Virginia Woolf on Happiness Among the Plain

Virginia Woolf on people that you might think that she would think plain, and does, but then again, not. This while on holiday visiting some in-laws: a banker and his wife.

Why do I pity and deride the human race, when its lot is profoundly peaceful and happy? They have nothing to wish for. They are entirely simple and sane. She has her big dog. They turn on the Loud Speaker. When they take a holiday they go to the Spring of the Thames where it is as big as a man’s arm, not big enough for a boat; and they carry their boat till they can put it in, and then they skull all the way down to Marlow. Sometimes, she said the river is level with the banks; and it is perfectly deserted. Then she said to me suddenly, as we were looking down at the wood from her window ‘Thats where the poet Shelley wrote Islam. He tied his boat to the tree there. My grandfather had a walking stick cut from that tree.’ You always run up against poetry in England; and I like this dumb poetry; and I wish I could be like that. She will live to be 100; she knows exactly what she enjoys; her life seems to me incredibly happy. She is very plain; but entirely un-vex, unambitious; and I believe, entirely right.[1]

I’m neck-deep right now in Virginia Woolf’s letters, diaries, memoirs, novels, biographies, for some material on her going into The Orchid and the Dandelion, and it’s a gas; but seriously, I’d be perfectly happy right now just running a Woolf Tumblr, if it would pay the rent.

[1] Letter to Vita Sackville West, March 1, 1926. In Congneial Spirits, p 203.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *