Socialism in Bloomsbury: Virginia Woolf and the political aesthetics of the 1880s.
This article contrasts Virginia Woolfs resistance to Fabian socialists such as George Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb with her response to the earlier, aesthetic socialism of William Morris. Woolf's Bloomsbury was connected to such 1880s radicalism through the translator Constance Garnett and the circle of 'Neo-Pagans' whose parents had followed the 'religion of socialism' at the turn of the century. Woolf's Preface to Life as We Have Known It offers a studied negation of the democratic aesthetics and communalist sympathies of the 1880s, and marks Woolf's separation of the world of labour from a perfectly autonomous aesthetic--the only realm in which Woolf's modern individual can find freedom and value.
We've been sitting in the Park and listening to the Band and having a terrific argument about Shaw. Leonard says that we owe a great deal to Shaw. I say that he only influenced the outer fringe of morality. Leonard says that the shop girls wouldn't be listening to the Band with their young men if it weren't for Shaw. I say the human heart is touched only by the poets. Leonard says rot, I say damn. Then we go home. Leonard says I'm narrow. I say he's stunted. But don't you agree with me that the Edwardians, from 1895 to 1914, made a pretty poor show. By the Edwardians I mean Shaw, Wells, Galsworthy, the Webbs, Arnold Bennett. We Georgians have our work cut out for us, you see. There's not a single living writer (English) I respect: so you see, I have to read Russian: but here I must stop. I just throw this out for you to think about, under the trees. How does one come by one's morality? Surely by reading the poets. And we've got no poets. Does
that throw light upon anything? Consider the Webbs--That woman has the impertinence to say that I'm a-moral: the truth being that if Mrs Webb had been a good woman, Mrs Woolf would have been a better. Orphans is what I say we are--we Georgians--but I must stop. (1)
In 1922 Virginia Woolf playfully killed off her Edwardian elders and thus, in a familiar manoeuvre in her works, left herself a Georgian orphan, self-tutored in her art. For Woolf, George Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb had come to stand as types of a generation lacking aesthetic content, whose members sought to change the world and its citizens through pragmatic material reforms and a high-realist practice of representation. This supposedly Edwardian habit of conceiving the world and the self through material externalities alone was subjected to a more detailed and rather more famous attack on the grounds of aesthetics in Woolf's essay 'Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown' a year or so after she wrote the letter quoted above. In this instance, however, the Fabian researcher and campaigner Leonard Woolf was present to defend Shaw and his early mentors, the Webbs, against the political content of the onslaught. (2) For Leonard (according to Virginia, at least), the social reforms propagandized by Shaw and the Webbs over the past twenty-five years made it possible for working-class girls to approach a full and rich social subjectivity in 1922. Young women not only have time off, he responds, but can also choose to listen to the band in the municipal park during that period of leisure. For Virginia Woolf this is merely 'stunted' work at the fringes. Morality--and here it seems Woolf is talking about her own, rather than that of the shopgirls in the park--can come only from the purely aesthetic realm of the poets, and hence the unaesthetic Edwardians have left her generation of Georgians orphaned. If Woolf is amoral (or apolitical), as Beatrice Webb judged, then that is because Webb herself was not 'good'. Webb's virtue is not judged by ethics but rather by aesthetics: she lacked the aesthetic value that could have made Woolf moral.
In Woolf's experimental novella Jacob's Room, published in the same year that she wrote the letter to Janet Case, young Jacob Flanders escapes from lunch in Cambridge with his tutor, Mr Plumer, some time in the first decade of the twentieth century. Mr Plumer receives his students in a room lined with books 'by Wells and Shaw; on the table serious sixpenny weeklies written by pale men in muddy boots--the weekly creak and screech of brains rinsed in cold water and wrung dry--melancholy papers'. (3) Mrs Plumer taps the weeklies with 'her bare red hand' and tells Jacob she feels she can only know the truth about anything after she has read these papers. Jacob can take no more and rushes into the street to find his own truth: '"Bloody beastly!" he said, scanning the street for lilac or bicycle--anything to restore his sense of freedom' (p. 33). Freedom and truth for Jacob Flanders, that young Edwardian who never makes it past Woolf's end point of 1914 to become a Georgian, lies in individual aesthetic responsiveness, in flashes of being, not these 'scrubbing and demolishing [...] elderly people' (p. 33).
For the chief culprit of this Edwardian scrubbing and demolishing, George Bernard Shaw, the separation of political and rationalist truth from aesthetic value and responsiveness--the need to leave the subject alone with his or her own desires--was a means of the socialist movement embracing modernity. Such modernity required a break from the generation of Victorians who had devoted themselves to the distinctively aesthetic politics of socialism in the 1880s--a generation noticeably absent from Woolf's account. The rise of socialist activism in Britain from the early 1880s onwards had, as Stephen Yeo suggests, 'its own special dynamism' in which a concern with the ethical transformation of the individual through a desire for the beauty of life without capitalism was seemingly indivisible from the necessity of material revolution. (4) The prominence of artists and writers such as William Morris, Edward Carpenter, and Walter Crane within the movement, in addition to the clear debt owed to American romanticist thought by early ethical socialist groups such as the Fellowship of the New Life, ensured that the relationship between aesthetics and ethics--or, in Woolf's terms, poetry and morality--was a feature of socialist lectures during the 1880s and early 1890s. (5) Advocates of the 'simple life', such as Carpenter, argued that individuals could advance the great change by dispensing with the polite concealments of bourgeois society; hence, loose woollen clothing, sandals, vegetarianism, growing your own vegetables, doing without servants, discussing sexual desire in all its forms with frankness became intercalated with socialism by many middle-class followers. By the early twentieth century, however, the millenarian hope for imminent revolution had largely given way to a gradualist and pragmatic approach towards social democracy, led by the propaganda of the Fabian Society and the electoral efforts of the Independent Labour Party.
Shaw, in his preface to Major Barbara of 1905, teased out the distinctions between the 'modern' material politics of the twentieth-century Fabians and these affective aesthetics of earlier socialist hopes. William Morris and other socialist agitators of 1880s failed, he argued, because the poor 'do not share their tastes nor understand their art criticisms':
They do not want the simple life, nor the aesthetic life [...] What they do dislike and despise and are ashamed of is poverty [...] To ask them to fight for the difference between the Christmas number of the Illustrated London News and the Kelmscott Chaucer is silly: they prefer the News. (6)
Shaw's preface confirms the death by the early twentieth century of an ideal of aesthetic democracy that had been prevalent during the 1880s. As Linda Dowling has demonstrated, a wide variety of nineteenth-century writers were concerned with the concept of aesthetic democracy, yet the resurgence of socialism in Britain lent a particular urgency to this ideal. (7) For both William Morris and Edward Carpenter, albeit with significant differences in their analyses, the aesthetic retained a relative autonomy from material determinism. People of all classes and races had the capacity for a sensuous response to beauty, and thus the aesthetic provided a site of communal feeling; each person also had the potential to produce new art through the pleasurable labour of handicraft after the revolution. By the turn of the century, however, specialization played an increasingly important part in Fabian political thought, and that thought was itself increasingly influential. (8) In the Fabian socialist future the needs of the social organism would determine an increasing differentiation of labour. (9) Talents and tastes for 'hand' and 'brain' labour, including art itself, were simply not distributed democratically by nature. An affective response to the lack of beauty under capitalism would therefore never inspire a revolution among the masses; but the expert municipal provision of basic cultural goods in the form of libraries, free concerts, theatres, galleries, and gymnasiums could educate the people. (10)
It is this reduction of aesthetics to a functional social good by Shaw's Edwardian Fabian generation that Woolf dramatizes as the cause of her orphaned amorality. But Woolf's exorcism of Edwardian politics and literature elides the continuing influence of writers and activists who had embraced socialism during the 1880s and for whom poetics, ethics, and politics were intimately related. This Victorian generation offered a political aesthetic that was, for reasons we shall see shortly, potentially more problematic for Woolf than the Edwardian high realists and political pragmatists she dismissed in the 1920s. That Woolf was aware of this generation is, however, clear from letters and photographs recording a camping holiday on Dartmoor in 1911 during which she experimented with the simple life alongside Rupert Brooke and two other, less well-known companions, Noel Olivier and Maitland Radford. These latter two were the children of parents who had been at the heart of what Yeo terms the 'religion of socialism' in London during the 1880s. Noel Olivier was the daughter of the Fabian Socialist Colonial administrator Sydney Olivier, and Maitland Radford the son of the poets Dollie and Ernest Radford, active members of William Morris's revolutionary Socialist League during the 1880s, whose socialist commitments continued into the twentieth century. (11) In 1893 Dollie Radford decided that she wanted her children 'to be socialists', and believed this could not be taught but must grow from a feeling of belonging with 'the struggling ones': the imaginative act of sympathy with an exploited proletariat was a necessary part of her material politics. (12) In this she was allied to Sydney Olivier, who was marginalized from the Fabian mainstream at the turn of the century because he continued to insist upon an ethical and internationalist dimension of socialist democracy. (13) This ongoing emphasis upon the importance of feeling within politics and of politics in the arts struggled on into the moment of literary modernism and inflected modernist debates as a new generation reinterpreted the ethical idealism and communal aesthetics of the 1880s.
In the early 1890s a collection of socialists who had met in clubs and discussion groups in Bloomsbury during the previous decade began to move out of London and cluster together on the North Downs near the Kent and Surrey border. The vegetarian simple-lifers Kate and Henry Salt moved to Crockham Hill in the late 1880s, and, on his return from serving as Colonial Secretary in British Honduras in 1891, Sydney Olivier settled his family in nearby Limpsfield Chart. (14) Edward Pease, who had been one of the founders of the Fellowship of the New Life and subsequently Secretary of the Fabian Society, moved with his wife Marjorie to live a few fields away from the Oliviers' 'mansion'. (15) By early 1892 Henry Salt wrote to Edward Carpenter to tell him that he was looking about the neighbourhood for a 'cottage for the Kropotkines [sic]' and concluded that the time was ripe 'to get a few unrespectable people in the neighbourhood; a Prince who does his own work would be a healthy tonic to the debilitated gentility of Oxted & Limpsfield'. (16) A central figure in this cluster of Surrey socialists was the translator Constance Garnett (nee Black). Garnett had become interested in the socialist movement during the mid-1880s alongside her sisters, labour activist and socialist investigator Clementina Black and aspiring artist Grace Human, and their friend Dollie Radford. After her marriage in 1889 to the publisher's reader Edward Garnett, the couple's first cottage at Henshurst Cross became a regular retreat for radical emigres, such as Constance's Russian mentor Sergius Stepniak, and London labour activists. (17) By 1895 Constance's growing reputation as a translator of Russian literature and Edward's increasing income as a publisher's reader enabled them to build a house for themselves and their young son David among the socialists at Limpsfield Chart, a home that became a hub of early modernist literary networks. (18)
Constance Garnett had joined the Fabian Society in 1893 and stood for its Executive in 1894, but her immersion in contemporary Russian literature gave her politics a distinctly pacifist and internationalist slant. Writing to Natalie Duddington in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Garnett claimed that 'International Socialism' was what she cared for more than anything else: 'for twenty years or more [it] seemed the hope of the world' to her and was 'after all my religion'. (19) Garnett's spiritual socialism led her to resign from the Fabian Society in 1897, and the Society's response to the Boer War in 1899 caused many of her peers to make a similar break. (20) Whilst Garnett and Olivier opposed the war as the outcome of imperialist capitalism, Shaw and others argued that Fabian doctrines of national efficiency were in fact the natural complement to Britain's imperial destiny: as Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie observe, both consisted of 'an elite offering salvation to the poor'. (21)
The divisions within the socialist movement surrounding the Boer War presaged the even more bitter schisms of 1914-18. For twenty years the 'religion of socialism' in Britain had just managed to hold together internationalists and prophets of imperialist national efficiency, the inheritors of radical utilitarianism, and the 'sentimental' socialists of an extended Gladstonian Liberalism. By the turn of the century such cohesiveness was no longer possible. The Garnetts, the Oliviers, and the Radfords immersed their children in the ethical ideals of their generation, selecting new progressive educational establishments like Abbotsholme and Bedales that emerged from the Fellowship of the New Life and emphasized the values of heterosocial comradeship and the simple life. (22) But the sense that such ethical commitments were the path to an imminent great change in the organization of society was in abeyance. If nothing else, the mass jingoism and demonstrations of working-class Tory patriotism during the Boer War did much to mute the hope that the workers were on the verge of revolution, full of desire for a new and beautiful life of socialism. (23)
When Virginia Woolf started to read contemporary Russian fiction in despair at the state of Edwardian English literature ten years later, the translations she had to hand were almost certainly the work of Constance Garnett. In 'Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown' (1923) Woolf argued that 'Constance Garnett's translations were a crucial influence on the novel' at the turn of the century, 'for after reading Crime and Punishment and The Idiot, how could any young novelist believe in characters as the Victorians painted them?'. (24) For Garnett these literary efforts, to which, Katherine Mansfield assured her, the modernist generation owed so much, were inseparable from politics. (25) Inspired to learn Russian in the early 1890s by Stepniak and comrades in the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom, Garnett's lifelong anti-militarism was grounded in her encounter with Tolstoy. Garnett's Tolstoyan politics were to have a material influence on the shape of the Bloomsbury circle during the First World War. In 1916 David Garnett joined his lover, the painter Duncan Grant, in appealing against conscription into active service. Garnett urged the Tribunal to consider that he had been raised as a pacifist and socialist as a result of his mother's visit to Tolstoy shortly after his birth. The chairman, however, was under the impression that Tolstoy was a town in Russia, and, as a result of the appeal that followed, Garnett, Grant, and Virginia Woolf's sister Vanessa Bell set up home in Charleston, East Sussex, where the two men could fulfil non-combatant service requirements as agricultural labourers. (26) Within a few years Charleston itself had become a site in which the relationship between art and life was rethought and sketched out around the domestic interior, whilst the birth of a daughter to Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in 1918 confirmed a new phase of experiments in family life. When David Garnett married Grant and Bell's daughter Angelica in 1942 (much to her parents' horror), he merely formalized the intermingling of Bloomsbury and Limpsfield, modernism and the ethical aesthetics of the 1880s that took place during the first four decades of the twentieth century. (27)
Woolf's encounter with the afterlife of 1880s socialism came primarily through her friendship with Rupert Brooke and his circle of self-styled 'Neo-Pagans'. (28) This group consisted of former pupils of Bedales school, such as Noel Olivier and Jacques Raverat, young Cambridge graduates and rebellious Fabians like Brooke, and the children of the simple-lifers of Limpsfield. (29) Their favoured garb of socks and sandals, emphasis on fellowship, vegetarianism, camping, and mixed nude bathing indicates the continuing influence of simple-life advocates of the 1880s like Edward Carpenter and Henry Salt, but with some significant evolutions. Followers of the 'religion of socialism' had turned from Judeo-Christian ethics and sought a replacement in an aesthetic politics. The Neo-Pagans, as the name suggests, rejected the claim of conventional morals altogether, opting for a spirit more Hellenic than Hebraic. (30)
Beatrice Webb deplored this spirit animating young radicals in the early twentieth century. Writing to her sister, Kate Courtney, in 1911, she commented: there is a pernicious set [at Cambridge] presided over by [Goldsworthy] Lowes Dickinson, which makes a sort of ideal of anarchic ways in sexual questions--we have, for a long time, been aware of its bad influence on our young Fabians. The intellectual star is the metaphysical George Moore with his Principia Ethica--a book they all talk of as 'The Truth'! I can never see anything in it, except a metaphysical justification for doing what you like and what other people disapprove of! So far as I can understand the philosophy it is a denial of the scientific method and religion--[...] the net result on the minds of young men [...] seems to disintegrate their intellects and their characters. (31)
Whilst Webb's account of Moore's Principia ethica is, as Paul Levy observes, 'a grotesque misunderstanding' of the work, the attitudes of which she disapproves do bear some relationship to the use members of the Bloomsbury Group later made of his philosophy. (32) Moore's rejection of Kantian idealism and displacement of notions of mystic organic unity with a philosophy grounded in individuated responsiveness certainly shaped the aesthetic and ethical beliefs of fellow members of the Cambridge Apostles at the turn of the century such as Lytton Strachey, Leonard Woolf, and Roger Fry. (33) Unlike the last, however, Brooke seems to have clung on to the aesthetic democracy of William Morris, whilst showing willingness to embrace a little sexual anarchy in the school of Moore. (34) In 1908 Brooke insisted that the Cambridge Fabians needed more, not less, of the ethical idealism and aesthetic interests of an earlier socialist generation. (35) These young politicians were of a rather selfish sort, he thought, and lacked the requisite ethical idealism to bring a new life of socialist beauty into being. (36)
To Noel Olivier the lines of social and cultural distinction between Virginia Woolf's distinguished family and those of the Limpsfield socialists and Neo-Pagans remained all too palpable. Writing to Brooke in May 1912, Olivier anticipated that her forthcoming visit to the newly-wed Virginia at Asheham would merely prove to her hosts that 'I'm too common & much of a dunce to associate with these folks'; but the visit was paid and repeated nevertheless. (37) The aesthetics of the 1880s simple-lifers and their emphasis on heterosocial fellowship caught and held Woolf's interest during the years in which her own craft as a writer and the social experiments of Bloomsbury took shape. Despite Woolf's retrospective revisions, then, it is clear that the pragmatic Edwardian socialism of Shaw and the Webbs in the early twentieth century was counterbalanced by the afterlife of the aesthetic politics of the 1880s: a politics in which desire for the beautiful and the affect of poetry was part of the process of social change, and where the aesthetic remained a democratic site of common feeling. Woolf's early twentieth-century Bloomsbury thus overlay an earlier Bloomsbury of the mid-1880s like a palimpsest. Like the members of the Fellowship of the New Life commune, which had numbered Sydney Olivier among its early members, Woolf's essays in collective living at Gordon Square 'were full of experiments and reforms [...] Everything was going to be new; everything was going to be different. Everything was on trial'. (38) As Peter Stansky suggests, both groups of innovators 'recognized the supreme importance of the domestic and its radical implications', but the political disjunction between the two also made for some important distinctions. (39)
In characterizing the politics of Bloomsbury, Raymond Williams argues that the group's emphasis upon the 'civilized individual', which encompassed free and frank intellectual discussion of the anomalous position of women (and, we might now add, homosexuality), defines them as a 'fraction' of the existing English upper class. (40) Despite their self-definition against the 'stupidity' of the ruling class, the members of the Bloomsbury Group were, Williams contends, merely prefiguring a later development of that class. Nowhere, Williams suggests, is this more evident than in their critiques of capitalist society, always expressed as 'a matter of conscience' felt by the individual or the group towards the working class as helpless victims, rather than as solidarity. (41) It is not insignificant in this context that, unlike Constance Garnett and her sisters Clementina and Grace two decades earlier, for example, whose servantless dwelling had become a matter of some interest to their fellow activists, it was unthinkable for Woolf to go so far as to live without domestic staff. For Leonard Woolf, who returned from Ceylon to join this trial of a new life in 1911, and Roger Fry, who reacquainted himself with the Stephen sisters in 1910, the political traces of this earlier Bloomsbury of passionate solidarity and labour activism were more perceptible. Fry had been at Cambridge during the mid-1880s when his fellow Apostles were wrestling with a sense of social duty, the new excitements of socialism in London, and philosophical enquiries into the limits of Kantian idealism guided by Moore. Woolf herself suggested in her biography of Fry that Edward Carpenter turned Fry's thoughts 'to democracy and the future of England' (and sandal wearing) after hearing his lectures in the 1880s. (42) Whilst Fry's Cambridge friend C. R. Ashbee was heavily influenced by William Morris and eventually established a Guild of Handicraft in his mentor's image, Carpenter's democratic aesthetics of somatic responsiveness left their influence on Fry's later essays on art, collected as Vision and Design (1920). (43) As Fry worked through the aesthetics and ethics of the 1880s in the early twentieth century, keeping clear of political affiliations and activism, Leonard Woolf pursued a more practical interest in Fabian politics under the guidance of the Webbs.
For Virginia Woolf, however, the surviving traces of the political aesthetics of 1880s Bloomsbury were in many ways more problematic than the pragmatics of Shaw and the Webbs because they threatened her tentative steps towards forming an individualist and autonomous radical aesthetic. If the mainstream Fabian Society represented, as Williams argues, another example of the cool 'social conscience' of a fraction of the ruling class, then the ethical idealism that characterized the Fellows of the New Life, many followers of Morris, and members of the early Independent Labour Party in the 1880s and 1890s represented something rather different: a radical sympathy that sought to elide the individual in the name of solidarity. This self-deadness was in sharp contradistinction to Woolf's interests in the aesthetics of subjective individuality, and it was troublingly close to the nineteenth-century association of womanhood with self-sacrifice and altruism. Woolf's works thus consistently deconstruct the affect of sympathy in pursuit of free, civilized individuality for a woman, and hence retreat from the ethical aesthetics of 1880s socialism.
The contrasts between Roger Fry, Leonard, and Virginia, and--more significantly--between the political aesthetics of the 1880s and of Bloomsbury are most clear in Woolf's writings concerning the Women's Co-operative Guild. Virginia Woolf's old acquaintance Margaret Llewelyn Davies had been active in the Guild since the mid-1880s, and by the early twentieth century she was not only its national secretary but had also overseen the massive expansion of its membership and sphere of action. (44) The Guild had been founded with the simple aim of fostering working-class women's involvement in the co-operative movement by encouraging them to save and shop using their local branch store. By the early twentieth century, however, Llewelyn Davies, like Clementina Black, believed that the co-operative movement represented an advance in the 'control of industry by the people for the people' and the Guild itself, an unprecedented opportunity for working women to make their voices heard. (45) The Woolfs were prompted by Llewelyn Davies to embark on a fact-finding mission to northern manufacturing towns in the spring of 1913, shortly after Woolf submitted her first novel, The Voyage Out, to the publishing house owned by her half-brother Gerald Duckworth. (46) The tour of jam factories and girls' clubs culminated with the Woolfs attending the annual conference of the Women's Co-operative Guild in Newcastle; Edward Garnett, meanwhile, was drafting an enthusiastic report on The Voyage Out for Duckworth in Limpsfield. (47)
For Leonard, at least, the experience of seeing a series of working-class women stand up and address the congress on current political subjects was, he wrote to Llewelyn Davies, 'simply absorbing': 'Virginia is so enthusiastic that she will not rest until she is sent again some day as a delegate'. Virginia added in her own hand 'this is quite true about both of us. Being ignorant does not mean that one cant [sic] at least appreciate (however being ignorant only applies to me)'.48 Leonard's account of Virginia's response--of her absorption, enthusiasm and desire to be one of these women speaking for fellow working women--sits oddly with Virginia's anxious overstatement of veracity and more distanced condition of ignorant appreciation. If Leonard thinks Virginia wants to be one of the delegates, then Virginia tries to appreciate these women, to evaluate them in the terms of Paterian aesthetic criticism, to know them as they really are by the impression they make on her, whilst knowing nothing of their material history. (49)
These contrasting states--knowledge and appreciation, absorption and detachment--led to some tension between Virginia Woolf and Llewelyn Davies when she returned to the subject of the conference nearly twenty years later in her preface to the collection of memoirs of working-class Guildswomen, Life as We Have Known It (1931). (50) But at the time Woolf's response to the congress was one of expression rather than of absorption. Writing to her friend the simple-lifer and Neo-Pagan Ka Cox, Woolf was thrilled by the potential power labour activism offered women of her generation:
I see at a glance that nothing--except perhaps novel writing--can compare with the excitement of controlling the masses. The letters you'd get! The jobs you would be sent on--and then people would always be telling you things, and if you could move them you would feel like a God. I see now where Margaret [Llewelyn Davies] and even Mary McArthur get their Imperial tread. The mistake I've made is in mixing up what they do with philanthropy. Why don't you force yourself into some post when you get back--in 6 months time you'd be driving about 6,000 helpless women in front of you. (51)
The 'mistake' Woolf made of mixing the work of Llewelyn Davies and Mary McArthur with philanthropy is not, in this case, that of blurring political categories. Woolf does not experience a sudden realization that socialism represents an analysis in absolute opposition to the sort of Victorian philanthropy practised by her mother, Julia Stephen, and half-sister, Stella Duckworth. She is, rather, correcting the assumption that such activism depends upon the feminized qualities of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice that made nineteenth-century philanthropy the necessary corollary of liberal individualism. Think of Mrs Ramsay's self-cancelled self in To the Lighthouse: a life fully absorbed into others, Visiting
this widow, or that struggling wife in person with a bag on her arm, and a note-book and pencil with which she wrote down in columns carefully ruled for the purpose wages and spendings, employment and unemployment, in the hope that thus she would cease to be a private woman. (52)
Suddenly the organization of labour seems to present a means by which a woman can become a great public self, even one worthy of an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. Three weeks before her first novel was accepted for publication, Woolf considered the alternative of being a labour leader and wielding power in a manner that matched her art at the time, namely, controlling the masses as a novelist controls her characters.
By 1931, when she came to write her preface to Life as We Have Known It for the Guild, such will to individual power by swaying the masses with affective rhetoric had been worked too far into the fabric of fascism for Woolf to claim it again. Her introductory letter instead returns upon the Guild congress of 1913 as 'a revelation and a disillusionment' that 'humiliated and enraged' her. Woolf's letter to Ka Cox at the time maintained an analogy--deeply problematic as it was--between the woman artist and the labour leader: both could take the stories and desires of the mass and craft them into some kind of history, some tangible social effects. But by 1931 the art of the novelist and the politics of the collective were radically out of joint. Woolf cannot even affirm that the work she prefaces is a book, or that her preface is a 'Preface'. Rather, Woolf insists, the preface is a letter addressed to a single old friend about the many letters that follow it. Woolf's text is troubled by the aesthetic status of this book, which in its very title affirms the collective as the site of knowledge and experience, and which contains this experience of the material world within the covers of the Woolfs' Hogarth Press, better-known for its works of high art.
Woolf's negation of the collective as a site of aesthetic experience is worked through the text in terms that indicate her familiarity with, and resistance to, late nineteenth-century structures of feeling. She recalls her experience of the women of the Guild in at the 1913 conference and notes that they wanted material goods like 'baths and money':
To expect us, whose minds, such as they are fly free at the end of a short length of capital to tie ourselves down to that narrow plot of acquisitiveness and desire is impossible. We have baths and we have money. Therefore, however much we had sympathised, our sympathy was largely fictitious. It was aesthetic sympathy, the sympathy of the eye and of the imagination, not of the heart and of the nerves; and such sympathy is always physically uncomfortable. (53)
Sympathy of the heart and the nerves--the life blood of nineteenth-century sentiment and affect--simply no longer functions alongside the aesthetic sympathy of the artist's imagination in the modernist era. Woolf dramatizes her attempt to integrate with the meeting by jumping into 'the person of Mrs Giles of Durham', a miner's wife (p. xx). But after all, Woolf concludes, 'the imagination is largely the child of the flesh' and her own body (and mind) is too supple to inhabit Mrs Giles: it lacks the stiffness, the density, the rawness of these women 'stamped' with slow-moving determination and labour (p. xxi):
One could not be Mrs Giles of Durham because one's body had never stood at the washtub; one's hands had never wrung and scrubbed and chopped up whatever meat it may be that makes a miner's supper. The picture was therefore always letting in irrelevancies. One sat in an armchair or read a book. One saw landscapes and seascapes, perhaps Greece or Italy, where Mrs Giles [...] must have seen slag heaps and row upon row of slate-roofed houses. (p. xxi)
Woolf's experience and imagination are composed of what the Bloomsbury interpretation of Moore's philosophy construed as 'reality': ideas, art, the 'good'. (54) Mrs Giles of Durham, on the other hand, is confined to the 'phenomenal' materiality of cheap meat, raw red hands, and slag heaps. Woolf's sympathy must therefore remain 'thin spread and moon coloured', with 'no life blood or urgency about it'. (55)
Hermione Lee argues that Woolf's feminist programme is 'above all a literary one [...] inextricably bound up with her desire to "revolutionise biography"'. (56) It would be easy to assume that the opportunity of writing the preface to Life as We Have Known It offered a glorious piece of serendipity for Woolf in this respect. Just as Woolf was refining the lecture that was to become A Room of One's Own, with its imaginative leap into the untold story of Shakespeare's sister, here was an opportunity to reflect on another revolution in biography: that of working-class women writing their own life stories. But Woolf's judgement on these testaments remains a purely aesthetic judgement of their shortcomings. The texts 'threw some light upon the old curiosities' that had made the congress 'so thick with unanswered questions' for Woolf, but the matter of working-class women's lives 'lacked variety and play of feature. Here are no reflections, [a literary critic] might object, no view of life as a whole, no attempt to enter into the lives of other people' (p. xxxvii). 'Indigenous and rooted to one spot', these working-class women cannot exercise the free play of aesthetic judgement, and thus cannot be individuals for Woolf as their desires are limited to things, like baths and money, that are means to an end (p. xxii). Biographies made up of baths and money (or, indeed, great public appointments and knighthoods) were precisely those testaments to the material self--the outer rather than the inner life--that Woolf was seeking to make impossible and irrelevant in her era.
In part Woolf's unease with the collective stories of the Women's Cooperative Guild is a result of what Kate Flint identifies as 'an anxiety, even an uncontrollable physical repulsion' felt by Woolf when 'confronted with the working classes en masse'. (57) In this case, however, Woolf's emphasis on the problem of sympathy indicates a more studied disavowal of a nineteenth-century representational tradition in which women writers used their feminine powers of feeling to imagine the lives of the poor for a middle-class audience. Woolf's discussion of how she simply cannot be Mrs Giles of Durham acknowledges a sense of difference in a way that Mrs Gaskell never could. It is no surprise, of course, given Woolf's self-conscious modernism, that her anti-sentimental aesthetic involves the rejection of the feminized Victorian pleasure of feeling with the struggling ones. Yet such aesthetic radicalism also strikes out the ethical idealism that had underpinned the religion of socialism in the 1880s and 1890s. The world of ideas and books, trips to Greece, and impressionist painting will never be accessible to Mrs Giles of Durham, just as Mrs Woolf of Bloomsbury cannot feel the anger and tiredness of a life of scrubbing and wringing. This, it seems, is because there is no longer a noumenal realm of organic unity that we can all feel together, united by a democratic common sense of aesthetic responsiveness.
A few years before the Woolfs attended the Guild conference, Gerald Duckworth published The Makers of our Clothes, a report on the London tailoring trades written by Constance Garnett's sister, Clementina Black. (58) Black argued that nearly all the workers she encountered in the course of the survey were 'good citizens who deserve well of their country, and who mostly receive, in return for prolonged and patient labour, a very small share in the joys, the comforts or the beauties of life' (p. 11). The democratic language of citizenship and material entitlement is welded, in a manner characteristic of the late nineteenth-century labour movement, to the ideal that all desire and respond to beauty. Black packs the study with short narratives tied to those things like baths and money that for Woolf prevent working-class women's entry into the aesthetic. Take, for instance, the case of the young girl who presses trousers for seven shillings a week:
She works in the same room with two young men pressers and is of [the] opinion that she presses trousers quite as well as they do. She [...] feels sure that they are not getting less than 18s. She began work at 2s. 6d. in this factory, four years ago and has risen by degrees, but had, to use her own phrase, 'a lot of trouble' to get her last rise of 1s. a week. She and her parents are, justly, much dissatisfied with her present wage, and are also displeased that the employer has not kept a promise that she should learn machining. That a young girl should spend four years of her life wielding heavy pressing irons in a hot, ill-ventilating room, and attain at the end no higher payment that 7s. a week, seems indeed a cruel state of things. (p. 50)
Virginia Woolf's response to these sorts of cases at the Guild conference in 1913 had been, she recalls (with some personal anachronism), to feel irritated and depressed that these were narratives that could go nowhere as women did not have the vote. By the early twentieth century, Black had come to a similar realization that women's suffrage was a necessary part of labour activism. (59) But Black also seems to have attempted another reform of representation for working-class women in the shape of narrative itself.
As Emma Francis argues, the 'snapshots' of women workers in Black's industrial investigations imagine 'a full, autonomous and dignified subjectivity for the working-class woman, as both woman and worker'. (60) The presser remains an agent in a community well aware of its rights and bargaining powers, and with just enough individual liberty to know that the value of her work is the same as that of men. In this construction of agency, this sense that stories of lives dominated by baths and money were stories that needed to be self-represented in the age of democracy, Black's work anticipates Llewelyn Davies's later editions for the Guild. Neither Black nor Llewelyn Davies were concerned with the aesthetic value of these stories as stories, but they both emerged from a nineteenth-century world of purposive literary realism in which reading of others remote from the self could develop a wider ethical sensibility: the act of representation was, in part at least, a necessary means of escaping the narrow lot of individualism.
By 1931 Woolf's aesthetic was no longer about marshalling six or six thousand characters to walk in her authorial step, or constructing a web of sympathy between characters and the implied reader, but flashing light out through the desires and imaginations of her subjects in order to explore individuation. In the 'Time Passes' section of To the Lighthouse (1927), the radical rejection of nineteenth-century sentimental narrative and temporal structure is paired with the sturdy constant of the charlady, Mrs McNab. The death of Mrs Ramsay is famously bracketed off as an aside in this section, imploding the nineteenth-century literary convention of the deathbed scene: '[Mr Ramsay stumbling along a passage stretched his arms out one dark morning, but, Mrs Ramsay having died rather suddenly the night before, he stretched his arms out. They remained empty]' (p. 118). This brilliant subversion of realism is sustained throughout the passage, in which 'history' and 'events' (the First World War, deaths, and worldly achievements) are relegated to brief addenda to the subjective passage of time in the consciousness of the abandoned house.
Only Mrs McNab remains a resolute object in this internalized world, as she stumps and 'leers' her way through the dusting:
Visions of joy there must have been at the wash-tub [...] Some cleavage of the dark there must have been, some channel in the depths of obscurity through which light enough issued to twist her face grinning in the glass and make her, turning to her job again, mumble out the old music hall song. Meanwhile the mystic, the visionary, walked the beach, stirred a puddle, looked at a stone, and asked themselves 'What am I?' 'What is this?' and suddenly an answer was vouchsafed them (what it was they could not say): so that they were warm in the frost and had comfort in the desert. But Mrs McNab continued to drink and gossip as before. (p. 120)
The passage is at once an account of irreconcilable difference, between the mystic living in the 'reality' of ideas and the charlady made of material phenomena, and, at the same time, full of subtle ironies that undermine such a limited reading. The radiant enlightenment of the mystic on the beach is contrasted with the dense obscurity of Mrs McNab, and neither the chink of light that makes the latter sing, nor the answers to the great questions posed by the former can ever meet in shaping a world. Kate Flint concludes that 'class positions are [thus] hierarchically reaffirmed' at the end of 'Time Passes'. (61) Yet the gentle mockery of that ungendered self, freed by a length of capital to ask 'What am I?' is unmistakable in the parenthesis '(what it was they could not say)' as it is in the bathos of Mrs McNab's world, persisting as ever in a solid community of drink and gossip. Woolf's radical aesthetic needed to claim a space for this androgynous 'mystic'--the writer--as an autonomous individual whose life and thought, unlike that of Mrs Ramsay (or Julia Stephen), was freed from thinking through Mrs McNab, freed from prioritizing ethical obligations over the aesthetic. Woolf's aesthetic is, in part, a refusal of the woman writer's assimilation in a nineteenth-century tradition of feminine sympathy, and, more broadly, the absorption of the upper middle-class woman into a life of duties towards others. But Woolf's very knowingness in playing with this tradition acknowledges, as in this passage, a sense of loss: the loss of an aesthetic realm of the ideal that could shape the world for more than one individual alone in the desert of modern life.
Woolf's evaluation of working-class women's contributions to Life as We Have Known It is couched in the same language of density and darkness that shapes Mrs McNab's mind, impenetrable to the rays of narrative consciousness in To The Lighthouse. 'These lives', Woolf concludes regarding the autobiographical fragments, 'are still half hidden in profound obscurity. To express even what is expressed here has been a work of labour and difficulty' (p. xxxvii). For the generation of socialists inspired by William Morris, art and labour had been part of the same somatic aesthetic tradition: a natural bodily pleasure derived from crafting beauty from nature. For Woolf, labour can only ever detract from art, and both exist in entirely different realms: phenomena and reality. (62) Floundering a little regarding what might be gained by those like herself from a closer unity with working-class women (the odd word subsisting in their vocabularies), Woolf concludes brightly: 'we have as much to give them as they to give us--wit and detachment, learning and poetry, and all those good gifts which those who have never answered bells or minded machines enjoy by right' (p. xxviii). The belief in a democracy of aesthetic responsiveness shared by Clementina Black, Constance Garnett, and so many socialists of the 1880s embraced feeling for others as a radicalizing site of collective unity. In her preface for the Guild, if not in her fiction, Woolf returns, by contrast, to the language of philanthropy: the aesthetic is the rightful gift of the privileged, and they may choose to share it with the less fortunate. It is neither a common capacity of desire nor a force for social transformation, but a means by which the individual freed by capital can effect her detachment from the world of material phenomena and write herself as an autonomous being.
The qualities of disinterested individual autonomy that are, for Woolf, the prerequisite of aesthetic responsiveness and artistic creation were ones that she was to apply directly to ethics in her essay Three Guineas (1938). Against a collectivist tradition of feminist anti-war writings, Woolf's polemic is grounded in middle-class women's disinterestedness--their freedom 'from unreal loyalties' and 'sex instincts' like 'patriotism'. (63) Whereas in the nineteenth century 'much valuable work was done for the working class by educated men's daughters', now that these daughters had acquired 'reason, tolerance, knowledge' through their hard-won educations, to 'play at belonging to the working class and adopting its cause' would be a matter for ridicule. (64) The 'daughters of educated men' should deflate war by their 'complete indifference', rather than passionate solidarity and sympathy. (65) Woolf's weapon of indifference is the ethical application of her argument for women's access to the hitherto masculine realm of 'disinterested' culture. (66) The essay strives to make the 'daughters of educated men' the epitome of the liberal subject, dismissing appeals to romantic sentiments of particularity with an assertion of the universal; 'As a woman my country is the whole world'. (67) It is as if, for Woolf, the absolute autonomy of the aesthetic offered a model of freedom inaccessible to women of the previous generation: a state in which women could be in themselves autonomous, rather than purely relative 'daughters'.
For George Bernard Shaw, who had been ostracized by many for abandoning his former position of neutrality during the First World War, this aspiration towards disinterestedness was in itself morally culpable. In his preface to the Chekovian drama Heartbreak House (1919) (a genre familiarized by Constance Garnett's translations) Shaw arraigned a generation of upper middle-class writers possessed of 'social opportunities of contact with our politicians, administrators, and newspaper proprietors' who failed to use their influence to prevent war:
They hated politics. They did not wish to realize Utopia for the common people: they wished to realize their favourite fictions and poems in their own lives; and, when they could, they lived without scruple on incomes which they did nothing to earn [...] They took the only part of our society in which there was leisure for high culture, and made it an economic, political, and, as far as practicable, a moral vacuum; and as Nature, abhorring the vacuum, immediately filled it up with sex and with all sorts of refined pleasures, it was a very delightful place to be. (68)
If Shaw held the individualizing autonomous aesthetics of Bloomsbury responsible for abandoning collective cultural engagement--for not speaking of the aesthetic as a symbol of morality--Woolf held the material pragmatism of Shaw and the Webbs responsible for her amorality. The Fabian emphasis on material security and collective ownership as a means to individualism and increasing specialization was a complement to Bloomsbury's own aesthetic specialization. As fractions that distinguished themselves from the ruling class, but were, in so many ways, an immediate part of it by this time, both groups developed what Williams terms 'a social conscience' that aimed 'in the end to protect the private consciousness'. (69) Shaw's intellectual 'superman' provided the brains of social engineering; Woolf's visionary artist ensured that aesthetic development continued on in its straight line of autonomy, perceptible to those individuals freed by capital to see it. Romantic radical appeals to a people bound together by common feeling were, of course, still in existence in the early twentieth century. But by the 1930s, at least, it was not the socialist movement that sought to knit together politics and aesthetics in this manner. A year before Woolf published Three Guineas, Arthur Penty, a former follower of Morris, Guild Socialist, and art critic of the New Age, concluded that fascism was the natural reaction to the poison and ugliness of modernism and Bolshevism. Fascism, he argued, appreciated the 'strong sense of reality' imbued in 'traditional things' and thus offered the only hope of knitting together the people with a politics of collective, productive art. (70)
(1) Letter from Virginia Woolf to Janet Case, 21 May 1922, in The Letters of Virginia Woolf, ed. by Nigel Nicholson and Joanne Trautmann, 6 vols (London: Hogarth Press, 1975-80), II: 1912-1922: The Question of Things Happening (1976), p. 529.
(2) See Duncan Wilson, Leonard Woolf: A Political Biography (London: Hogarth Press, 1987).
(3) Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room (1922; London: Grafton, 1976), p. 32. Further references are to this edition and will be given in the text.
(4) Stephen Yeo, 'A New Life: The Religion of Socialism in Britain, 1883-1896', History Workshop Journal, 4 (1977), 5-55 (p. 7). See also Stanley Pierson, British Socialists: The Journey from Fantasy to Politics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979).
(5) Mark Bevir, 'British Socialism and American Romanticism', English Historical Review, 110 (1995), 878-901.
(6) Preface to Major Barbara (1905), in George Bernard Shaw, Collected Prefaces (London: Odhams, 1938), pp. 121-22.
(7) The Vulgarization of Art: The Victorians and Aesthetic Democracy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1996).
(8) Ian Britain, Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 143, 226-29.
(9) Peter Beilharz, Labour's Utopias (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 51-90.
(10) Chris Waters, British Socialists and the Politics of Popular Culture, 1884-1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), pp. 131-45.
(11) See LeeAnne Marie Richardson, 'Naturally Radical: The Subversive Poetics of Dollie Radford', Victorian Poetry, 38 (2000), 109-24; and Ruth Livesey, 'Dollie Radford and the Ethical Aesthetics of Fin-de-siecle Poetry', Victorian Literature and Culture, 34 (2006), 495-517.
(12) Clark Library, University of California, Los Angeles, MSS R126: Dollie Radford Diary, 3 April 1893. For the longevity of the Radfords' beliefs and their later dismissal as 'sentimental' see Ernest Radford, 'A Friendly Letter', New Age, 9, 13 July 1911, p. 259; and J. M. Kennedy, 'A Friendly Letter', New Age, 9, 20 July 1911, p. 284.
(13) See, for example, the letter from Sydney Olivier to Edward Pease, 20 October 1899, cited in Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie, The First Fabians (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977), p. 271.
(14) MacKenzie, pp. 99-100.
(15) Richard Garnett, Constance Garnett: A Heroic Life (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1991), p. 147.
(16) Letter from Henry Salt to Edward Carpenter, 29 February 1892, Sheffield City Library Carpenter Collection 356/9.
(17) George Jefferson, Edward Garnett: A Life in Literature (London: Cape, 1982), pp. 15-39.
(18) Rebecca Beasley, 'Russia and the Invention of the Modernist Intelligentsia', in Geographies of Modernism, ed. by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (London: Routledge, 2005), pp. 19-30.
(19) Letter from Constance Garnett to Natalie Duddington, 26 November 1917, cited in R. Garnett, Constance Garnett, p. 299.
(20) David Garnett attributed his mother's resignation to the fact that 'Constance and [...] Clementina cordially detested the Potter sisters and particularly hated the brand of State Socialism which owed so much to the efforts of Mr and Mrs Sidney Webb': The Golden Echo (London: Chatto & Windus, 1953), p. 8.
(21) MacKenzie, p. 278.
(22) Cecil Reddie, a member of the Fellowship of the New Life, founded Abbotsholme with funding from Edward Carpenter. J. H. Badley, who had been in Roger Fry and Lowes Dickinson's circle at Cambridge, opened the co-educational Bedales in 1893. Its ethos shaped the Neo-Pagan interest in outdoor pursuits and the simple life of comradeship. See Paul Delaney, The Neo-Pagans: Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1987), pp. 12-15.
(23) Paula Krebs, Gender, Race and the Writing of Empire: Public Discourse and the Boer War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 1-31.
(24) Virginia Woolf, 'Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown', Nation, 34 (1923), 342.
(25) R. Garnett, Constance Garnett, pp. 308-09.
(26) Constance Garnett, pp. 294-95.
(27) Vanessa Bell's son Quentin also married into the second generation of 1880s socialism (twice over) in 1952 by wedding Anne Olivier Popham, the daughter of Brynhild Olivier (daughter of Sydney and sister of Noel) and Arthur Ewart 'Hugh' Popham (nephew of Ernest Radford).
(28) But see Peter Stansky, William Morris and Bloomsbury (London: Cecil Woolf, 1997), p. 7 for the 'presence' of Morris in Woolf's early reading.
(29) Delaney, p. 42.
(30) On Brooke's anti-Semitism see Robert Ebbatson, An Imaginary England: Nation, Landscape and Literature, 1840-1920 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), pp. 149-55.
(31) Letter from Beatrice Webb to Kate Courtney, 18 September 1911, cited in Paul Levy, G. E. Moore and the Cambridge Apostles (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979), p. 5.
(32) Levy, p. 5.
(33) Levy, p. 7; Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (London: Chatto, 1996) p. 302; Tom Regan, Bloomsbury's Prophet: G. E. Moore and the Development of his Moral Philosophy (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986), pp. 3-28; S. P. Rosenbaum, 'Preface to a Literary History of the Bloomsbury Group', New Literary History, 12 (1981), 329-44 (p. 337).
(34) See W. C. Lubenow, The Cambridge Apostles, 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
(35) On Brooke's self-styled 'Morrisite' paper 'Democracy and the Arts', delivered to the Cambridge Fabians in 1911, see Britain, pp. 266-70.
(36) Rupert Brooke, 1908, in The Letters of Rupert Brooke, ed. by Geoffrey Keynes (London: Faber and Faber, 1968).
(37) Letter from Noel Olivier to Rupert Brooke, 13 May 1912, in Song of Love: The Letters of Rupert Brooke and Noel Olivier, ed. by Pippa Harris (London: Bloomsbury, 1991), p. 174.
(38) Virginia Woolf, 'Old Bloomsbury', in Moments of Being, ed. Jeanne Schulkind, new edn introduced and rev. by Hermione Lee (London: Pimlico, 2002), p. 47.
(39) Stansky, William Morris and Bloomsbury, p. 24.
(40) Raymond Williams, 'The Bloomsbury Fraction', in Problems in Materialism and Culture (London: Verso, 1980), pp. 148-69.
(41) Williams, pp. 155, 156. idealism guided by Moore. Woolf herself suggested in her biography of Fry that
(42) Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry: A Biography (1940; London: Vintage, 2003), p. 47.
(43) Peter Stansky, William Morris, C. R. Ashbee and the Arts and Crafts (London: Nine Elms Press, 1984). For Fry's reaction against Morris (and Ruskin) see 'Art and Life' (1917), written as a lecture for the Fabian Society.
(44) Gillian Scott, Feminism and the Politics of Working Women: The Women's Cooperative Guild, 1880s to the Second World War (London: UCL Press, 1998), pp. 35-66.
(45) 'Editor's Note', Life as We Have Known It, ed. by Margaret Llewelyn Davies (London: Hogarth Press, 1931), p. ix.
(46) See Sybil Oldfield, 'Margaret Llewelyn Davies and Leonard Woolf', in Women in the Milieu of Leonard and Virginia Woolf: Peace, Politics and Education, ed. by Wayne Chapman and Janet Manson (New York: Pace University Press, 1998), pp. 3-32; Lee, pp. 327-29. On the role of this encounter on Leonard Woolf's subsequent career with the Fabians see Leonard Woolf, Beginning Again: An Autobiography of the Years 1911-1918 (London: Hogarth Press, 1964), pp. 105, III.
(47) Lee, p. 329; Jefferson, pp. 186-87.
(48) Letter from Leonard Woolf to Margaret Llewelyn Davies, 13 June 1913, in The Letters of Leonard Woolf, ed. by Frederick Spotts (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989), p. 381.
(49) Walter Pater, Appreciations: With an Essay on Style (1889). See Perry Meisel, The Absent Father: Virginia Woolf and Walter Pater (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980).
(50) Llewelyn Davies objected to Woolf's focus on the aesthetic limitations of working-class women; see Lee, p. 359.
(51) Letter from Virginia Woolf to Ka Cox, 18 March 1913, in Letters of Virginia Woolf, ii, 19.
(52) Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927; London: Folio Society, 1988), p. 8.
(53) V. Woolf, Life as We Have Known It, p. xxvi. Further references are given in the text.
(54) Lee, p. 302.
(55) V. Woolf, Life as We Have Known It, p. xviii.
(56) Lee, p. 13.
(57) Kate Flint, 'Virginia Woolf and the General Strike', Essays in Criticism, 36 (1986), 319-35 (p. 323).
(58) Mrs Carl Meyer and Clementina Black, The Makers of our Clothes: A Case for Trade Boards (London: Duckworth, 1909). Further, specific references are given in the text.
(59) See Clementina Black 'The Year's Progress in the Women's Suffrage Movement', The Englishwoman, 4 (1910), 255-60.
(60) 'Why Wasn't Amy Levy More of a Socialist? Levy and Clementina Black', in Amy Levy, ed. by Nadia Valman (forthcoming).
(61) Flint, p. 332.
(62) In this Woolf appears out of step with the association of labour with modernist selfhood suggested in Morag Shiach, Modernism, Labour and Selfhood in British Literature and Culture, 1890-1930 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
(63) For an example of this collectivist tradition see Olive Schreiner Woman and Labour (London: Fisher Unwin, 1911); Susan Pederson, Women's Stake in Democracy: Eleanor Rathbone's Answer to Virginia Woolf (Austin, TX: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre, 2000), p. 23; and Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas, ed. by Michele Barrett (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993), p. 203.
(64) Three Guineas, p. 310.
(65) Three Guineas, pp. 234-35.
(66) Jane Marcus, '"No More Horses": Virginia Woolf on Art and Propaganda', Women's Studies, 4 (1977), 265-90 (p. 273); and Brenda R. Silver, 'The Authority of Anger: Three Guineas as a Case Study', Signs, 16 (1991), 340-70.
(67) Three Guineas, p. 234.
(68) Shaw, Preface to Heartbreak House (1919), in Collected Prefaces, pp. 378- 79.
(69) Williams, p.167.
(70) A. J. Penty, Tradition and Modernism in Politics (London: Sheed & Ward, 1937), p. 58.
Ruth Livesey Royal Holloway, University of London
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|Title Annotation:||George Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb, socialist movement|
|Publication:||Yearbook of English Studies|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|
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