Louise Guinness

Home and Away

Travels with Virginia Woolf

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Nobody was ever less of a travel writer than Virginia Woolf,’ Jan Morris writes in her introduction to Travels with Virginia Woolf. ‘She was really unbreakably loyal to England’, she dreaded becoming ‘that perennially grim figure – the travel bore’ and her distaste for going about among ‘ordinary people’ at times amounted to an almost Swiftian misanthropy. Woolfs travel writing seems, therefore, a quirky choice of raw material to form the substance of a travel book. But Jan Morris has carried out her task thoroughly, gathering together everything Virginia Woolf ever wrote about places in her diaries and letters and a few travel essays, arranging the writings chronologically and then doggedly following in her footsteps, tracking down guesthouses and pensiones, churches and views, and adding her own comments and impressions.

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