If you walk around Bloomsbury, in London’s West End, and stop by at Tavistock Square, you will find a series of memorials. These include only three sculptures – those of Surgeon Louisa Aldrich-Blake; Gandhi; and – perhaps harder to notice – the bust of Virginia Woolf.
This relatively small bust was not originally conceived as a public monument. It is a copy of the only sculpture of the author taken from life. Another copy of this bust, sculpted by Stephen Tomlin in 1931, is housed at the National Portrait Gallery.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) lived at Tavistock Square between 1924 and 1939. The plaque on the sculpture’s pedestal reads:
“Then one day walking round Tavistock Square I made up, as I sometimes make up my books, To the Lighthouse; in a great, apparently involuntary, rush.”
Woolf’s residence at 52 Tavistock Square did not only witness the publication of To The Lighthouse, but also of other famous works by the author, including Mrs Dalloway, Orlando, and A Room of One’s Own. These works were published in the basement of the building, where Virginia and Leonard Woolf had moved their publishing company. The Hogarth Press, founded in 1917, published books by writers that took unconventional points of view, including E.M. Forster and T.S. Eliot.
During some of her time in Tavistock, Virginia Woolf maintained an intimate and sexual relationship with poet and novelist Vita Sackville-West. Woolf’s novel Orlando is inspired by Sackville-West and her family history, and recounts the life of Orlando, a male poet that becomes a woman and lives for centuries.
Virginia Woolf is recognised as one of the most innovative writers of the 20th century. Her work captured a fast-changing world, from transformations in gender roles, sexuality and class, to technologies and the impact of war. She is also considered one of the greatest feminist authors. In her essay A Room of One’s Own she talks about the difficulties women faced because of the disproportionate power men held.
Woolf’s life was marked by mental health problems, and she ended her own life at age 59. Death and mental illness are also present in her works, including Mrs Dalloway, in which she criticises the treatment of mental illness and depression.
The bust at Tavistock Square is now the only public sculpture of Virginia Woolf. However, a campaign is underway to fund a statue of the author in Richmond, where she lived for ten years and founded the Hogarth Press.
For now, you can explore the 3D model of the sculpture at Tavistock Square.
To learn more about the making of this 3D model, explore the images below:
LGBT+ History Month is celebrated throughout the month of February in the UK. This event aims to promote tolerance and increase the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, as well as members of the LGBT+ community of other genders and sexual orientations, their history, lives and experiences.
As part of the LGBT+ History Month, Spectrum 3D Services would like to take the opportunity to share 3D models of monuments dedicated to some LGBT+ historical figures, as well as their stories.