Leonard and Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press and the Networks of Modernism

Leonard and Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press and the Networks of Modernism

Leonard and Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press and the Networks of Modernism

Leonard and Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press and the Networks of Modernism


This multi-authored volume, newly available in paperback, focuses on Leonard and Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press (1917-1941). Scholars from the UK and the US use previously unpublished archival materials and new methodological frameworks to explore the relationships forged by the Woolfs via the Press and to gauge the impact of their editorial choices on writing and culture. Combining literary criticism, book history, biography and sociology, the chapters weave together the stories of the lesser known authors, artists and press workers with the canonical names linked to the press following a 'rich, dialogic' forum or network.

The book brings together a wide range of thematic material in three sections - 'Class and Culture', 'Global Bloomsbury' and 'Marketing Other Modernisms'. Topics addressed in the book include imperialism, the middlebrow, religion, translation, the marketplace and poetry, with case studies on West Indian writer C.L.R. James, Welsh poet Huw Menai, child poet Joan Easdale and American artist E. McKnight Kauffer. This original collection will contribute to three vibrant sub-fields now remaking twentieth-century scholarship: print culture, modernist studies, and Woolf studies.

Key features:• A significant intervention in current debates on theorising and contextualising modernism
• Presents neglected writers for fresh study by drawing on established Hogarth Press and author-specific archives
• Provides a new view of the Woolfs' achievements as publishers
• Sets the agenda for further scholarship in advance of the centenary of the founding of the Press in 2017


Helen Southworth

In 1922 Leonard and Virginia Woolf considered selling, or seeking a partner for, their five-year-old Hogarth Press. One of the challenges the Woolfs faced was finding the right person to take on what Leonard Woolf describes as their ‘commercial hippogriff’, as ‘[the] very curious type of business we were trying to create’ (Downhill All the Way 79, 78). Although professionalisation seemed inevitable, the Woolfs wanted to retain an element of amateurism, an openness and a non-exclusive quality, that they felt might be lost if they ceded control. Leonard writes ‘[w]e felt to these writers and their books the responsibility of the commercial publisher to the author’ (78). Like the wizard in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, coincidentally an intertext for one of the most successful of the Hogarth Press’ publications, Virginia Woolf’s own Orlando (1928), the Woolfs ultimately decided to keep hold of the reins and to cultivate what remained their hybrid Press or hippogriff.

The essays that comprise Leonard and Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press and the Networks of Modernism track the Woolfs’ Press from its beginnings as a hobby in 1917 through its transformation into a commercial enterprise, still in operation at Virginia Woolf’s death in 1941. In its infancy the Press relied on hand printing, mostly fiction penned by friends and family. The mature operation produced high-quality, professionally printed books on topics ranging from politics to art to science. The essays in this volume reassess the Woolfs’ contributions to twentieth-century literary and artistic culture and to modernism. They investigate the networks of ideas, people and institutions of some of the more than 450 works and their authors that the Woolfs published over a twenty-four-year period, and the nexus of professional relationships that the Press generated.

Existing studies of Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s coteries and associations have focused mainly on the Bloomsbury Group, albeit in some very interesting ways. Jennifer Wicke, for example, looks at the . . .

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