34 Handwritten: October 28, 1929

Woolf Studies Annual, Annual 2006 | Go to article overview

34 Handwritten: October 28, 1929


Girton College

Cambridge.

Oct 28th 1929.

Dear Mrs Woolf.

As I am the Secretary of the Odtaa Club at Girton & had the pleasure of hearing the paper you read to us, I am writing to thank you for sending a presentation copy of your book. I shall value it very much, chiefly because in it you have expressed far better than anyone else could, the subtle atmosphere of discouragement which prevents so many intelligent women from ever plunging wholeheartedly into artistic work. This sounds most prosaic as I have put it, but if I stop to think of elegant phraseology I shall never be able to express it at all. You can see that I come hot from reading your book, & feel so encouraged by it that I have dared to do what I have considered to be characteristic of American journalists--write to the author about it. You will I am sure receive plenty of congratulations from "those in authority" (to use a Cambridge phrase), and I don't expect this letter will be required to dispell any doubts you might have as to the reception your book will have; but I might as well write & tell you the effect it has had upon me personally. You noticed at once the sort of differences which exist in Cambridge between the men's & the women's Colleges, & there is no need to mention how strong is the disdain for women up here. As a matter of fact it doesn't upset me so much now as it used to, since I have quite a number of male friends & don't live in College any more, where the feeling of inferiority is intensified by the fact of everybody labouring under it. But at a Debate between Girton & King's yesterday, I was quite ashamed of myself for wincing under the cheap insults made against the female race in general & us in particular. The worst of this attitude to Girton is that it either depresses us extremely & takes away the spontaneity of our work, or else it makes us turn our thoughts to lighter things entirely,--such as looking after our figures & clothes & attractiveness--and so justify the superior young Dons in disparaging the quality of our brains. …

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34 Handwritten: October 28, 1929
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