Whatever I did today it had to be air-conditioned, so I skulked off this morning to see the newly-restored Lady from Shanghai ... convoluted plot, Orson Welles with a shockingly bad Irish accent, but worth it for Rita Hayworth's sheer glamour (and she was blonde!) and the brilliant Hall of Mirrors scene at the end.
I laughed when I saw Virginia and Leonard's succinct one-liner to Lytton Strachey, announcing their engagement. Ha! Ha! it said.
Next to it was Lytton's letter to his brother, three years previously - describing his own proposal to Virginia, which was briefly accepted. 'It was an awkward moment, as you may imagine, especially as I realised, the very minute it was happening, that the whole thing was repulsive to me. Her sense was amazing and luckily it turned out that she's not in love. The result was that I was able to manage a fairly honourable retreat.'
He wrote to Leonard, 'You would be great enough, and you'd have the advantage of physical desire. I was in terror lest she should kiss me.'
Ha! Ha! indeed!
|Madge Garland, by Edward Wolfe, 1926 (Geffrye Museum)|
I liked this portrait of Madge Garland, fashion editor of Vogue, 'the woman who dressed Virginia Woolf' ... a stylist, who would have thought! Virginia admired this outfit by a Paris couturier so much that Garland had one made up for her in a different colour. You can see her wearing it in photographs taken at Garsington, although the dress is actually brightly patterned. (Madge's portrait painter had toned it down.) Even so, Vita Sackville-West thought that Virginia 'dresses quite atrociously.'
But then, at the end, Virginia's walking stick that Leonard found by the river ...
And her last letter ...
Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times ...
I feel rather appalled that it should be read by gawping strangers.