Virginia Woolf, Virginia Richards & Noel Richards, 1938.
Noel Olivier Richards was a longtime friend of VW. James Strachey, as well as Adrian Stephen, VW’s younger brother, had been in love with her. She’s now best known for her relationship with Rupert Brooke.
Her third child, Virginia, was VW’s goddaughter.
“Talking to Lytton the other night he suddenly asked me to advise him in love - whether to go on, over the precipice, or stop short at the top. Stop, stop! I cried, thinking instantly of you. Now what would happen if I let myself go over? Answer me that. Over what? you’ll say. A precipice marked V.”
Virginia Woolf to Vita Sackville-West, March 23rd 1927
“The petals are harlequins.”
“I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this —But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it.”
“When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke round me I am in darkness—I am nothing.”
“Here are my resolutions for the next 3 months; the next lap of the year.
To have none. Not to be tied.
To be free & kindly with myself, not goading it to parties: to sit rather privately reading in the studio.
To make a good job of The Waves.
To stop irritation by the assurance that nothing is worth irritation [referring to Nelly].
Sometimes to read, sometimes not to read.
To go out yes—but stay at home in spite of being asked.
As for clothes, to buy good ones.”