Virginia Woolf

New Friends

Summary New Friends

In 1904, Woolf sent an article she'd written about Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire, the Bronte sisters' family home, to a London weekly called The Guardian. The editor accepted it happily and from that point on, Woolf was a regular contributor. She was happy to have found an outlet for her early works of journalism. She was soon regularly employed to write reviews as well as articles. In the meantime, the Stephen children had comfortably settled in their new home at forty-six Gordon Square in Bloomsbury. Family relatives, including the Duckworth half-siblings, had been shocked by the Stephens' decision to move into Bloomsbury, which was certainly a step down from the posh Kensington neighborhood in which they'd grown up. But Vanessa, Woolf, Thoby and Adrian felt stifled by the stiff Victorian social code that they'd suffered their entire lives. The move into Bloomsbury was a break from social shackles, in many ways. Thoby began to invite his Cambridge buddies to the house, and instituted Thursday evening get togethers. Clive Bell, Sydney Saxon-Turner, Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Desmond MacCarthy and John Maynard Keyes-a veritable laundry list of the most influential painters, writers and thinkers of the next thirty years-converged on forty-six Gordon Square. Woolf and Vanessa sat in on the gatherings and were slightly awed by Thoby's friends.

The men were initially extremely reserved, often sitting in chairs silently for hours. They were cerebral, and they expected the same of Woolf and Vanessa. It was a welcome change from the social expectation that women simply marry and master social skills. Thoby's friends respected Woolf and Vanessa's great intelligence and talent and expected them to make something of it. While the circle-christened the Bloomsbury Group-grew closer and more intense, those outside of it grew jealous and judgmental. Many of Woolf's non-Bloomsbury friends were not impressed with Thoby's friends. They found them untidy and impolite. Even more shocking was the fact that Woolf and Vanessa were staying up until all hours conversing with them and swapping philosophies and ideas. For young, unmarried women, this was unacceptable social behavior at the time.

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