Virginia Woolf, 28 November 1916

On 28 November 1916, Virginia Woolf began writing what is now chapter XV of her second novel, Night and Day.


The chapter falls in the part of the novel where the main characters take a Christmas holiday in Lincolnshire. As is clear from the manuscript (the original is held in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library), in her first conception of the novel, Woolf imagined it being set on the border of the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. This was a part of England she was much more familiar with than Lincolnshire: in 1906 she had stayed at Blo’ Norton in Norfolk, and the imaginary place-name Disham probably derives from Diss, which is only 6 miles away.  At one point in the published text, the minor character Henry Otway is described as occasionally giving violin lessons to someone in Bungay (in Suffolk), a journey that would be probable if he were starting from near Diss, but much less so if he were starting from somewhere near Lincoln, which is 99 miles away.

My scholarly edition of Night and Day, due for publication in 2017 as part of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Virginia Woolf, provides a full account of the novel’s place names and topographical idiosyncrasies.


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