52 Tavistock Sqre [W.C.I]

Tuesday, January 26th, 1926

Your letter from Trieste came this morning—But why do you think I don't feel, or that I make phrases? "Lovely 
phrases" you say which rob things of reality. Just the opposite. Always, always, always I try to say what I 
feel. Will you then believe that after you went last Tuesday—exactly a week ago—out I went into the slums 
of Bloomsbury, to find a barrel organ. But it did not make me cheerful. Also I bought the Daily Mail—but the 
picture is not very helpful. And ever since, nothing important has happened—Somehow its dull and damp. I have 
been dull; I have missed you. I do miss you. I shall miss you. And if you don't believe it, your a longeared owl 
and ass. Lovely phrases?

You were sitting on the floor this time last week, where Grizzle is now. Somehow, as you get further 
away, I become less able to visualize you; and think of you with backgrounds of camels and pyramids which 
make me a little shy. Then you will be on board ship: Captains and gold lace: portholes, planks—Then Bombay 
where I must have had many cousins and uncles. Then Gertrude Bell—Baghdad. But we'll leave that, and 
concentrate upon the present. What have I done? Imagine a poor wretch sent back to school. I have been very 
industrious, no oranges picked off the top of a Christmas tree; no glittering bulbs. For one thing, you must have 
disorganised my domesticity, so that directly you went, a torrent of duties discharged themselves on top of me: 
you cant think how many mattresses and blankets new sheets pillowcases, petticoats and dustpans I haven't had 
to buy. People say one can run out to Heals and buy a mattress: I tell you it ruins a day; 2 days: 3 days—Every 
time I get inside a shop all the dust in my soul rises, and how can I write next day? Moreover, somehow my 
incompetence, and shopkeepers not believing in me, harasses me into a nagging harpy. At last, at last,—but why 
should I go through it again? I sold 4 mattresses for 16 shillings; and have written I think 20 pages. To tell you 
the truth, I have been very excited, writing. I have never written so fast [To the Lighthouse]. Give me no illness 
for a year, 2 years, and I would write 3 novels straight off. It may be illusion, but (here I am rung up: Grizzle 
barks: settles in again—it is a soft blue evening and the lights are being lit in Southampton Row: I may tell you 
that when I saw crocuses in the Sqre yesterday, I thought May: Vita.) What was I saying? Oh only that I think I 
can write now, never before—an illusion which attends me always for 50 pages. But its true I write quick—all 
in a splash; then feel, thank God, thats over. But one thing—I will not let you make me such an egoist. After all, 
why don't we talk about your writing? Why always mine, mine, mine? For this reason, I expect—that after all 
you're abundant in so many ways, and I a mere pea tied to a stick.

(Do you see how closely I am writing? That is because I want to say a great many things, yet not to 
bore you, and I think, if I write very close, Vita won't see how long this letter is, and she won't be bored) Have 
I seen anyone? Yes, a great many people, but by way of business mostly—Oh the grind of the Press has been 
rather roaring in my ears. So many manuscripts to read, poems to set up, and letters to write, and Doris Daglish 
to tea—A poor little shifty shabby shuffling housemaid, who ate a hunk of cake, and had the incredible defiance 
and self confidence which is partly lack of Education; partly what she thinks genius, and I a very respectable
vivacious vulgar brain. "But Mrs Woolf, what I want to ask you is—have I in your opinion enough talent to 
devote my life entirely to literature?" Then it comes out she has an invalid father to keep, and not a halfpenny 
in the world. Leonard, after an hour of this, advised her, in his most decided voice, to become a Cook. That set 
her off upon genius and fiction and hope and ambition and sending novels to Tom Eliot and so—and so. Off 
she went, to Wandsworth; and we are to read her essay on Pope. Raymond I've seen: Clive and Mary. Siegfried 
Sassoon, Dadie and my French widow [Gwen Raverat].

Now Vita's getting bored in Bombay; but its a bald prosaic place, full of apes and rocks, I think: please 
tell me; you cant think how, being a clever woman, as we admit, I make every fragment you tell me bloom and 
blossom in my mind.

As for the people I've seen, I've fallen in love with none—but thats not exactly my line. Did you guess 
that? I'm not cold; not a humbug; not weakly; not sentimental. What I am; I want you to tell me. Write, dearest 
Vita, the letters you make up in the train. I will answer everything.

I'm going to have a little dramatic society—I mean a flashy actress came to see me, who having had 
her heart blighted, completely, entirely, irretrievably, has most unexpectedly got work, and says will I come 
and see her behind the scenes—I like the astonishing profusion of these poor creatures—all painted, glittering 
and unreal; with the minds of penny whistles; all desperate, what with being out of work, or in love: some have 
illegitimate children; one died on Sunday, and another is ill with typhoid. They think me a grotesque, semi-
human gargoyle; screwed up like a devil in a Cathedral; and then we have tea, in some horrid purlieus of Soho, 
and they think this frightfully exciting—my unscrewing my legs and talking like a book. But it won't do for long. 
Its a snobbery of mine to adorn every society except my own.

Now I must finish, for I have to do my lecture for the school at Hayes Common on Saturday. Mary 
offers to lend me her motor: but no; I wont. I want Vita's motor; I want to be nicely treated by her; and I shant 

Couldn't you write me lots more letters and post them at odd stations as you pass through?

But of course (to return to your letter) I always knew about your standoffishness. Only I said to myself, 
I insist upon kindness. With this aim in view, I came to Long Barn. Open the top button of your jersey and you 
will see, nestling inside, a lively squirrel, with the most inquisitive habits, but a dear creature all the same—

Your Virginia

Are you perfectly well? Tell me.