While walking through London, in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf, Monica Ali concludes that ‘trying to get the measure of London is futile. Better to do as Woolf does and catch at thoughts and feelings, the immediate perception of things, so as to be able to say, like Lily Briscoe in To The Lighthouse, Yes, I have had my vision.’ While time may have changed the city, Woolf’s nuanced way of capturing a moment or a place, in all its immediacy, has influenced generations of writers after her. Why does Virginia Woolf continue to be such a powerful point of reference for writers working today? And why does she still have so much to show writers about themselves?
For the 2019 Dalloway Day – a whole day dedicated to the celebration Woolf’s one-day novel Mrs Dalloway – Monica Ali, Elif Shafak and Patricia Waugh discuss Woolf’s influence and the challenges of interpolating one of the 20th Century’s most significant writers in works inflected by their own lives.