Behind the Scenes of Virginia Woolf’s First Self-Published Story
From The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
Virginia Woolf has long been celebrated as a supremely gifted novelist and essayist. Less well known, but important to understanding her life and contributions to literature, are her efforts as a publisher. In the decades that she and her husband operated the Hogarth Press—starting with a hand-operated printer they ran on their dining room table, cranking out one page at a time—they published some Modernist classics, including works by Virginia and The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the decision to buy the press, the effect it had on Virginia’s life and writing career, and the very first book the Woolfs put out: Two Stories, featuring Leonard’s short story “Three Jews” and Virginia’s “The Mark on the Wall.”