As part of London's power women running tour, we visit one of the 20th century's most important and trailblazing authors, Virginia Woolf.
A key member of the Bloomsbury group of intellectuals, Woolf was author of many extraordinarily influential texts.
One such text is 'Orlando', described by Nigel Nicolson as 'one of the most charming love letters in literature'. Orlando is based on, and dedicated to, Woolfe’s lesbian lover – writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West, with whom Woolf began a love affair with in 1922. This was a time when homosexuality was an offence for men, and largely ignored for women.
Orlando is described by the back cover blurb as “Both a clever, ornate conceit and powerful, satirical manifesto against male privilege, 'Orlando' remains utterly unique in twentieth-century literature.”
Woolf herself called ‘Orlando’ a ‘writer's holiday', in which she tosses Vita 'from on sex to another, dresses her in furs, lace and emeralds, and ends by photographing her in the mud at Long Barn, with dogs, awaiting Virginia's arrival next day'.
Having had a number of close relationships with women, Woolf is a key figure in the history of LBGT literature. She sits tucked away in a peaceful corner of Tavistock Square in Bloomsbury. We think she’d have liked it there.
And speaking of Orlando and LGBT, we think the Gay and trans symbols replacing the green men on lots of the traffic light pedestrian crossings around the city for Pride in London festival are great, and wholeheartedly agree with Sadiq Khan: 'These new signals show we stand shoulder to shoulder with Orlando,' He is of course referring to the horrible recent shootings in Orlando; not Woolf's fictional character.
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