“The Platform of Time” is a lovely Hesperus Press volume collecting together a variety of memoirs by Virginia Woolf, most of which haven’t seen the light of day for a long time. This is a longer than usual book from Hesperus and mine is the expanded edition (gosh!). Anything by VW is good in my view, so I was very pleased to come across these pieces. The only one I’d read before was the introduction to “Life As We have Known It” because I have this book in a lovely Virago edition. So I approached this volume with quite a bit of anticipation.

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The memoirs and portraits cover a variety of subjects from family members (her father Leslie Stephen, a variety of aunts, her nephew Julian Bell) to friends (Rupert Brooke, Roger Fry) and also cover such events as the notorious Dreadnought Hoax. My favourite type of VW writing is when she lets loose her imagination and her flights of fancy, and it was the pieces here that indulged that tendency that were in my opinion the best. Some of the pieces – e.g. that on Lady Strachey – were a little formal, presumably because they were written for publication as official-type obituaries, and they suffered a little for it. But when she lets herself go her writing is incomparable.

The volume is beautifully put together by Hesperus, will illustrations and excellent notes and annotations. This is not a place to start with Virginia Woolf if you have not read her work before – in that case, head straight for her fiction! But if you are a lover of VW this is an essential addition to your collection.

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