Virginia and Leonard. It feels so natural to call them by their first names. I have read Viginia´s books for years and years, I have had Virginia´s diary, published by Leonard after her deat on my night stand for months and on our coffee table we have the garden book, the story of the garden at Monk´s House. It had been kind of real to me for years, though when I finally came to Monk´s House a couple of weeks ago, it was all completely different.
Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard found Monk House in 1919. Siyuated in a tiny little Village, Rodmell, not far from Lewes in East Sussex, it was the perfect weekend home for them. "That will be our address for ever and ever" Virginia wrote after they aquired the house at an auction.
Virginia Woolf´s books have followed me almost all my reading life. I have struggled with her books and struggle often leads to love. I have known a little about Virginia´s life, like the fact that she commited suicide by drowing, but for years I did not know much more than than. Then, some years ago I started to read about her more seriously and last year I was lucky to visit an excition about her life at The National Gallery in London. Since then I have dreamed abour visiting Monk´s House.
Two weeks ago my dream came true. After having tea with Deborah in her garden and studio, Fran and I drove over to Rodmell. Had lunch in the village pub, and then headed down to Monk´s House, today a National Trust site.
Walking through the house was quite emotional. Here is where Virginia and Leonard spent so much of their lives. Where they entertained, where Leonard listened to classical music on the Wireless, where Virginia wrote her letters, and her books.
Where Virginia had her bedroom with the beautiful view out to the garden, and the little village church. Thoufg they were no church goers, they loved the church.
I had brought Virginia´s diary with me, and on the train from Victoria down to Lewes I read:
Saturday March 27th 1937........As for the beauty, as I always say when I walk the terrace after breakfast, too much for one pair of eyes. Enough to float a whole population in happiness, if only they would look.Curiously a combination, this garden, with the church, and the cross of the church black against Asheham Hill. That is all the elements of the English brought together accidentally.
Being in all this beauty, after reading so much about it, after reading Virginia´s books for such a long time, felt almost unreal. Hard to take in.
It was real though, and in between flowers, roses, shrubs, trees, I could still meet Virginia. And Leonard, from the years he lived on after Virginia´s death.
Autumn had come to the garden when we were there. Just like autumn and a too early winter came to Virginia´s life.
Last year Fran and I visited Charleston, where Virginia´s sister Vanessa lived.
Next time we hope to walk the Downs between Charleston and Monk House.
Oh, I love dreams.