Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf ‘The Symbol’ has not appeared in print before. The typescript of the story, originally called ‘Inconclusions’, is dated 1941; together with a tale whose title was changed from ‘The Ladies’ Lavatory’ to ‘The Watering Place’, it seems to have been among the last stories she wrote. Both of these stories appear in Susan Dick’s The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf, which contains 17 previously unpublished pieces and will be published by Chatto in the autumn at £14.95.

Story: ‘The Symbol’

Virginia Woolf, 20 June 1985

There was a little dent on the top of the mountain like a crater on the moon. It was filled with snow, iridescent like a pigeon’s breast, or dead white. There was a scurry of dry particles now and again, covering nothing. It was too high for breathing flesh or fur-covered life. All the same the snow was iridescent one moment; and blood red; and pure white, according to the day.

In the spring of 1877 T.M. Greenhow, a retired surgeon, published an article in the British Medical Journal on the case of Harriet Martineau, who had died in her house in Ambleside the previous...

Read More

In the 1960s we used to sing a music-hall song in the pub whose rousing refrain began, ‘Two lovely black eyes – Oh, what a surprise!’ and went on: ‘Only for tellin’...

Read More

Among the Antimacassars

Alison Light, 11 November 1999

According to Baudelaire, fervent lovers and austere scholars have one thing in common, especially in their riper years. They share a love of household cats, who, like them, are...

Read More

Georgie came, Harry went

Frank Kermode, 25 April 1991

Seven journal-notebooks from Virginia Woolf’s early years, six in the Berg Collection of New York Public Library and one in the British Library, are here reprinted without omissions. The...

Read More

What about the aeroplanes?

Gillian Beer, 23 April 1987

‘If one spirit animates the whole, what about the aeroplanes?’ queries a character in Virginia Woolf’s last novel, Between the Acts. Both Alex Zwerdling in Virginia Woolf and...

Read More


John Bayley, 6 September 1984

To read Virginia Woolf when young is, or was, to have the feeling of entering a new world, to realise with sudden ecstasy that this was true being, where words and consciousness and the solitary...

Read More

Trained to silence

John Mepham, 20 November 1980

Having read some of Henry Brewster’s letters to Ethel Smyth, Virginia Woolf wrote to Ethel that she found them ‘very witty, easy, well written, full of sparks and faces and...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences