Angela Carter

Crying ‘Woolf’ Too Often

The Widow and the Parrot

By Virginia Woolf

Chatto & Windus 32pp £7.95 order from our bookshop

According to a little note printed at the back of The Widow and the Parrot, Quentin Bell and his brother commissioned the piece from their Aunt Virginia for publication in the family newspaper the two young boys put together daily with the typically feverish intellectual energy of the Bloomsbury Child. ‘I know she was an author and … it seemed stupid to have a real author so close at hand and not have her contribute.’

Although her surviving nephews and nieces all confirm that Virginia Woolf was lots of fun, she played a mean trick on the lads. Instead of the expected squib (‘as funny, as subversive and as frivolous as Virginia’s conversation,’ which was what Quentin had hoped for), there arrived a ponderous piece of middlebrow camp, mercifully brief, designed, one feels to stop the boys asking such a thing of her ever again.

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