This diverse collection of writing is a joy to read. However, it was not published in this format during the life of the author. Patched together by editor S.P. Rosenbaum, it is impossible to say what Woolf would have made of it. Perhaps she would have sighed at the industry which has built up around her output, but she might have been pleased that even fragments of her genius are being attended to decades after her death.
The various pieces on offer include adept sketches of people she appreciated. Her affectionate generosity to Roger Fry, Lady Strachey, Ottoline Morrell and John Maynard Keynes is not a shock. However, her cold appraisal of Julian Bell is more surprising. There was a lack of political sympathy between the generations which a shared love of literature could not bridge.
Content aside, it is the experimental confidence of Woolf that moves the reader. Her ways of thinking lit up her way with words. The succinctness which her father appreciated in prose is in evidence:
“(The art of biography is in its infancy. It has not yet learnt to walk without leading strings.)”