Home Blogs University of Chichester graduate publishes new book on history of Virginia Woolf’s Sussex house

University of Chichester graduate publishes new book on history of Virginia Woolf’s Sussex house

The former Sussex country retreat of authors Leonard and Virginia Woolf is the subject of a new book from a University of Chichester graduate.

A History of Monks House and Village of Rodmell has been researched and written by Julie Singleton, and has been published by Cecil Woolf, the nephew of Virginia.
It was while Julie was studying for her Creative Writing MA, completed in 2003, that she developed a strong interest in Virginia’s work. She is a member of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and has worked at a volunteer steward at Monks House, which is now a National Trust property.

Monk’s House is in the village of Rodmell in East Sussex, and was an essential focus of their lives until Leonard’s death in 1969. The house and garden provided respite from London and gave the couple the physical and metaphorical space necessary to create their novels.

The book looks at the complete history of the house, the first mention of which was found to be in 1707. During her research, Julie discovered a more personal connection to the house. She said: “Writing the monograph threw up all sorts of surprises, not least of which was finding out that I was a descendant of one of the families that lived at Monks House in the late nineteenth century. To this day, I wonder if this is why I was drawn towards the project, a kind of genetic attraction to the house.

“Researching the monograph was a steep learning curve, but meant meeting all sorts of interesting people and making lifelong friendships. These include the daughter of Percy Bartholomew, former gardener to the Woolfs, and as well as Cecil Woolf who has been tremendously supportive and encouraging and to whom I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.”

Julie has recently co-edited a book called ‘Back Row Brighton’ for Queenspark books, a community based publisher in Brighton and is about to become a volunteer editor for The Deckchair, Queenspark’s website about reading and writing with a local connection.

She is keen to maintain a strong relationship with the University of Chichester after a fruitful experience. She said: “I enjoyed the MA immensely as it gave me the chance to meet people with similar interests in a truly stimulating environment. The support and encouragement of the staff made me feel like a real writer. I love going back to attend some of the events. It’s great to see old faces again and meet those like-minded people, one of the things I have really missed since my graduation.”

The monograph is on sale at Lewes Tourist Information Centre and other outlets in the town. It has also been approved for sale at two National Trust properties, Sissinghurst and Knole, both famously associated with Vita Sackville West, who was a friend and lover of Virginia Woolf. It can also be obtained from Cecil Woolf Publishers by e-mailing cecilwoolf@gmail.com.

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