Monks House, Rodmell
Sunday—22nd May 1927


I was so pleased and excited by your letter that I trotted about all day like a puppy with a bone. In 
fact you entirely destroyed my powers of work: I was always taking it out and reading it again, until I thought 
perhaps I exaggerated, and ran off to Leonard with it to ask him if he thought you really meant it. Taking 
into account your well known character, he decided, finally, that you probably did. So then I settled down to 
complete satisfaction, which no one else's letters have given me—(here's one that may recall the character of 
Dora Sanger to you—I dont want it back)

But what do you think I did know about mother? It can't have been much—What would Quentin have 
known of you if you had died when he was 13? I suppose one broods over some germ; but I specially refrained 
either from reading her letters, or father's life. He was easier to do, but I was very much afraid you would think 
me sentimental. I seem to make people think that the Stephen family was one of insane gloom. I thought it was a 
cheerful enough book. I don't defend my accuracy, though I think Watts used to buy lapis lazuli, break it up with 
a small hammer, and keep it under damp cloths. I think, too, the pre-raphaelites thought it more like nature to use 
garden clay, whenever possible; to serve for colours. Lord Olivier writes that my horticulture and natural history 
is in every instance wrong: there are no rooks, elms, or dahlias in the Hebrides; my sparrows are wrong; so are 
my carnations: and it is impossible for women to die of childbirth in the 3rd month—He infers that Prue had had 
a slip (which is common in the Hebrides) and was 9 months gone. This is the sort of thing that painters know 
nothing of.

If we weren't down here for Sunday, I should be seeing Clive: and so might throw light upon the 
mystery. The position seems odd: he has Mary there; seems in good spirits with her; and then goes about (this is 
from Eddy) saying that he is wretched; twitching; complaining; maundering on about life being over, and his 
bolt being shot, as he did before he went away. I think the truth must be that he's back again where he was, with 
Mary; she exacerbating and exasperating him; and he now without any prospect of escape. I'm lunching with 
him on Tuesday, but shan't see him alone. I think he wants, not exactly to confide, but to talk round and about 
himself. You'll be back though. Now, Dolphin, you've got to face it and do it. People feel very strongly about 
you and Duncan—Whats life without those prime jewels of our coronet, people say—the most unlikely people 
are moved to a bastard kind of poetry on this occasion; people who have never spoken save plain prose before; 
people like Arthur Waley, Ray Strachey, and Lisa Stillman—A voice on the telephone plunged me into the 
wildest memories—of St Ives—Gerald —the trapeze on the landing—yesterday. "I am trying to find Cameron 
photographs of Mama—Can you lend me any negatives?.... I should so much like to see you and Nessa again ... 
Oh in France is she? Vanessa's always in France! I shall try again in a few weeks time." Then the whole 
apparition, which was of the utmost vividness, vanished. But as I was saying, you must face life again. Whats 
the use of flowering in a nettle bed t'other side of Europe? Ottoline impends; but she never fades—She's still at 
Garsington; Philip sits in the Nation chucking Mrs Jones on the chin, and Leonard comes in to find "P.M" 
[Philip Morrell] marked on all the best books. "Uncle Philip would like these, please, Mr Woolf" says Mrs Jones 
archly. Leonard says nothing. He says, going out, casually, "Mr Morrell may do a briefer notice of the Aztecs if 
he likes: but if he writes more than 50 words, I shall cut it." With the Morrells in London, this snuggling and 
chucking, to put it euphemistically, may increase; and not wanting a whole clutch of bastards, Ottoline may stay 

Then I went to Oxford to speak to the youth of both sexes on poetry and fiction. They are 
young; they are callow; they know nothing about either—They sit on the floor and ask innocent questions about 
Joyce—They are years behind the Cambridge young, it seemed to me; Quentin and Julian could knock them into 
mud pies. But they have their charm—There was a man called Martin (I think) an adorer and disciple of Roger's, 
who was the most intelligent. We went on to somebodies rooms, and there they sat on the floor, and said what a 
master they thought Roger Fry; and were Bell and Grant able to make a living by decorations; and was Tom 
Eliot happy with his wife. They're oddly under our thumb, at the moment—at least this particular group. Roger, 
the old wizard, has them all entranced—I pretended to a degree of intimacy which, alas, is not mine, to colour 
my cheeks for them. Clive, they said, was very good fun; but we always feel Roger Fry's the real mind. Then 
there was Vita, very striking; like a willow tree; so dashing, on her long white legs with a crimson bow; but 
rather awkward, forced indeed to take her stockings down and rub her legs with ointment at dinner, owing to 
midges—I like this in the aristocracy. I like the legs; I like the bites; I like the complete arrogance and unreality 
of their minds—for instance buying silk dressing gowns casually for £5 and then lunching off curd cream (a 
yellow mess) which she picked out of tartlet with a fork, dropping the pastry back into the dish; and then tipping 
porters a shilling for doing nothing; and then—the whole thing (I cant go into details) is very splendid and 
voluptuous and absurd. Also she has a heart of gold, and a mind which, if slow, works doggedly; and has its 
moments of lucidity—But enough—You will never succumb to the charms of any of your sex—What an arid 
garden the world must be for you! What avenues of stone pavements and iron railings! Greatly though I respect 
the male mind, and adore Duncan (but, thank God, he's hermaphrodite, androgynous, like all great artists) I 
cannot see that they have a glowworm's worth of charm about them—The scenery of the world takes no lustre 
from their presence. They add of course immensely to its dignity and safety: but when it comes to a little 
excitement—! (I see that you will attribute all this to your own charms in which I daresay you're not far wrong).

How many paintings shall I have? Monks House is in need of some. I think you'll have to come here for 
a week end—Well, I daresay you could get off with one night—before July. There are several problems waiting 
you: I have my own ideas, and my own taste, but its all ineradicably bad. The garden is this year a miracle of 
order. But that damned Allinson, in concert with Durrant, has changed a farmbuilding into a florid surrey villa in 
6 weeks. Marjories book twits us all, practically by name; and compares us with Jos [Wedgwood] and herself, 
much to our disadvantage. It has rather more merit than the others, but that is chiefly that she has taken over 
some modern tricks, and the interest of finding the Barley Mow, Fitzroy Street, and the Beanstalk in print keeps 
one going.

Both Dick and John Strachey have been drowned—according to Lottie. That is to say they stole the 
Stephen's boat which had a hole in it and sailed away and have never been heard of since. Lottie says they were 
washed out to sea. Nellie says they have gone to visit Johns, or Dicks, wife at Harwich. Adrian says nobodies 
heard anything for ten days but he doesn't see any particular reason for anxiety. I creep up and peer into the 
Stephen's dining room where any afternoon, in full daylight, is to be seen a woman in the last agony of despair, 
lying on a sofa, burying her face in the pillow, while Adrian broods over her like a vulture, analysing her soul—
It is exactly like a picture by John Collier. This is a very very long letter, I would have you observe.

Yr B.

If you could bring me back a few penny cigars such as one buys in Cassis I should be eternally grateful and, 
what is more, pay you: I got the habit of cigar smoking in Italy and can't break myself of it.