Modernist Scholar Celebrates Dalloway Day 2018 at the National Portrait Gallery and British Library
On 20 June 2018, Professor Alexandra Harris led a tour at the National Portrait Gallery of selected paintings and photographs of and by Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and others associated with the Bloomsbury Group and the modernist movement. She gave readings (with Hermione Lee) from Woolf's Mrs Dalloway in the British Library piazza.
Virginia Woolf's modernist novel Mrs Dalloway (1925) takes place on a swelteringly hot Wednesday in June 1923. Dalloway Day, which takes place annually in June, was recently established to celebrate this extraordinary text and to open it up to new audiences, and to affirm Woolf's enduring significance for art and culture today. The most recent Dalloway Day took place on 20 June 2018, and featured events organized by the Royal Society of Literature, the British Library, the National Portrait Gallery, the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, Dalloway Terrace, and Monk's House, among others. The event at the RSL featured a discussion about Woolf's legacy between her biographer Hermione Lee and the novelist Alan Hollinghurst, along with a discussion about Mrs Dalloway between the literary critic Elaine Showalter and Sarah Churchwell, Chair of Public Understanding in the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study.
For this year's Dalloway Day, Professor Alexandra Harris led an event at the National Portrait Gallery, which was full to capacity with Woolfian readers from students to experts. Those present discussed forms of portraiture (written and painted), success, celebrity, memory, and the depth of ordinary lives. Afterwards, in the British Library piazza, Alexandra and Hermione Lee gave readings from Mrs Dalloway and discussed some of its marvels and mysteries.
Alexandra Harris is a Professorial Fellow in the Department of English Literature at the University of Birmingham and a member of the Centre for Modernist Cultures. She is the author and editor of several books, including Romantic Moderns (2010) and Virginia Woolf (2011), and most recently Weatherland: Writers and Artists under English Skies (2015).