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13. From Memory to Fiction: An Essay in Genetic Criticism

© Hans Walter Gabler, CC BY 4.0

Relating to her life and her work, Virginia Woolf was characteristically her own recorder. For this, her diaries and letters are our prime sources. In astonishing simultaneity, one and the same diary entry which records her putting in place the final sentence for Mrs. Dalloway already opens the vision towards her next novel. (D 2, 316–17). For many months, nonetheless, she contented herself with concentrated thinking towards it. ‘I’ve written 6 little stories […] & have thought out, perhaps too clearly, To the Lighthouse.’ (D 3, 29). On 20 July 1925, she has still not weighed anchor, ‘having a superstitious wish to begin To the Lighthouse the first day at Monks House.’ (D 3, 36)1 Unquestionably, so to hold back, even with a touch of superstition, indicates that, however passionately she desired to write this novel, she was yet haunted by the subject matter she was choosing for it. More than three years later, a date gives her occasion to confess as much. On 28 November 1928, she notes in her diary: ‘Father’s birthday. I used to think of him & mother daily; but writing The Lighthouse, laid them in my mind. […] (I believe this to be true—that I was obsessed by them both, unhealthily; & that writing of them was a necessary act.)’ (D 3, 208) Anticipating that first day at Monks House, she is absurdly optimistic: ‘I now think I shall finish it in the two months there.’ (D 3, 36) She duly heads the draft manuscript with the date ‘August 6th’.2 Yet it was to be not two months, but close to two years later that To the Lighthouse was finally published on 5 May 1927, simultaneously in a British and an American first edition.3

Prior to writing To the Lighthouse, Woolf had recorded her thinking towards it in ‘Notes for Writing’. She envisaged the novel’s structure graphically in the shape of an ‘H’, a signifier to the shape in three sections that we know were ultimately titled ‘The Window’—‘Time Passes’—‘The Lighthouse’.4 The ‘H’s vertical strokes represent, respectively, the novel’s first narrative stretch through one day (which ends Mrs Ramsay’s presence in the novel) and its third stretch through the better part of another day (on which Mr Ramsay, James and Cam sail to the lighthouse and Lily Briscoe accomplishes her painting: ‘It was done; it was finished. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.’ [226]) ‘Time Passes’ forms a corridor (this is Woolf’s own term) between these two days, equivalent to the cross-stroke of the ‘H’. It connects the evening of the day of ‘The Window’ with the morning breaking on the day of ‘The Lighthouse’. It thus fills a stretch in time of just one night, but it does so only intermittently and with sparse symbolic detail. In fact, the narrative deploys a double time-scheme. ‘Time Passes’ drives the evening of the day of ‘The Window’ and the morning of the day of ‘The Lighthouse’ apart by ten years. They are cataclysmic years of deaths in the family and war in the world. The ten years are transformed into narrative structure by the division of the section into ten segments.

Thus, from the outset we observe a double impulse informing the invention and composition of To the Lighthouse: an intense autobiographical preoccupation, and an intricately abstracted structural design. The two impulses are only seemingly incommensurate. In fact, they circumscribe the essence of Virginia Woolf’s conception of the art of the novel: life telling, artfully designed into form. What is more: she perceived, as we have seen, that writing and forming To the Lighthouse allowed her, after years of suffering the oppressive presence of her parents in her daily thoughts, to ‘lay them in her mind’. But—auto-psychotherapeutics aside—just how is such laying accomplished artistically? How can, and in this specific case: how does fiction written against an autobiographic foil attain the autonomy of a work of art? We are fortunate to possess ample documentation of the two-year progress of writing that culminated in the first-edition publications of the novel. They provide significant clues to the processes of construction, transformation and variation underlying the conversion of memory into fiction.

Virginia Woolf was highly conscious of, and she firmly controlled, the structures of her writing. To the Lighthouse shows this prominently, and indicates as well that she wanted her craft recognised. She planted cues in the text. They are self-references to the novel within the novel. Take Lily Briscoe, the painter: she is generally seen as the author’s artist alter ego, and the painting she ultimately accomplishes is thus understood as the novel’s equivalent to itself, its own ‘objective correlative’, or better: its correlative object and signifying agent within the fiction’s strands of meaning. The narrative ends with Lily Briscoe’s ‘laying down her brush in extreme fatigue’. This gives a sense of an ending that very much articulates Virginia Woolf’s state of mind and body on finishing her novel—this one, or any of the fictions she wrote in her lifetime. The projection of the autobiographical literary author’s self onto a fictional character who practices to extreme fatigue the sister art of painting contributes essentially to establishing the autonomy of the fiction. To achieve her painting, Lily Briscoe (just before laying down her brush) ‘looked at her canvas; it was blurred. With a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre.’ (226) In other words, the fictional artist painter accentuates the center of her work with the same sense of rightness with which the real artist writer had even from the outset ‘drawn a line there’ to form as an ‘H’ the structural sketch for the novel-yet-to-be-written. The novel’s end thus confirms the rightness of making the two days of ‘The Window’ and ‘The Lighthouse’ interdependent across the ten years’ corridor of ‘Time Passes’. Interestingly, Virginia Woolf herself confesses at one time to her diary that her sense of how to end the novel was genuinely blurred, even as late as an estimated three weeks before finishing the drafting: ‘I had meant to end with R. climbing onto the rock. If so, what becomes [of] Lily & her picture?’ (D 3, 106) Her own second of clarity must have come with the decision to end not on the novel’s level of plot and character, but on its meta-level of self-reference to its own structure.

From the cue of the ‘line there, in the centre’, recurrences of symmetrical design can be traced. So for instance, just as the novel in its entirety is centered on its middle section ‘Time Passes’, so too is its last section ‘The Lighthouse’ pivoted on its middle segment, the seventh of thirteen.5 It is told from Lily Briscoe’s perspective: ‘[as] she looked at the bay beneath her […] she was roused […] by something incongruous. There was a brown spot in the middle of the bay. It was a boat. […] Mr. Ramsay’s boat […] The boat was now halfway across the bay.’ (197). Notably, the pivoting of the novel’s third section on a middle segment, with the boat in the middle of the bay, was devised early. In the draft, the ‘Lighthouse’ section as a whole extends as yet to only nine segments. Yet here, what is subsequently to become the seventh segment in the extended narrative is already part of the draft’s fifth: the boat is here, too, in the middle of the bay in the middle segment. The seventh segment in the finished book, subsequently, consists of a stretch of text simply cut off from the fifth through intercalation of a short narrative in parenthesis counterpointing briefly the action of the boat crossing the bay (cf. p. 196). Segments in parenthesis are Woolf’s well-known device of narrative structuring used widely in this novel and elsewhere.

Deeper insight into Woolf’s progressive shaping of the narrative composition may be derived from closer attention to the textual moment at which the cutting-off of the ‘Lighthouse’ section’s seventh segment was performed. Segment five ends with Lily Briscoe’s phantasy that if Mr Carmichael and she ‘shouted loud enough Mrs. Ramsay would return. “Mrs. Ramsay!” she said aloud, “Mrs. Ramsay!” The tears ran down her face.’ (195–96) Segment seven opens: ‘“Mrs. Ramsay!” Lily cried, “Mrs. Ramsay!” But nothing happened. The pain increased. That anguish could reduce one to such a pitch of imbecility, she thought!’ (196–97) Yet as the imbecility lessens, a vision unfolds

mysteriously, a sense of some one there, of Mrs. Ramsay, relieved for a moment of the weight that the world had put on her, staying lightly by her side and then (for this was Mrs. Ramsay in all her beauty) raising to her forehead a wreath of white flowers with which she went. Lily squeezed her tubes again. She attacked that problem of the hedge. It was strange how clearly she saw her, stepping with her usual quickness across fields among whose folds, purplish and soft, among whose flowers, hyacinths or lilies, she vanished. It was some trick of the painter’s eye.

It is thoroughly a painterly vision, ‘some trick of the painter’s eye’ indeed. Above all, it is uncompromisingly Lily Briscoe’s vision, wholly integral to the fiction To the Lighthouse. The seventh segment of the ‘Lighthouse’ section, so precisely delimited in shape, forms one compositional arc in the finished text. Distancing her strong emotion by self-ironic realism (‘Had she missed her among the coffee cups at breakfast? not in the least’), Lily frees her capacity to turn vision into painterly accomplishment. From sensing Mrs Ramsay at her side, she sees her vanish, ‘going unquestioningly with her companion, a shadow, across the fields.’ She understands her gain from the visions of Mrs Ramsay that have constantly come to her since Mrs Ramsay’s death. They set free her artist’s instinct and powers of transformation. ‘Now again, moved again by some instinctive need of distance and blue, she looked at the bay beneath her, making hillocks of the blue bars of the waves, and stony fields of the purple places.’ Transformatively, she turns the waters of the bay into landscape: the waves in their coloring that her eye perceives become hillocks and stony fields in her painting. And it is as she is so immersed in her art that she is ‘roused as usual by something incongruous’—she spots the boat in the middle of the bay. To appreciate fully the compositional quality of this text segment as accomplished for the published text requires seeing, first, that its narrative line is structured in terms of form and equally strongly of content; second, that it is grafted throughout onto the trajectory of Lily Briscoe’s painterly vision; and thirdly, that this vision comprises the imaginary in equality with the real. Virginia Woolf’s artistic achievement amounts to a most thorough distillation of memory and narrative progression into the autonomy of fiction.

* * *

As first drafted, the memory recorded often conveys the feel of personal memory. Yet as this is articulated in language it assumes the function of character memory. The achievement we believe we recognise is that the character memory in the course of the genetic development of the fiction’s text only gradually gets cleared of—gets distilled from—a sensitivity as yet private. This may be elucidated from Virginia Woolf’s handwritten draft for the novel. It is here more palpable than at any later stage of the novel’s pre-publication records that the literary, indeed the poetic richness of Woolf’s text arises from a double experience: a reliving of personal memories so intense that they distill into language; as well as an experience of how her powers of imagination enable her to enter into the narrative unfolding and to occupy the characters she is engaged in creating.

The concluding third or so of (now) segment 5 (from ‘Against her will she had come to the surface’ [193]) together with (now) segment 7 go back ultimately to draft pages 220–25, where they constitute one continuous stretch of text composition, even while recognizably written in five (or four?) day stints.6 Just one draft stretch must here suffice to specify how even from the first beginnings of the text Lily Briscoe senses the moment emotionally through every stirring particularity around her:

She looked at the drawing room steps […] They were empty. […] It came over her, […] powerfully, for the first time, […] some one was not sitting there. The frill of a chair in the room moved a little in the breeze. […] Like all strong feelings, the physical sensation […] was […] extremely unpleasant. To want & not to have, sent all up her body a starkness, a hollowness, a strain. […] how they hurt the mind how they wrung her heart, left it like the skin of an empty orange. And then to want & not to have—to want & want! Oh Mrs. Ramsay she called out silently, as if she could curse her for having gone & thus disturbed her painting & tormented her with this anguish. […] why should she have done it? Ghost, air, nothingness—{-for months Lily went without thinking of her now. Now it seemed as if Mrs. Ramsay had only been letting one run a little to suit her own purposes.-} She wanted one back. One came back. She was only that. […] Then suddenly she asserted herself again, & the empty drawing room steps & the frill moving & the puppy tumbling on the terrace all seemed […] like hollow {+curves & arabesques+} phantoms curvetting, spouting, […] {+infinite+} desirable: that had gone round complete emptiness.7

We approach such drafting with our memory of To the Lighthouse in book form. We recognise phrases, discern echoes of others, observe false starts, or indeed catch a thrill from still other phrasings revealing draft potential that in the event was never actualised as text. The draft writing may be felt to confirm something that the text we have read has already articulated. Encountering the draft conveys an experience both intellectual and aesthetic which is yet simultaneously an experience through ‘the emotions of the body,’ through ‘one’s body feeling, not one’s mind.’ (194) It may be that, to our amazement, the retracing of the processes of composition induces just such a bodily sensation in us. It allows us all the better in turn to sense how Virginia Woolf’s writing, so volatile in its unfolding, emerged from an immediacy of body feeling, even as at the same time it was progressively shaped with sure aesthetic sense, as well as mentally brought under the control of considerations of distancing and of structure. The energy released in the work of aesthetic and mental distancing is responsible as much for what ‘survives’ from the drafting into the text made public as it is for the decisions to weed out inventions of first composition that so fell by the wayside.

But how, in and from the first draftings, do we account for the ‘body feeling’ itself? There is no doubt that it is Lily Briscoe’s ‘emotions of the body’ that the writing strives to form, to compose as text for the fiction, to create as the fiction. But what are the sources from which the creation in language springs? The drafting reveals, as I wish to suggest, that Virginia Woolf the author to a significant degree writes from her own ‘emotions of the body’. To be sure, accomplished and controlled literary artist that she is, she imagines Lily Briscoe from the outset as a character—meta-fictionally considered the key character—for and of the novel. Yet so as to imagine her and endow her with the faculty of evoking her memories of Mrs Ramsay (whom to bring back and imaginatively revive is precisely Lily Briscoe’s function in the narrative), Virginia Woolf releases emotions of her body and her memory. This can be clearly sensed in the drafting. ‘She looked at the drawing room steps[.] They were empty. It came over her, powerfully, for the first time, some one was not sitting there. […] Like all strong feelings, the physical sensation was extremely unpleasant. To want & not to have, sent all up her body a starkness, a hollowness, a strain. […] And then to want & not to have—to want & want! Oh Mrs. Ramsay she called out silently, as if she could curse her for having gone & thus disturbed her painting & tormented her with this anguish.’ In the last sentence, replacing ‘painting’ by ‘writing’ and ‘Mrs. Ramsay’ by ‘Mother’ brings home that the anguished phrasing expresses a recurrent sense-of-self of Virginia Woolf’s own, in life and in the praxis of her art.

From thus experiencing the composition as it emerges we can perceive an all-important distinction. We recognise that the anguish evoked in the drafting arises essentially from the process of the writing. Not yet—not yet fully and autonomously—does it express and represent the anguish of the character. In the writing as it emerges, Virginia Woolf allows her visceral memories and emotions of the body to flow into language. It is then by her creative powers of art as author that the composition as composition in language becomes metamorphosed into fictional representation and narrative. Under the discipline of revision and continued composition beyond the first drafting, consequently, the emotions and memories verbalised lose their aura of being personal to Virginia Woolf. They become successively those of Lily Briscoe, so as to round her ultimately into the autonomous character she is in the fiction.

With Virginia Woolf, her processes of writing and continued revision carry over (typically) from draft to author’s typescript to printer’s-copy professional typescript to proofs, and issue finally in first edition texts. For To the Lighthouse, no intermediate document stage survives between draft and proofs.8 The trajectory from personal writing to the fictional autonomy of the narrative as a whole may only be gauged, therefore, from the extent, degree and quality of variation between draft and proofs. In the first example from the published text cited above, Lily Briscoe sees Mrs Ramsay ‘stepping with her usual quickness across fields among whose folds, purplish and soft, among whose flowers, hyacinths or lilies, she vanished.’ This half-sentence constitutes the ultimate condensation of a drafting process attempted first on one day but taken up again the next day almost from scratch and considerably expanded (cf. draft pages 222–23 and 224). This is one of numerous visions of Mrs Ramsay that the narrative attributes to Lily Briscoe. In the process of writing, the labour of calling them up is reflected upon:

Inevitably wherever she happened to be, were it London or country, her eye then, half closing sought in the real world some counterpart, something to help out her imagination; & found it in Piccadilly, in Bond Street, in the moors too, in all hills that were dying out in the evening. [marginal addition: a suggestion of the fields of death] […] All these states fade suddenly. But it was always the same. […] Dont dream, dont see, reality checked her, recalling her by some unexpected dint or shade, something she could not domesticate within her mind [draft page 223]

The passage records in anguished writing an anguished state of mind. Or is the anguish the language betrays caused by the strain of putting visions into words in the very process of writing? In a way, the passage has the air of a set of notes towards text yet to be written. We recognise retrospectively that the ‘something to help out her imagination; & [finding] it in Piccadilly, in Bond Street’ has been rethought, amplified in much particularity and rewritten into the passage ultimately accomplished:

Wherever she happened to be, […] in the country or in London, the vision would come to her […]. She looked down the railway carriage, the omnibus; […] looked at the windows opposite; at Piccadilly, lamp-strung in the evening. All had been part of the fields of death. But always something—it might be a face, a voice, a paper boy crying Standard, News—thrust through, snubbed her, waked her, required and got in the end an effort of attention, so that the vision must be perpetually remade. (197)

Under yet closer scrutiny it becomes apparent that, in rethinking and revising the one into the other of the sibling passages, the direction of thought has been turned around. Culminating in ‘Dont dream, dont see, reality checked her,’ the draft feels as if written out of a real-life situation: the reality of life must hold in check and dissipate visions, which are but ‘the undomesticated’ within the mind. The realities of the everyday, it is true, are acknowledged, too, in the accomplished text, ‘requir[ing] and [getting] in the end an effort of attention;’ yet this is but a transitory drawback out of which ‘the vision must be perpetually remade.’ In terms of the stages of Virginia Woolf’s composition in language, the empirical author’s real-life affinity articulated in the drafting has been turned into the artist’s acknowledgement of the source of her art which is just that, ‘vision […] perpetually remade.’ The acknowledgement comes indeed from the artist and her double together: on the level of the narrative, from Lily Briscoe; on the level of the work, from Virginia Woolf who has inscribed into its text the fundamental dependence of her art on ‘vision […] perpetually remade.’

Considering how, as seen, Virginia Woolf metamorphoses memory into fiction, we discern her in a redoubled field of force of creative writing. In her self-identity as Virginia Woolf, she fruitfully engages with Mrs Ramsay as Julia Stephen, in memory of her relation to her mother in life and in visions of her through all the years since she died. At the same time, being the literary author she is, she creates the novel’s characters, be it Mrs Ramsay or Lily Briscoe, wholly as characters in and of the fiction. She imagines Lily Briscoe, moreover, as much emotionally as in the exercising of her art, and thus engages with her as her mirroring other, rounded into autonomy progressively through all the novel’s drafting and revision.9

* * *

Perpetual remaking is of the nature of the genetics of texts and of works of literature. The observable facts of Virginia Woolf’s insistent making and remaking of To the Lighthouse I have discussed elsewhere, from a text-critical and editorial perspective, to be sure, but with a main focus also on their critical import.10 The most significant moment of remaking occurred when two-and-a-half pages of text were at a late stage removed from the proofs.11 On the face of it, the cut was contingent purely on the book production in England. By excising these pages already typeset, the British first edition could be contained within 16 sheets, that is 320 pages. But the cut Woolf actually made can by no means be accounted for in bibliographical terms alone. It is critically highly significant as a revision, a re-vision, of James in his relation to Mr Ramsay.

The passage articulates James’s recollections of the dismal times the brothers and sisters had when after their mother’s death their father forced them to accompany him on restless lecturing circuits across London. Comparing the proof with the first draft shows some degree of working-over. For instance, the proof text unites moments of thought and action within James alone that were before distributed between James and a younger brother. Comparing the context before and after the cut from the proofs, on the other hand, reveals two things. The excision has eliminated perhaps the last passage that residually still articulated a real-life family memory. Consequently, the cut effects a shift, as momentous as it was last-minute, in how James in the present relates to his father. During their sail to the lighthouse, James is working intensely through his emotions and begins to set against his hate the love he feels for his father. The narrative reinforces this inner process, moreover, by the action. It is James, the grown-up young man he now is, who steers the boat safely across the bay, and ultimately receives his father’s praise. The reminiscence of the dismal London years, by contrast, fell back behind the character development so realised. For it culminated in the vow ‘he would never praise his father as long as he lived’. By excising the flashback, Virginia Woolf thus properly validated James’s maturity that, on rereading, she found she had established in the text. Just as she had worked Lily Briscoe progressively into fictional autonomy, so she recognised here the necessity to harmonise the narrative fully with the logic inherent in its overall construction of James, not as a residual portrait of her brother Thoby, but properly as the autonomous character he is in the fictional world of To the Lighthouse.

The instruction to cut was conveyed to the American publishers. The British and US editions are identical in lacking the reminiscence of the dismal London years. But in other details of often lesser, but in a few instances of great significance, they sport a willed difference.12 The British and US first editions thus constitute two versions of the novel. Accumulating through a spread of variant passages, the distinction is epitomised in the divergent ends of the ‘Windows’ section in the two editions.13

* * *

To turn her writing into two text versions is something Virginia Woolf already once undertook while still in the course of composing To the Lighthouse. From the creative energy generated inventing ‘Part Two’ for the novel, she chose to develop an alternative of separate standing. After the first drafting of ‘Part Two’ as accomplished between 30 April and the end of May 1926, she ventured into the alternative before revising from it, even against it, ‘Time Passes’ for the novel. The alternative survives in a professional typescript (with minor authorial adjustments) prepared in October 1926. From it, a translation into French was made.14 This typescript carries for the first time the title ‘Time Passes’. Its text, while in terms of To the Lighthouse a version of its middle section, is in view of Virginia Woolf’s fictional oeuvre at the same time comparable, say, to the independent short stories generated out of Mrs. Dalloway.

Only a day into her first drafting of ‘Part Two’, Virginia Woolf reflected in her diary: ‘I cannot make it out—here is the most difficult abstract piece of writing—I have to give an empty house, no people’s characters, the passage of time, all eyeless & featureless with nothing to cling to[.]’(D 3, 76) The opening establishes that it is raining heavily, it is night, the occupants of the house are asleep. Soon the sleepers are lifted from their beds by ghostly comforters and laid out sleeping on the beach. The house is now empty and left to disintegrate and decay, as time passes, under the forces of nature, the fecundity of fauna and flora, the ravages of wind and water. From this, three strands of narrative are spun. One engages with the dilapidation of the house and the overgrowth of the garden, the second with the fates of the members of the family during the years between the section’s beginning and end, and the third with the struggles of Mrs McNab and Mrs Bast—forces of nature, they too—against the house’s ultimate ‘plung[ing] to the depths to lie upon the sands of oblivion.’ This triple-plaited progression originated in the draft and remained, as we recognise, a constitutive structural element of the ‘Time Passes’ section through to the published text.

What distinguishes the typescript text, by contrast, and the draft itself before it, is the dominance of the supernatural, the ghostly, over all human concerns and ultimately also over the forces of nature. Throughout, those ‘ghostly confidantes, sharers, comforters’ are felt to be omnipresent in house, garden and on the beach, and at numerous anchor points in the narrative the sleepers are explicitly woven into mystic communion with them, until at the end it is into their realm that everything is on the point of dissolving, just up to the very moment that night turns again into day. Taking it in in its full complexity, we recognise ‘Time Passes’ in the typescript version as a visionary text. Nowhere more exuberantly perhaps in her oeuvre has Virginia Woolf sought or found expression for the euphoria at the end of the First World War, and for the visionary promise peace was felt to hold. The ghostly dimension of ‘Time Passes’ in the typescript, nonetheless, would (however subtly) have undermined the envisioned reality of To the Lighthouse. Thus, the version designed for the novel overrides its independent twin. Yet when we juxtapose the versions, the mystic typescript text begins to resonate from its absence to enrich our understanding of ‘Time Passes’ and to open out yet further the vision of To the Lighthouse.15

1 Monks House was the country residence of Leonard and Virginia Woolf in Rodmell, near Lewes in the south of England.

2 For Virginia Woolf, the calendar ties her writing firmly to her life. Dates recur at regular intervals in her manuscripts, just as of course they mark, entry by entry, the progress of her diaries.

3 The two first-edition texts slightly diverge on purpose. See further below.

4 Graphically represented, in turn, in Hermione Lee’s ‘Introduction’ to Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, ed. by Stella McNichol (London: Penguin Books, 1991), pp. ix–xliii (p. xiv). All subsequent text references will be by page number to this edition.

5 Due to a printing error in the British first edition, only belatedly discovered, there has been some confusion in the publication history about the segments of ‘The Lighthouse’. They are authentically 13 in number.

6 The terminus ad quem is 17 August 1926, entered twice, both at the end of the last stint in question, and at the top of the following one. The time span we are considering falls between 13 (or 14?) and 17 August 1926 and likely divides into manuscript pages 220, 221, 222–23, 224, 225. The digital images of these pages, and transcriptions to accompany them, are available at

7 This is a simplified transcription of the flow of the drafting into text. Ellipses between square brackets indicate where phrasing attempts abandoned and/or deleted in the course of the writing have been left out, with only one example of two sentences left standing in a {-…-}-bracketing to represent the eddies of phrasing in the course of composition. The two additions in {+…+}-bracketing, conversely, instance verbal enrichment. Naturally, the transcription is still of writing in progress, not of an achieved text.

8 With one exception: we possess a professional typescript of ‘Time Passes’ documenting an independent version of the novel’s middle section: see below.

9 Hermione Lee’s ‘Introduction’ to the 1991 Penguin edition of To the Lighthouse (see note 4) provides rich observation and reflection to complement the close genetic analysis pursued in this essay.

10 See the essay above, ‘A Tale of Two Texts: Or, How One Might Edit Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse’, from Woolf Studies Annual, 10 (2004), 1–30.

11 Printed in full in the essay above.

12 For books of British origin and with British copyright, US copyright was legally obtainable only on condition that a book was freshly typeset and printed in the United States. In addition, it was a widely held belief, which Virginia Woolf shared, that some textual divergence was also demanded.

13 This is substance and burden of the essay above, ‘A Tale of Two Texts: Or, How One Might Edit Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse’.

14 An account of the arrangements for the translation into French is given in Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, ed. by Susan Dick (The Shakespeare Head Press Edition) (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992); ‘Introduction’, p. xxviii; Appendix C gives a transcript of the typescript itself; or, this may be studied online at

15 The rewriting of the very end of typescript, segment IX, into its counterpart segment 10 in ‘Time Passes’ gives rise to an intriguing speculation. In the typescript, ‘they [the sleepers] were waked wide; they were raised upright; their eyes were opened; now it was day.’ In the novel, it is Lily Briscoe whose ‘eyes opened wide. Here she was again, she thought, sitting bolt upright in bed, awake.’ If this ending is an echo of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ‘Why, then, we are awake’ at daybreak as the lovers awake from their midsummer-night enchantments, it would, considering Virginia Woolf’s Shakespeare affinity, not be out of the question to see in ‘Time Passes’ as a whole a distant structural echo of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.