If Virginia Woolf came back to life today, what would she make of it? How would she feel about what’s happening to books, and to the reputation of her own books, and of the Bloomsbury group? The acclaimed novelist Maggie Gee, whose thirteen previous books include The White Family, My Cleaner and My Animal Life, this month publishes her new novel, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, which imagines what ensues when an author working in the New York Public Library becomes so passionate about Woolf that she suddenly materialises. In a conversation chaired by Anne Chisholm, biographer of Frances Partridge, the long-lived Bloomsbury diarist who remembered Woolf from her youth, Maggie Gee discusses her novel with Alexandra Harris, author of Romantic Moderns, which explores connections between some of the 20th Century’s greatest writers and artists, including Virginia Woolf, Eric Ravilious and John Piper, and of a short biography of Woolf. They reflect on her imaginings of both past and future, and ask what she means to readers and writers today. Is she, for women writers in particular, a hard act to follow?
Recorded on Monday 16 June 2014.