Flickerings of an Innermost Flame




In a 1917 letter to a family friend, Virginia Woolf announced a new endeavor with her husband, Leonard: “We have bought our Press! We don’t know how to work it, but now I must find some young novelists or poets. Do you know any?”

In short time, the Woolfs succeeded in both working the apparatus and finding an extraordinary cadre of emerging writers to publish. Set up in their dining room at Hogarth House, their home in the London suburbs, the new hand-press ushered into the world the works of T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Katherine Mansfield (whom Virginia regarded as a rival), Vita Sackville-West (who would become Virginia’s lover), and Sigmund Freud, as well as the groundbreaking novels, essays, biographies, and memoirs of Virginia Woolf herself.

The idea to start a press may have sprung from Leonard’s wish to occupy Virginia with a hobby to keep her from bouts of melancholy–she had by then suffered at least two nervous breakdowns following the deaths of her parents. Upon purchasing the press for the price of £19, however, Leonard and Virginia both took to the printing business with a passion.  [Continued on the Ploughshares blog ]