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message 1: by Sarah (last edited Jan 26, 2017 05:32AM) (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
I know this will seem completely random but this group has analysed Thoby's character before - I had no idea Thoby threw himself out of a window [Virginia Woolf, James King]. I know he was ill at the time but that seems dramatically uncharacteristic.

Engaging in a little armchair psychology here, because we'd previously discussed how he seemed to be an anchor for many of the Cambridge Apostles, it does seem like Thoby was a boy's-own-boy who felt somewhat rejected by his hyper-intellectual father; consequently, he seemed to court the affection of the hyper-intellectual Apostles; meanwhile, the hyper-intellectual Apostles seemed to court the affection of the manly-man Thoby, many of them having been slighted or abandoned by their own manly-man fathers or male role-models.

Just puttin that out there, for all the beans it's worth.

message 2: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments

I know one should not believe everything you read on Wikipedia, but it claims he contracted typhoid in Greece and died shortly after his return to England.

How to square that with "threw himself out of the window"?
Perhaps the typhoid induced depression or hallucinations or something?

It is also very sad, considering that Virginia eventually committed suicide also.

Are you thinking that perhaps, aside from the typhoid, he was suffering from a broken heart or something and acted impulsively?

message 3: by Sarah (last edited Jan 26, 2017 08:56AM) (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
Sorry, I should have added more details - he didn't die when he threw himself out the window. This was something that happened when he was younger. But it is curious because Virginia first tried to kill herself (later) by throwing herself out a window. And, of course, Septimus Smith does commit suicide that way in Mrs Dalloway...

I don't know if anyone has done a serious biographical study of Thoby Stephen. He always seemed pretty straightforward to me - but perhaps he isn't. There must be a good article out there. I like to know more about the group outliers... especially someone who seemed to play such a pivotal role in the lives of the core members.

I have actually visited Thoby's grave, completely on accident. I was in Highgate East searching for the burial place of one of my obscure mid-Victorian illustrators when I saw an odd little rise on the edge of the yard, enclosed by thick trees. Curious, I climbed up it and there were a handful of Stephens or Jacksons buried there - but, ahoy, Thoby. Perhaps that is why I feel a little attached to him ^_^

Here is a photo I took:

message 4: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments Sarah,

Good sleuthing; even if accidentally, his gravestone caught your eye!

It always seemed to me that the Stephen sisters made their great escape from the family home clinging to the anchor of Thoby's male privilege. I don't say that to diminish him at all; in a family containing a self-absorbed father and at least one abusive (half) brother, Thoby seems like the decent one in the bunch.

His experience at Cambridge was gift-wrapped; he was a man and he could commune with his fellow men. But yes, I see your point; what would make him jump out a window at an early age?

It does seem like the Stephens had a sort of hereditary fragility (except for Vanessa, who seems to have been able to channel it in a healthy way.)

Surely someone before you has wondered about Thoby. The trouble is, all the Woolf and Bell children never met him, because they were not born yet, more or less. And unless there are letters (there must be letters), how will anyone know about him? He must have kept a diary, don't you think?

Sometimes when I read Jane Austen and other Victorian-era novels where the women are always saying, "No, I cannot play tennis right now; I have some letters I must write," it occurs to me that they were just as absorbed with gossip and communication as we are today with the Internet and email.

When I think of how patient I was around 1967, corresponding with my British penpal and waiting two weeks for a reply, I amaze myself.

message 5: by Sarah (last edited Jan 30, 2017 04:18AM) (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
The more I read about Thoby, the more enigmatic I find him. According to King, his relationship with his father was strained - he seems to have had an emotional vulnerability Leslie thought unseemly in a man; and Thoby wanted to become a writer but Leslie (a writer!) discouraged him from pursuing such an "unmanly" profession. He seems to have been universally adored. And I had forgotten he started the Thursday reading club in Bloomsbury before Vanessa started the Friday club.

You're right, that's the rub - the Bell children didn't know him and so didn't write about him. There must be material floating around - at least enough to write a pamphlet, if someone hasn't already done it. Next time I get a pass to use an academic journal search engine, I'll see if I can't turn over any articles on him... ACTUALLY. I think I know someone who can help me... *shuffles off, papers flying*

Addendum: I haven't turned up anything biographical, only thematic. Wouldn't it be nice to be paid to sit around all day and write articles about Bloomsbury? Alas...

message 6: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments Well, all you have to do is identify your reading population and then identify the advertisers they would be interested in. Simple!

Every time someone clicks, you get a kickback. That is how all these Internet companies make their money. Can you say "Goo-gle"? :)

In fact, isn't that the whole premise upon which Amazon purchased

Or I suppose you could put out a GoFundMe solicitation to endow yourself as a Bloomsbury scholar. For that matter, perhaps that will be next available feature on Goodreads--an area where one can put oneself up for sponsorship.

Sorry. Must have made the coffee too weak this morning and am compensating with my imagination.

message 7: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments I could not find the James King biography of Woolf listed on Goodreads, but I found it in the Open Library (ebook) in the Internet Archive! Such an excellent site. I still use it, even though now I live in a civilized area with public transportation AND I own a perfectly good car. Some things change but some things don't!

message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
If I thought I had enough material to pursue a substantial thesis, I would go for one of those one year non-degree seeking grants. I've been told they're actually not very hard to get. I've known a couple older people who studied overseas for a year on a grant. The simple truth is I will never be able to afford graduate school.

I'm lukewarm on the King biography. But I can't tell if it's the subject or the author who is putting me off... I don't think I'm going to pan it, I just don't think it's a very clearly reasoned or written bio and it is incredibly presumptious and psychoanalytical in a way that makes me distrustful and uncomfortable.

I hope you have a nice weekend in your new home. It's going to be in the upper 70s here :) Going for a walk.

message 9: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments Sarah,

You are so well read, passionate about your subject, and just so darn SMART that I truly do believe that if you identify what your goal is (writing a book, earning a degree, going on a speaking tour, whatever)--and you identify possibly funding sources (even GoFundMe, but more likely Ford Foundation or Bill Gates or that Bunting grant for women) you could secure the funding you need and the world would be the richer for it.

As Alix Dobkin, the Godmother of the Michigan Womyn's Festival, use to say frequently, "There's no payoff in being a pessimist." :)

message 10: by Joe (last edited Feb 19, 2017 04:59PM) (new)

Joe | 475 comments Mod
Agree Silvo111 ,Sarah is brilliant , time to get the pen and ink out Sarah Bynum !

message 11: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments You know, I always used to think wistfully about those writers' colony grants where they put you up for a month in some charming rural area (usually in New England in the middle of winter where you have to chop your own wood), and in the company of other brilliant creative minds.

The problem is, they put you up and feed you and maybe even pay for a plane ticket to get there, but they don't pay your rent while you are there, so it is probably gnawing at the back of your mind the whole time you are supposed to be serenely being creative.

I still believe that every problem has a solution if it is approached with detachment and hopefulness. I've just never been able to tear myself away from my daily obligations long enough to focus. That's my excuse, anyway.

Now that I am "retired" (but still working full time freelance), I do take walks along the Tampa Bay and watch the herons and the ibises and the big fish jumping out of the water and the occasional dolphin and pelican, and I tell myself that this is improving the state of my psyche and soon I will be solving all my logistical challenges.

message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
Silvio & Joe: That was a very laudable attempt to prop up my non-existent self-esteem, thank you. I hope I do gain the confidence and energy to make a profession of research writing, I'll draft you both in for toasting eccles cakes and setting type and then you'll be REALLY SORRY you ever said anything to encourage me ^_^

Silvio, it's the same with me. Daily obligations impede. Work, home, cook, clean, maybe answer a little correspondence (and I don't even have the added distraction of a facebook or twitter feed) and half an hour's reading and a cup of chamomile tea before bed and that's it. Day gone. Where's my room of my own, eh? Better yet, where's my cook??

I am very pleased to hear of your Tampa Bay walks. What joy!

message 13: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments Well, I don't know what an eccles cake is, but I'd be happy to toast it for you. I am not sure printing facilities set type, do they? Isn't it all digital now? But if there is type to be set, I will be happy to do that too.

I compulsively read the "Thank you" pages in every book I read. I never recognize any of the names, but I am always astounded at how many people it took for one author to write one book. So as Obama said to the Great Titans of Industry, "You didn't build that all by yourself." (And they got so offended! Don't they read the thank you pages in books? Maybe not.)

So any of us who feel frustrated because we don't achieve what we wish we could, just have not assembled a large enough support system. These writers thank people in other countries for putting them up (presumably for free) while they accessed libraries in London and Paris and Munich and who knows where else. They thank the descendents of the figure whose biography they are writing for lending them private letters. (Can you imagine asking Angelica to let you borrow all her aunt's private letters? Or maybe even a few from Leonard?)

So I think we all need to sit around with other writers and hear the nitty gritty of the things they forced themselves to do to get the job done. This must be why they all thank their "writers' groups." (Those must be the people who toast the eccles cakes...)

In my case, I might make you a tofu burger (and a good one at that!)

Well, in the meantime if you do get a free day or two and you want to walk along Tampa Bay watching the pelicans (and I finally saw the Manatee yesterday; you can see him too)--PLEASE come and visit me. You will be very welcome. Then in the future you will be thanking me on the thank you page; wouldn't that be cool.


message 14: by Joe (new)

Joe | 475 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Silvio & Joe: That was a very laudable attempt to prop up my non-existent self-esteem, thank you. I hope I do gain the confidence and energy to make a profession of research writing, I'll draft you..."

Yep ..I will be happy to nibble on that cake if you provide a nice hot cup of chamomile mango tea with AND yes you can toss accolades upon me ... salute'

Silivo111 - Prine .. Love him

message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
I was being a bit silly about the typesetting. Eccles cakes are a sort of buttery blackcurrenty flakey pastry thing. There's a British store in Wilmington that sells the same ones I used to buy at tesco. A tray of eccles cakes is featured in the Hogarth Press layout drawing done by Richard Kennedy. I must remember to bring you some if we meet at C2C <-- Just made that up, isn't it hip?

What you say is very true about the communal contribution it requires to get practically anything done – even something as personal as a book. So, I like my eccles cakes lightly toasted, about five minutes :) Tofu burger sounds nice, too.

Thank you for the invitation! You are a most generous and gracious person. I think one of my great uncles lives near Tampa Bay. I should like to see a manatee, too – and a rare Silvio, which I hear there is only one in the entire world.

Joe: Chamomile and mango tea? Oooo... You will be paid in eccles cakes for your typesetting. It's a wholesome distraction and will keep you off the streets – the Camino, I mean.

message 16: by Silvio111 (last edited Feb 28, 2017 07:27AM) (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments C2C it is, then!

This Eccles cake sounds delicious! And toasted, too!
Some years back I was on a discussion board with a bunch of regulars and one Englishman referred to a "Moist Orange Cake," except he mispelled it as "Maoist Orange Cake," which made everybody go silly, but took his recipe (which he kindly supplied), and baked one!

It was interesting: instead of flour, it used almonds ground to a powder, and it required an "orange zester" which is a little tool that grates the peel off an orange. Oh, it was delicious.

So now I am thinking I must look up the recipe for the Eccles cake and see if I succeed. If I do, I could bring some samples to Charleston. (Joe, you are invited too.)

Regarding the rare Silvio, yes, from certain angles, I think I do resemble the Manatee a bit, although I can't hold my breath as long as they do, and to my knowledge, I am never in danger of being run over by an outboard motor. :)

message 17: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments


OH MY GOODNESS ! I am totally going to try and bake these. I will read the recipe every day for a week or two and then when I feel empowered, I will get the ingredients together and tackle them.

The pictures in the above link are mouth watering. This might actuallly give me the incentive to start drinking tea again! (I left my large white ceramic teapot up in the Poconos with my brother when I moved here to Florida, (trying to travel light; but you know I brought my various coffee pots, however.) This will give me an excuse to go to thrift stores in search of a new teapot! Caloo, Callay! How exciting.

I will update you on my progress with the recipe once there is more data to report.

message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
Haha, I am glad you are pleased. I should love to taste your eccles cakes or this moist orange cake - mm! A cheese grater makes for a good orange zester. I've never attempted eccles cakes due to the dearth of blackcurrants. Here is the best eccles cake I ever had, immortalised: I don't usually take pictures of my food but we'd walked from Hogarth House up Richmond Hill to a tea house/garden called Petersham Nurseries. Mid-meal, I drop my fork and stand up with my camera: "This sh*t's gotta live forever." The worst eccles cake I ever had was at a caf on North Gower Street (all raisins, cold and soggy). No photos since it was banished to the void of ignominy.

I drink tea at least 4 times a day. You don't drink tea?? You ought to see somebody about that: And pick yourself up a sturdy brown betty.

Oh dear, it seems I've again committed the common social faux pas of accidentally comparing a friend to a manatee! This wasn't my intention. Although manatees are very nice and I'd much rather be a manatee than myself – and I'm sure many people who know me wish the same.

Here is a poem I've found which forms the chorus to my lament about not being able write as much as I'd like due to the burdens of drudgery:


by Faith Shearin

In college I read about Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton
and I thought of their great minds and their long dresses
and their gilded friendships which involved tea

in the library or on the lawn. I thought of the places
they traveled and the weight of their trunks
and all the ways their marriages did or did not

please them. I thought of the dogs that followed
at their heels and the rooms and gardens they
decorated and the beaches where they

carried umbrellas. But I never once thought of
their servants. I didn’t think of the cook who
woke up to make the fires of morning or the maids

who stood over a pot of hot soap, stirring the day.
I did not think of how someone dressed them
and scrubbed their floors, how someone

brought their dinner on a tray. It was years before
I knew they had them at all: invisible, unremembered,
people who gave their lives to drudgery. Now I

can barely write or finish a book for all the housework
and errands, now I think of them: knocking dust
from the curtains, carrying the rugs outside

each spring so they could beat them with a broom.

message 19: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
Somewhat more random, I just started following this guy on flickr who has an enormous collection of photos and postcards of Edwardian beauties (he also has an album of Edwardian Cambridge men and other Edwardian collections). Looking at these feeds my imagination when I'm reading Bloomsbury books...

message 20: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments Oh my. Where to begin?
A) That eccles cake looks delicious. How could you bear to tear yourself away to take a picture?

B) I will definitely see someone for that if you will see someone for sending me that video of that LUNATIC! (No, actually, he was quite entertaining.)

C) That poem pretty much sums it up. But as a consolation, let me tell you that I tried to read LONGBOURN by Jo Baker, which is a pastiche of Jane Austen narrated by the servant girl. It was brilliant and to the point, but it was such a drag reading about all her duties, it took all the pleasure out of reading Jane Austen for me for quite a while and I am sure Virginia would agree with me.

I don't know why we are so surprised. I mean, we know Picasso was a real bastard but we still like his paintings. Of course, ever since I read (shortly after she won the Nobel) about how Toni Morrison rose at 4 AM each day to write for 3 hours before her young children woke up, I have truly been in awe, and somehow Viriginia's "Hour between lunch and tea when all seems possible" (or something like that) pales in comparison.

But hey. Art is theft. We all do what we can, when we can. As long as you still crave Eccles cakes, and cultivate that little spark of decadence, your creativity will endure.

On with the job.

message 21: by Sarah (last edited Mar 08, 2017 11:52AM) (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
>that video of that LUNATIC! (No, actually, he was quite

Don't laugh (well, if you must), but I discovered him at a steampunk convention in Kings Cross...

Longbourn sold like crazy at my store. I might take a running jump at it some day but you do make it sound tedious. I have enough drugdery in my own life without reading about someone else's. You know how us scrubs are often tempted to sit around enviously reading about Downton Abbey? Do you think the toffs at Downton Abbey are enviously reading about us? I somehow doubt it...

message 22: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments I am inclined to agree with you about Downton Abbey, although there is one exception. William Morris and his buddy, Edward Burne-Jones had a fetish about servant women. They used to go to one of the low-class pubs and scout them out. In fact, that is how Morris met his wife, Janey.

However, he elevated her to his artistic sensibility; I don't think they sat around the fireplace listening to her stories about scrubbing pots. Although you never know.

message 23: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
Indeed, they call it going for a "bit of rough" in UK parlance. Would we have any books by Charles Dickens were it not for this specific inclination? I wonder!

message 24: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 412 comments Charles Dickens liked the company of servant girls? I had no idea. Although if that was his idea of research, who am I to criticize?

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