A. M. A. “‘Tis Woman’s Whole Existence.” The Liverpool Post and Mercury. May 11, 1927, p.4.

‘Tis Woman’s Whole 

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE. By Virginia Woolf.
London: The Hogarth Press. 7s 6d net.

Mrs. Ramsay’s life-history was simple.
She was beautiful—in youth exceptionally
beautiful. She married a Professor
of Philosophy. They were poor, they
had eight children. But they kept open
house, and in the summer the family
used to go North—a shabby old barn of a 
house by the sea, racked to pieces by
the eight children and the even more
numerous visitors. Mrs. Ramsay kept
everything going; she was the perfect 
wife, the perfect mother, the perfect
hostess. Then in her fiftieth year she
died rather suddenly. The house stood
empty for ten summers. To it, at last,
came the widower, his children, his 
visitors, with their memoirs, desolate,
sentimental, selfish, or merely faded.

Unless one knows Virginia Woolf’s
delicate, baffling method of story-telling
it is difficult to suggest what she makes
of her theme, or why it should seem in
her hands so richly satisfying a rendering
of human life. She paints her subject
in vivid detail, turns it this way 
and that, explores its very heart and 
mind, so that you hear the heart beat
and the brain work. “Do you want to
know,” she asks us, “the thoughts
and feelings of a beautiful woman who
has dedicated her life and her beauty to
the cherishing of a husband, the rearing
of a family, the creation of a home?”
This is the accepted vocation of women,
but do women ever get enough out of it
to balance all they put into it? What are 
the secret dreams and rebel thoughts of
the inner being behind the beautiful and
beneficent presence of the domestic

Virginia Woolf is too ardent a feminist
to accept the conventional assurance 
that a life lived for others is the best and 
happiest life. In exploring the secrets
of Mrs. Ramsay’s soul, she comes to an
inner chamber where the wife, the 
mother, the friend with the match-
making instinct who is always throwing
her visitors together, the creature of
convention and habit never enters. In 
that chamber is a shrine to the 
relinquished dreams of Mrs. Ramsay’s
beautiful long-vanished youth—all that
she might have been and was not—as 
big a sum though unreckoned as that
often-computed total of her husband’s,
with its heavy item of genius submerged
in domesticity. Over this question of the
value of Mrs. Ramsay’s life, and of life
itself, flickers the novelist’s mournful
and sagacious fancy. Mrs. Ramsay had 
been the rock on which her family rested
in security. A little gap of time and the 
drift of life had made good her loss.
Everyone was perfectly resigned, and
poor Mr. Ramsay was really quite happy
in the role of elderly widower in need of
feminine sympathy. A. M. A.