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"Wretched Sparrows": protectionists, suffragettes and the Irish.

Although Edward Lear's "Mr and Mrs Spikky Sparrow" return from their visit to London "galloobious and genteel" in their newly-acquired headwear and apparel, from the mid-sixteenth century onwards England's towns, cities and countryside had been, in reality, rather less welcoming of Passer domesticus. Widely condemned as a verminous pest that ravaged cornfields, gardens and grain supplies, the house sparrow's alleged predilection for strident, unruly and even murderous behavior was also held against it, and this longstanding notoriety is enshrined, for example, in the opening stanza of "Who Killed Cock Robin?":
   Who killed Cock Robin?
   I, said the Sparrow,
   with my bow and arrow,
   I killed Cock Robin.


In turn, it was the sparrow's status as a despised outcast that led to it being championed by the likes of Clare and Keats, yet even Thomas Bewick, another of its Romantic supporters, had to concede that "it follows society, and lives at its expence; granaries, barns, court-yards, pigeon-houses, and in short all places where grain is scattered, are its favourite resorts." Nevertheless, Bewick goes on to observe without pause, "It is surely saying too much of this poor proscribed species to sum up its character in the words of the Count de Buffon:--'It is extremely destructive, its plumage is entirely useless, its flesh indifferent food, its notes grating to the ear, and its familiarity and petulance disgusting'" ("The House Sparrow" 155).

Bewick proceeds to draw attention to the benefits arising from the sparrow's insatiable appetite for caterpillars and to locate the bird within a less anthropocentric scheme of abundance, but this more exalted view of the sparrow did not hold sway in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when "most parishes had sparrow clubs, which dispensed money for dead birds and eggs" (Clark, "Irishmen of Birds," 16). Millions of sparrows were killed in Britain during this period, and the number of sparrow clubs increased rapidly in the 1880s and 1890s as the nation's burgeoning demand for food only intensified calls for the bird's extermination, while Ian Blyth, as part of his analysis of connections between Night and Day and the various Defence of the Realm Acts of 1914-18, notes the revival of such clubs during the First World War (Blyth 281-282). One late- Victorian proponent of eradication, a Colonel C. Russell, in his guise as "A Friend of the Farmers," argued that "we can do as well without sparrows as without rats and cockroaches" (Gurney, Russell and Coues 44), while the same volume in which his comments were published also contains an essay entitled "A Ruffian in Feathers" by Olive Thorne Miller, offering an American perspective on a bird that had been deliberately introduced into the United States from the United Kingdom with disastrous consequences. "The harshest cries of our native American birds, if not always musical in themselves, seem at least to accord in some way with sounds of nature," Miller begins. "The house-sparrow alone is entirely discordant--the one bird without a pleasing note, whose very love-song is an unmusical squeak. Nor is his appearance more interesting than his voice, and on looking into his manners and customs we discover most unlovely characteristics" (Gurney, Russell and Coues 63). Miller goes on to "chronicle the ruffian's monstrous deeds," accusing the sparrow, among other things, of brawling, "forcible divorce, and persecution of the unfortunate," infanticide, spousal brutality, disreputable morals, impudence, theft, autocracy and inveterate criminality (Gurney, Russell and Coues 63). But it was also around this time that the sparrow began to acquire a dedicated band of supporters, and this led to the so-called "Sparrow Question" (Gurney, Russell and Coues vi) being debated with no little rancor between those who advocated the bird's complete annihilation, and protectionists, often of a religious persuasion, who condemned its slaughter as both unnecessary and ungodly.

The campaign against the sparrow was led by W. B. Tegetmeier and Eleanor Ormerod. In a letter to the The Times of 13 January 1885, Ormerod, "de facto government entomologist for Britain, called for the extermination of the house sparrow" (Clark, "Irishmen of Birds," 17) and, along with Tegetmeier, she went on to bring out a pamphlet with the avowed aim of saving "the bread of the people from these feathered robbers" (Tegetmeier 90). In the run-up to its publication, Ormerod told Tegetmeier, "If we could rout P. domesticus it would be a national benefit" (Wallace 162), though she told another correspondent that she was intensely aware that she was addressing "things that involve discussion unbecoming in a lady writer" (Wallace 273). A prominent defender of the sparrow was the Reverend F. O. Morris, and he and his fellow, generally male, protectionists tended to dwell, as Ormerod feared they would, on her perceived deviation from the customary norms of maidenly conduct. Following the publication of her sparrow pamphlet, for example, the Reverend J. E. Walker publicly "entreated Ormerod not to 'steel' her 'compassionate, womanly heart' with her scientific studies. Instead, he suggested, she should devote herself to philanthropic works, and fulfil her duty as a woman" (Clark, "Eleanor Ormerod," 450), while Morris produced a short book called The Sparrow Shooter (1886), in which he ventured that "Miss Ormerod would have employed her time and her feminine talents much better if she had confined herself to the use of her needle in working for some charitable object or other" (Morris 4). Ormerod's most vocal opponent, however, was Edith Carrington, author of Spare the Sparrow (1897) and The Farmer and the Birds (1898), whose protectionist fervor epitomised the late-Victorian and early twentieth-century effort "to extend woman's role as moral guardian into the public realm" (Clark, "Eleanor Ormerod," 450). It is likely that Woolf has someone very like Carrington in mind in the "1914" chapter of The Years when Martin and Sara Pargiter encounter an "old lady" at Hyde Park's Speakers' Corner: her "audience was extremely small. Her voice was hardly audible. She held a little book in her hand and she was saying something about sparrows. But her voice tapered off into a thin frail pipe. A chorus of little boys imitated her" (TY 217). This woman is almost certainly a protectionist rather than an exterminator, and it is significant (given the connections between sparrows, the dispossessed and the Irish on which The Years may well draw and which I shall address below) that her words are indistinct, mocked and unheeded (a little further on Sara refers to her as "the poor old lady whom nobody listened to" [TY 218]).

As Christina Alt has helped to explain, it was Ormerod's resistance to the rigid gender stereotyping of such opponents as Morris, Walker and Carrington, rather than her zeal to kill sparrows, that accounts for Woolf's impassioned support of the entomologist in her "Miss Ormerod" essay of 1924 (E3 465; E4 131-140, 144-145). In Alt's words, Woolf represents Ormerod as "almost against her will and certainly against the conditions of her upbringing, challenging received values by means of her science" (Alt 139). Yet there is some evidence that as a young woman Woolf did share Ormerod's view of the sparrow as an avian pest. One day in June 1897, for example, Woolf helped her father plant seeds in the garden of 22 Hyde Park Gate in order "to produce grass--but whether the sparrows will have left any is a question. As soon as we had left the garden, the horrid little creatures swooped down twittering & made off with the oats etc" (PA 96). A week later, however, she was able to record in her journal that the grass was "already sprouting! Very thin & weakly indeed, but it is a comfort to think that the wretched sparrows did not get it all" (PA 100). Similarly, it is the sparrow's reputation as a greedy predator that Woolf seems to have in mind when, in 1926, she tells Edward Sackville-West that she "cannot write an elegant sentence when a flock of sparrows set on my thoughts directly they fall to the ground and peck them out on the keyboard" (L3 295), just as a passage in the fifth chapter of Orlando, where the mid-nineteenth century is characterized as a time when, among other things, "Rat and sparrow clubs were inaugurated," indicates that Woolf was conversant with this widespread means of suppressing the bird (O 177).

On the other hand, there is a far more copious and compelling body of evidence to suggest that Woolf was more typically inclined to sympathize with the "wretched sparrow" and to align herself with Romantic representations of it as a "poor proscribed species," while at the same time mobilizing the bird's negative associations as part of her struggle against patriarchal and imperialist oppression. Bonnie Kime Scott has argued that "Woolf uses animals politically to comment upon inequalities of class, gender, nation, and perhaps even race" (Scott 156), and she draws our attention to material in the Hyde Park Gate News that seems to indicate that, despite Virginia's "wretched sparrows" remark, the Stephen family were firmly of the protectionist persuasion. One 1892 entry, for example, detailing a boat trip to the Godrevy Lighthouse, records how "Miss Virginia Stephen saw a small and dilapidated bird standing on one leg on the light-house. Mrs Hunt called the man and asked him how it had got there. He said that it had been blown there and they then saw that it's [sic] eyes had been picked out" (HPGN 109; quoted Scott 50). Scott also reminds us that when Thoby Stephen, a keen naturalist, encountered nests containing eggs he was not tempted to take them away or destroy them, "as is consistent with the children's ethics in the Hyde Park Gate News" (Scott 57; see HPGN 59). Far more poignantly, in the weeks after Thoby died on 20 November 1906, Virginia dispatched a series of bulletins about his supposed recuperation to Violet Dickinson which must have been pure agony for her to concoct. In one of these, she introduces her imaginary account of the improving Thoby by excusing it as "an inarticulate scrawl, like the twitter of some frozen sparrow in the graveyard behind your house" (L1 264). It is almost as if Woolf envisages herself as the forlorn and moribund subject of one of Bewick's plaintive tail-pieces, (1) just as the quasi-passerine "Sparroy," of course, was one of the "menagerie of aliases" (L1 xviii) Virginia Stephen chose for herself when signing her many abject (and sometimes erotic) letters to Dickinson.

In her groundbreaking study Alt also discusses Woolf's 1920 essay on "The Plumage Bill" and how this polemic only reinforces Woolf's credentials as a protectionist (Alt 132-135). So it is worth noting in passing that it is not just this essay but also Mrs. Dalloway that contains striking evidence of Woolf's protectionist leanings. By means of "The Plumage Bill," Woolf "put herself right in the middle of the controversy surrounding the bird preservation movement and conservationist concerns as they had developed throughout the nineteenth century and as they existed in 1920" (Abbott 266), and during the course of her fourth novel Woolf draws together her strident opposition to the persecution of exotic birds and her passionate concern for the victims of shell-shock and other forms of patriarchal coercion. With her powerful denunciation of the cruelties of the plumage trade before us, and especially her condemnation of the "murder and torture" (E3 243) it routinely involved, it is highly significant that Sir William Bradshaw has a portrait of "Lady Bradshaw in ostrich feathers" (MD 86) hanging above his consulting-room mantelpiece. Beneath this grotesque image, some of Sir William's patients "weakly broke down; sobbed, submitted" (MD 86), while others, "Naked, defenceless ... exhausted ... received the impress of Sir William's will" (MD 86) in circumstances that are clearly less hideous but hardly less abhorrent than Woolf's description of how egrets and other birds were being trapped and tormented for their plumage amidst the "blazing South American landscape" (E3 242). Earlier in the novel, such ill-gotten plumes had also added to the disturbing intensity of one of Septimus's visions. On this occasion, Rezia had had to restrain him in Regent's Park, "or the excitement of the elm trees rising and falling, rising and falling with all their leaves alight and the colour thinning and thickening from blue to the green of a hollow wave, like plumes on horses' heads, feathers on ladies', so proudly they rose and fell, so superbly, would have sent him mad" (MD 19; italics added).

As Buffon had remarked with contempt, the plumage of the sparrow was "entirely useless," but at least two of Woolf's novels contain scenes that are made all the more resonant when they are read against the broader background of the "Sparrow Question," the various ways in which the sparrow was persecuted, and the negative associations this bird had acquired by the early twentieth century. In Chapter 13 of Night and Day, for example, we learn that Ralph Denham spends a great deal of every lunch-hour in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where the sparrows have come to expect "their daily scattering of bread-crumbs" (ND 163). One winter's day he is joined by the suffragist Mary Datchet:

"I've never seen sparrows so tame," Mary observed, by way of saying something.

"No," said Ralph. "The sparrows in Hyde Park aren't as tame as this. If we keep perfectly still, I'll get one to settle on my arm."

Mary felt that she could have forgone this display of animal good temper, but seeing that Ralph, for some curious reason, took a pride in the sparrows, she bet him sixpence that he would not succeed.

"Done!" he said; and his eye, which had been gloomy, showed a spark of light. His conversation was now addressed entirely to a bald cock-sparrow, who seemed bolder than the rest. (ND 164)

As Alt has observed, "Denham's benign interest in nature sets him in opposition to William Rodney, who is notable for his participation in the hunt and his unkindness to monkeys at the Zoo ... Even the simple act of feeding the sparrows in Lincoln's Inn Fields identifies Denham as belonging to the new generation of bird-lovers raised on protectionist principles" (Alt 155). Alt goes on to note that Denham's sheltering of an injured rook provides further evidence of his protectionist leanings, and, later on in the novel, Woolf may even have had in mind the event recorded in the Hyde Park Gate News quoted above as she reached for words to describe Ralph's wider social sympathies. "The unhappy voice afflicted Ralph," we are told of an elderly drunk he encounters on the Embankment in Chapter 28, "but it also angered him. And when the elderly man refused to listen and mumbled on, an odd image came to his mind of a lighthouse besieged by the flying bodies of lost birds, who were dashed senseless, by the gale, against the glass. He had a strange sensation that he was both lighthouse and bird; he was steadfast and brilliant; and at the same time he was whirled, with all other things, senseless against the glass" (ND 414).

Blyth, too, has brought intriguing contextual light to bear on Ralph's "interest in, and ... affinity with, London's sparrows" (Blyth 281), but there is even more to say, perhaps, than either he or Alt have suggested. Mary's lunchtime encounter with Ralph and his sparrows makes quite an impression on her, and in Chapter 14, for instance, we are told not only that Mary cannot concentrate on the facts and figures that have been tabled at a committee meeting, but that "her mind floated to Lincoln's Inn Fields and the fluttering wings of innumerable sparrows. Was Ralph still enticing the bald-headed cock-sparrow to sit upon his hand?" (ND 170). Mary is so distracted, in fact, that she even doodles a "bald-headed cock-sparrow" on her blotting paper. "She looked at Mr Clacton; yes, he was bald and so are cock- sparrows. Never was a secretary tormented by so many unsuitable suggestions ... The thought of what she might say made her bite her lips, as if her lips would protect her" (ND 170-171). Woolf seeks in Night and Day, as ever, to destabilize and interrogate conventional notions of decency and propriety, and it could be that we are simply meant to register Mary's doodle and the improper thoughts it provokes as tokens of the emotional disturbance her sudden "deep flood of desires" (ND 176) for Ralph has un-sluiced. But Mary returns to these sparrows more than once, and in ways that suggest that Woolf may also or alternatively have in mind more specific connections between sparrows and suffragettes. Later that day, having regained her composure, Mary returns to Lincoln's Inn Fields to find it deserted "and the sparrows silent in the bare trees" (ND 176), but in Chapter 20, which begins with her grievous disappointment "that by some obscure Parliamentary manoeuvre the vote had once more slipped beyond the attainment of women" (ND 266), Mary recalls this earlier afternoon when "she had spent the whole of a committee meeting in thinking about sparrows and colours" (ND 268). At one point in Chapter 14 Mary had found herself "looking out of the window, and thinking of the colour of the sky, and of the decorations on the Imperial Hotel" (ND 171), and it could be that these are the "colours," six chapters further on, she remembers musing about. But it is also possible that the colours Mary had in mind (in conjunction with sparrows), and has brought to mind once more, are the Women's Social and Political Union's purple, white and green. Jane Goldman has discussed both Woolf's "manipulation of these colours" in her fiction and their broader prominence in the Edwardian period, and it is tempting to read this chain of events in Night and Day as another "feminist gesture" (Goldman 68-75; quotes from 68) on Woolf's part. Sylvia Pankhurst recalled that in 1908 the "violence of the [anti-suffragist] rowdies met with little rebuke from political leader writers and under the heading, 'Sparrows for Suffragettes,' the Westminster Gazette stated, 'Essex has just provided two amusing Suffragist Incidents,' and described in the same spirit the letting loose of a flight of sparrows inside a hall where the women were speaking and the breaking up of a Suffragist meeting by boys who had rushed the speakers, and cast carbide on the wet roads" (Pankhurst 350). In the minds of the disrupters, it seems, the sparrow nuisance and the noxiousness of suffragettes were indistinguishable, and it is possible that such a connection (but without its negative connotations, of course) was also in play as Mary daydreamed of "sparrows and colours" during her suffragist committee. Significantly, the target reader of the Westminster Gazette at this time "was a gentleman relaxing in his club between work and the night's social events" ("Westminster Gazette") so it cannot be entirely coincidental, surely, that Woolf opens the very next chapter, Chapter 21, which is set around 1908, with a pointed jab at the intellectual content of this particular newspaper. The chapter begins with Mary travelling home from work by Tube rather than on foot and so reaching her apartment "in an incredibly short space of time, just so much, indeed, as was needed for the intelligent understanding of the news of the world as the Westminster Gazette reported it" (ND 279).

In The Waves, Bernard recalls that when he went for a walk in London the morning after learning of Percival's death "the sparrows were like toys dangled from a string by a child" (TW 211), which might seem a merely fanciful, even awkward turn of phrase until we realize that at the time that section of The Waves is set, "children might have parted with a penny or halfpenny to purchase a sparrow-on-a-string as a living kite" (Clark, "The Irishmen of Birds," 16). Furthermore, around the time such a "toy" reached the height of its popularity, the shrillness and supposed feistiness of sparrows led to them being linked with the Irish clamor for independence. In An Old Woman's Outlook in a Hampshire Village (1892), for example, the popular novelist Charlotte M. Yonge described sparrows as "poor despised creatures, whom someone has well named the Irishmen of birds, with their noise and their squabbles, their boldness and their ubiquity" (Yonge 16; partly quoted in Clark, "The Irishmen of Birds," 18). While I have been unable to trace the "someone" to whom Yonge refers, both as a child and a young woman Woolf had been a qualified admirer of Yonge's writings (2) and had read The Heir of Redclyffe (1853) on her honeymoon (L2 2, 6), so even though in 'Two Women' (1927) she quotes Yonge's declaration of her "full belief in the inferiority of women" (E4 420) without a trace of approval, it is perfectly possible that she encountered Yonge's comment about sparrows being the "Irishmen of birds" at first hand. Furthermore, the same association almost certainly underpins Yeats's "The Sorrow of Love," where "The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves" and "clamorous eaves" lend tumultuous voice to the poet's antipathy for populist militant republicanism. "The Sorrow of Love" is one of Yeats's earliest iterations of his despair at his beloved Maud Gonne becoming, as he saw it, so catastrophically embroiled in the raucous and incendiary grassroots struggle for Irish independence. Although he made a number of changes to this poem between composing it in October 1891--when it featured both "The quarrel of the sparrows in the eaves" and "the angry sparrows in the eaves"--its first publication in The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics (1892)--where the "angry sparrows" of his manuscript had been transformed into "warring sparrows"--and its appearance in its final form in 1925--where "The quarrel of the sparrows" was changed to "The brawling of a sparrow"--at no point, it seems, did Yeats consider dislodging his fractious Irish sparrow(s) from its rowdy Irish eaves (Stallworthy 47-48).

It is possible that Irish nationalists and London's sparrows are linked in exactly the same way in The Years. As Anna Snaith has remarked, "Ireland frames the published novel, from Delia's daydreams about Parnell to her marriage to Anglo-Irish Patrick" (TY lxv), and as she watches the earth fall into her mother's grave at the end of the "1880" chapter, Delia hears both "the sparrows chirp quicker and quicker" and "life [coming] closer and closer" (TY 77). The excited sparrows herald not only Delia's imminent emancipation from Abercorn Terrace, but also the greater commitment she will be able to make toward the struggle for Irish self-determination once she herself has been liberated. Given the novel's pronounced Irish strand, therefore, is it entirely coincidental that in the "1891" chapter, just after we hear newspaper vendors proclaiming the death of Parnell, we are also told that "the shrill chatter of the birds on the eaves was silenced" (TY 104)? From a matter-of-fact perspective, of course, this silencing of the sparrows is simply explained by their commotion having been drowned out by "the general churn and uproar" (TY 102) of the London traffic; but could the muffling of their "shrill chatter ... on the eaves" be more resonantly an act of "Irish" homage marking the passing of a great leader? Rather than being silenced perforce, have these "Irishmen of birds" (who were surely familiar to Woolf through "The Sorrow of Love," if not through her reading of Charlotte M. Yonge) been "silenced" out of shock, respect and grief? It is more than possible, I would argue, just as when, near the beginning of the "1914" chapter, we read that Martin Pargiter believes it "must need some pluck ... to write 'God is love' on the gates of Apsley House" (TY 204), are we are not asked to reflect not only on the Duke of Wellington's Ascendancy roots and his imposing London home, but more specifically on the carnage of Cromwell's Siege of Drogheda in 1649, the slaughterous engagement that turned out to be the opening act of his conquest of Ireland? As the Citizen asks: "What about sanctimonious Cromwell and his ironsides that put the women and children of Drogheda to the sword with the bible text God is love pasted round the mouth of his cannon?" (Joyce 273-274). The annotators of Ulysses comment that this motto "is apparently apocryphal but an apt caricature" (Gifford 365), but whether Woolf's source for this passage is the "Cyclops" episode of Ulysses or an unidentified history book or the Bible (1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16), it is important to note that immediately following it a flock of sparrows is sighted outside St. Paul's and an old man arrives to feed them:

Soon he was haloed by a circle of fluttering wings. Sparrows perched on his head and his hands ... Then there was a ripple in the air. The great clock, all the clocks of the city, seemed to be gathering their forces together; they seemed to be whirring a preliminary warning. Then the stroke struck. "One" blared out. All the sparrows fluttered up into the air; even the pigeons were frightened; some of them made a little flight round the head of Queen Anne. (TY 204-205)

The old man's concern for the sparrows of St. Paul's mirrors God's solicitude for the most humble of his creatures (Luke 12:6; Luke 12:7; Matthew 10: 29-31), of course, and is also suggestive of St. Francis of Assisi's famously close relationship to these birds, but because the simultaneous chiming of the City's clocks resounds like a salvo of cannon, and the sparrows take fright at such an ominous and war- like explosion, the Irish associations of the sparrow, and more specifically the Siege of Drogheda, perhaps, are evoked once again. Finally, given that St. Paul's and the Houses of Parliament epitomized, for Woolf, the entrenched patriarchal power of Church and State, when we read at the beginning of the "1891" chapter of The Years that sparrows and starlings "whitened the heads of the sleek statues holding rods or rolls of paper in Parliament Square" (TY 79), it would be unwise to assume these birds are defecating at random. Could it be, indeed, that they are targeting the statue of Oliver Cromwell in particular? Situated just off Parliament Square and unveiled much to the outrage of Irish Nationalist MPs in 1899, Cromwell is not depicted holding "rods or rolls of paper," but far more controversially, with his zealous campaign in Ireland in mind, a sword and a Bible.

Overall, it is important to appreciate that the novel's Irish theme--beginning with Delia's idealistic commitment to "the Cause" (TY 101); finding its pathetic fulfilment in the spuriousness of "her imitation Irish flattery" (TY 326; italics added), her "assuming the manner of a harum-scarum Irish hostess" (TY 329; italics added), and "her rather exaggerated Irish sing-song" (TY 361; italics added), before reaching its grotesque apotheosis in Patrick's blinkered view that the Irish would "be glad to join the Empire again" (TY 362)--is only partly conveyed through the story of Delia's capitulation to the entrenched values of her upbringing and her husband's Establishment mindset. Delia's fantasy of a romantic entanglement with Parnell is travestied in her long marriage to a scion of the Protestant Ascendancy, whose sympathies are clearly Unionist and whose family "has served its king and country for three hundred years" (TY 362)--almost certainly having planted its roots, that is, on land seized from Catholics by Cromwell and his army during his forcible Settlement of Ireland in the mid-seventeenth century. But the Irish theme also encompasses, among other things, the "Irishmen of birds" and the Apsley House graffito. This is not to claim, of course, that every sparrow in The Years is an avian Irishman; what Charlotte M. Yonge called these "poor despised creatures" are also associated with the masses, the excluded and the immured Pargiter women of Abercorn Terrace in the novel. But some of its sparrows have a distinctly Hibernian ring to them, it seems reasonable to suggest, once we adjust our ears to their clamor.

One of the first steps of Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward (1958-1962) was to order the extermination of what he deemed the four great pests of China: rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows. "Everyone come and fight sparrows" proclaimed one propaganda poster featuring a boy with a catapult and his admiring sister looking skyward for targets. Mao's campaign led to ecological disaster as the near elimination of China's sparrows meant that crop-eating insects, especially locusts, flourished ("Four Pests Campaign"), but for students of Woolf, Mao's grave underestimation of the humble sparrow reminds us, yet again, that when we fail to attend to her texts with sufficient diligence, precision and imagination, it is more than likely that, one way or another, those texts will escape us. Accordingly, the main point of this essay is not necessarily to be found in its interpretative speculations (claims which must always be debatable, if not controversial), but in its reaffirmation of the rich potentiality of Woolf's fiction and the ongoing need for her readers to approach all her writings with ever more open minds. We must be un-noddingly alert not just to Woolf's elevated preoccupations, but her everyday events; not just to her grand and imposing structures, like St. Paul's, but to the ordinary things that move about outside them, such as London's maligned and plumeless sparrows.

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(1) "It is quite true that I still know all my beasts from their pictures in Bewick which we were shown before we could listen to reading aloud" (L1 165).

(2) 'Y for Miss Yonge/ Who Manythings can tell', "An Easy Alphabet for Infants" (HPGN 8).
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Author:Bradshaw, David
Publication:Woolf Studies Annual
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2014
Words:5478
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