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123 Handwritten: [late August/early September 1940].



Dear Virginia,

I must write to say how much I admired your life of Roger Fry. Speaking as a fellow-biographer, I can't imagine a harder problem, the writing the life of a friend soon after his death. On the one hand one must know too much: on the other one is allowed to say too little. To compose a portrait definite in outline yet not overweighted with detail would seem nearly impossible. But it is possible: you have done it. Perhaps R. F's [begin strikethrough]fir[end strikethrough] individuality is a little less vividly realised in boyhood & youth than it is later. But that is inevitable, since you must have made his acquaintance yourself later. As a whole the [begin strikethrough]book[end strikethrough] portrait is equally consistent & living. I felt I had known him. And I only wished I [begin strikethrough]cou[end strikethrough] had done so in real life. What a charming character & what an impressive attitude of mind! That mixture of hedonistic philosophy & serious Quaker prejudice is whimsical, but it too has a charm. I don't think I like people to be consistent.

It seems a long time since we met. I have washed up in a sort of backwater of the war in this place, where Rachel the baby & I are spending the long vacation. And I spend my time reading for Oxford Work. It involves deliberately averting one's mind from the war: but I do not know why one should contemplate what one cannot alleviate. Meanwhile I [begin strikethrough]read abt[end strikethrough] re-read the Victorian poets preliminary to lecturing on them. To my surprise I find that, often Tennyson, Christina Rosetti & Bridges wear much better than anyone else.

Yrs truly

David Cecil


David Cecil (1902-1986) was the son of Robert and Eleanor Cecil and a prolific biographer who wrote about Lord Melbourne, Jane Austen, William Cowper, Walter de la Mare, and Charles Lamb, among others. He also wrote criticism about the early Victorian novelists, edited Modern Biography, and compiled anthologies. His teaching and his thinking about the Victorian poets may have contributed to his book on The English Poets (1941). See Woolf's reply, dated September 4, 1940, L6 426-27 (3642).

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Publication:Woolf Studies Annual
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:122 Typed; signed: August 31, 1940.
Next Article:124 Handwritten: September 1, [1940].

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