Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
Anecdotes About Authors In The 20th Century

To the Lighthouse ... had been published on 5 May 1927. Vita Sackville West, returning from Persia, found a copy awaiting her. Virginia had promised she would have a new book ready for her. It was inscribed: Vita from Virginia (In my opinion the best novel I have ever written) . Vita was a little surprised at such shameless immodesty, but that night when she opened the book to read it in bed, she found that the inscribed copy was a dummy....

Clive Bell, back in London, wrote to Vanessa in May that the town seemed particularly dull and sad. `Only Virginia is sublimely happy, as well she may be—her book is a masterpiece.' The view was pretty generally held by the critics, and a great many people wrote enthusiastically, although one complained that her descriptions of the fauna and flora of the Hebrides were totally inaccurate. The book sold better than its predecessors—3,873 copies (two of which were purchased by the Seafarers' Educational Society) in the first year.

From Quentin Bell, Virginia Woolf. A Biography, ii (1972), 127, 129.

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