing in MOB, 2nd ed.


64  (1)  Sunday April 16th, 1939

         First Memories: flowers on dress, waves, blind (mother and balcony), ripe garden and bees

65   Meditation on memories

66   Passion flowers…paint these first impressions.  Rooks cawing. Rapture of garden

67   Looking glass shame; Gerald’s abuse à70

70   Digression on moments of being vs. non-being (cotton wool)

71   Shocks:  fighting wi Thoby;  the flower is the whole; apple-tree and death

72   Philosophy of life: pattern behind cotton wool

73   Description of three characters she remembers from childhood (caricature) à 74


74  (2) May 2nd, 1939

Meditation on contrast btw past and present

75   Long description of Kensington Gardens in contrast to walks around St. Ives;

red and purple air balls; the Flower Walk

77   lost Cornish luggar

78   Two important moments of being: puddle in the path; idiot boy


79 (3) Bright memories of mother, always including a circle of the scene

79--Driven to growth like a plant

80 – moments wh bound her to other people; Mother and writing TTL. “invisible presences”

81 – review of memories of mo: touch, sight, hearing,

82 – move from minute detail to generalization abt her beauty--


85 (4) May 15, 1939. – turn to May 1895: death of mo

Platform of time

89   (5)  comparison of two husbands

91   (6) death


91  (7) May 28th 1939. 

How her mother’s death made her perceptions more intense:

92   Kiss, cold iron; smell of flowers

93   Paddington Station, reading poem

94   Shrouded life after mo’s death: all in black vs laburnum; cave of Virginia Creeper


95  (8) June 20, 1939: crossing the channel

Thinking abt Stella;

96   list of people who’ve died; mo and Stella: sun and moon

97   Old cow; cow parsley, white roses


98   (9) July 19th, 1939. – surface sliding over depths of past

99  Stella’s lovers: Jim, Jack Hills


100 (10) June 8th 1940; break of nearly a year. MS in garbage; battle at crisis

Memories of Stella and Jack Hills

103 Passage abt Jack Hills’ frankness abt sex

104           teaching them abt butterflies

105           red red rose of love

106            Nessa; the Greek slave years

107           Stella’s marriage and death


107   (11) Sept 22nd, 1940. Fall of France, turn to her father

108           Discussion of ambivalence

109           violent temper

 110          frustrated desire to be a man of genius


115 (12) Mecklenburg Sq July, 1940

115           Father as a writer

116           The cage of 22 Hyde Park Gate in July 1897


124 (13)  18th August 1940. –German raiders over MH

125           Thoby


126 (14) 22nd September 1940

         St. Ives.    Description of town

129           Description of Talland House

131           Pilchards and Regatta

132           Sophie’s kitchen

133           walks around St. Ives


136 (15) October 11th 1940

Memories of Thoby

137                  affects of early deaths on her

138                  Thoby and Shakespeare;

139                  how reserved they were with one another; how there was never any sense of how he felt sexually        

140                  Return to Stella’s death; the leafless tree

141                  Garden scene at Fritham wi George Duckworth

George saying that Vanessa was in love wi Jack but couldn’t marry him

142                  Scene making as a literary device


143 (16) November 15th 1940   ---Close conspiracy with Vanessa

144                  Wednesday account books; father’s demands for sympathy

147                  model day at HPG

148                  social demands of the evening;

150                  problems with dressing well

151                  Long passage describing George Duckworth in great detail

153                  great patriarchal machine

153                  Lack of social success; George’s disappointment

157                  Division btw convention (downstairs) and intellect (upstairs)

158                  Memories of the world of intellectual visitors: 

159                  contrasts between different worlds


SKP: Reading Questions on "A Sketch of the Past"


“ A Sketch of the Past” --Things to Think About

Text itself  (Not just what it tells her about her life, though that is important)

·       Plot – What is the structure of this piece?  Is there any? How does she organize her thoughts?  Do you see patterns of repetition, climax etc?  Is there any way this is structured like a novel? Or is it more like a poem?

·       Character

§  Who are the most important people in her life?  (we’ll need to think about to what degree they show up again in her novels)

§  How does Woolf see character and the possibility of knowing character?  How does she describe others?

§  How does Woolf present herself as a character?  What are some of the characteristics of the autobiographical narrator?

·       Theme – Can we use “Sketch” as a way of beginning to identify the major themes/concerns in Woolf’s work? Start a list. 

§  Northrop Frye believes the thematic content of a work is often carried through is imagery.  Do you find any repeated patterns of images in “Sketch”? What are these images about?


SKP: Sketch of the Past -- Bibliography



Woolf—A Sketch of the Past Biblio

Updated 1/9/21


Czarnecki, Kristin. “Heritage, Legacy, and the Life-Writing of Woolf and Rhys.”pp. 202-207 IN: De Gay, Jane(ed. and introd.); Breckin, Tom(ed. and introd.); Reus, Anne(ed. and introd.) Virginia Woolf and Heritage: Selected Papers from the Twenty-Sixth Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Clemson, SC: Clemson University Press; 2017. OWN

Hagen, Benjamin D.  “Feeling Shadows: Virginia Woolf's Sensuous Pedagogy.”PMLA 132.2 (2017 Mar): 266-28. xerox

Lowe, Gill. “The Malicious Gene: An Evolutionary Games Strategy? Woolf's Hawkish Inheritance.”pp. 257-262 IN: De Gay, Jane(ed. and introd.); Breckin, Tom(ed. and introd.); Reus, Anne(ed. and introd.) Virginia Woolf and Heritage: Selected Papers from the Twenty-Sixth Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Clemson, SC: Clemson University Press; 2017. Own

Marcus, Laura. “'Some Ancestral Dread': Woolf, Autobiography, and the Question of 'Shame'.” pp. 264-279 IN: De Gay, Jane(ed. and introd.); Breckin, Tom(ed. and introd.); Reus, Anne(ed. and introd.) Virginia Woolf and Heritage: Selected Papers from the Twenty-Sixth Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Clemson, SC: Clemson University Press; 2017.  Own

Toth, Naomi.  “Remembering ‘moments of being’: Perception, language and memory in Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Sketch of the Past’.” 2017, Voyage vers la parole. L'enfance, le sens et l'acquisition du langage. Cycnos, n° spéciale.

Yoon, Irene. “Behind a Pane of Glass: Collective Memory in Woolf’s Interwar London.” Twentieth Century Literature. 2017 Mar; 63(1) 49-74.

Tipper, Becky. “Moments of Being and Ordinary Human-Animal Encounters.” Virginia Woolf Miscellany ; 2013 Fall; 84 14-16. xerox

Sullivan, Hannah. “Autobiography and the Problem of Finish.” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly ; 2011 Spring; 34(2) 298-325.  Xeroxed relevant

Hagen, Benjamin D.. “'It Is Almost Impossible That I Should Be Here': Wordsworthian Nature and an Ethics of Self-Writing in Virginia Woolf's 'A Sketch of the Past'.” Virginia Woolf Miscellany 2010 Fall-Winter; 78 13-15. OWN

Sim, Lorraine. Virginia Woolf: The Patterns of Ordinary Experience. Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing Co.; 2010. See esp Chapter Five, “Moments of Being: Little Daily Miracles.”


Julia Briggs.  Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life.  London: Penguin [Allen Lane] 2005. OWN


Shih, Elizabeth A . “Editing the Palimpsestic Text: The Case of Virginia Woolf's 'A Sketch of the Past'.” pp. 132-40 IN: Kukil, Karen V. (ed. and introd.); Woolf in the Real World. Northampton, MA: Clemson University Digital; 2005. x, 221 pp. OWN.  


Johnston, Georgia  “Politics of Retrospective Space in Virginia Woolf's Memoir 'A Sketch of the Past'”; pp. 285-96 IN: Regard, Frédéric (ed. and introd.); Wall, Geoffrey (preface and epilogue); Mapping the Self: Space, Identity, Discourse in British Auto/Biography. Saint-Etienne, France: Université de Saint-Etienne; 2003. 398 pp. (book article) 


Zwerdling, Alex.  “Mastering the Memoir: Woolf and the Family Legacy.”  Modernism/Modernity 10.1 (2003): 165-88. xerox


Benstock, Shari.  “Authorizing the Autobiographical/” pp. 1138-54 IN: Warhol, Robyn R. (ed. and introd.); Herndl, Diane Price (ed. and introd.); Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP; 1997. xxi, 1207 pp. (book article) OWN


Pawlowski, Merry M.  “Public and Private Tyrannies: Virginia Woolf, Life-Writing, and the Feminist Revision of History.” pp. 257-78 IN: Coleman, Linda S. (ed.); Women's Life-Writing: Finding Voice/Building Community. Bowling Green, OH: Popular; 1997. 281 pp. (book article) xerox


Johnston, Georgia; “Virginia Woolf Revising Roger Fry into the Frames of 'A Sketch of the Past'.” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 1997 Summer; 20 (3): 284-301. (journal article)  xerox


Barbara Claire Freeman .  Moments of beating: addiction and inscription in Virginia Woolf's "A Sketch of the Past." Diacritics: 27.3 (Fall 1997): p65(12) XEROXED


Rosenberg, Beth Carole. “ How Should One Write a Memoir? Virginia Woolf's 'A Sketch of the Past';.” pp. 7-12 IN: Barrett, Eileen (ed.); Cramer, Patricia (ed.); Connolly, Paul (introd.); Re: Reading, Re: Writing, Re: Teaching Virginia Woolf. New York, NY: Pace UP; 1995. 322 pp. OWN


àPawlowski, Merry M.; “From the Country of the Colonized: Virginia Woolf on Growing Up Female in Victorian England.”  pp. 95-110 IN: Lashgari, Deirdre (ed.); Violence, Silence, and Anger: Women's Writing as Transgression. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia; 1995.  ILL


Emily Dalgarno . “Ideology into fiction: Virginia Woolf's "A Sketch of the Past."  Novel  27.2 (Wntr 1994): p175(21) xerox


Cousineau, Diane . “Virginia Woolf's 'A Sketch of the Past': Life-Writing, the Body, and the Mirror Gaze.”  A/B: Auto/Biography Studies, 1993 Spring; 8 (1): 51-71. (journal article) xerox


Caramango, Thomas.  The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf’s Art and Manic-Depressive Illness.  Berkeley: U of CA P, 1992.  Chapter 6: “How immense must be the force of life”: The Art of Autobiography and Woolf’s Bipolar Theory of Being”  OWN


Stephanie Paulsell . “Writing and mystical experience in Marguerite d'Oingt and Virginia Woolf..”  Comparative Literature Summer 1992 v44 n3 p249(19) DWNLD


Slade, Carole.  “A  Definition of Mystical Autobiography.”  A/B: Auto/Biography Studies, 1991 Fall; 6 (2): 226-39. (journal article)


McCracken, LuAnn .' “The Synthesis of My Being?': Autobiography and the Reproduction of Identity in Virginia Woolf .”Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, 1990 Spring; 9 (1): 59-78. xerox

McCord, Phyllis Frus. “Little Corks That Mark a Sunken Net': Virginia Woolf's 'Sketch of the Past' as a Fictional Memoir.” Modern Language Studies, 1986 Summer; 16 (3): 247-254. xeroxed


Albright, Daniel.  “Virginia Woolf as Autobiographer.”  Kenyon Review 4.4 (1984):    XEROXED


Christopher C. Dahl . “Virginia Woolf's "Moments of Being" and Autobiographical Tradition in the Stephen Family.”  Journal of Modern Literature  Vol. 10, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 175-196.  XEROX


Avrom Fleishman.  "To Return to St. Ives": Woolf's Autobiographical Writings.” ELH, Vol. 48, No. 3. (Autumn,  ), pp. 606-618. xeroxed