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Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries$
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Julie Vandivere and Megan Hicks

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781942954088

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781942954088.001.0001

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date: 29 November 2021

“Could I sue a dead person?”: Rebecca West and Virginia Woolf

“Could I sue a dead person?”: Rebecca West and Virginia Woolf

(p.189) “Could I sue a dead person?”: Rebecca West and Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries

Mark Hussey

Liverpool University Press

Despite their claims that they did not know one another very well, Woolf and Rebecca West maintained a wary regard for one another throughout their lifetimes. To Woolf, West was a “celebrity” and also a somewhat aggressive figure; to West, Woolf was a genius and also a mad woman. In 1982, Woolf was described in the Saturday Review as “the Marilyn Monroe of American academia,” while West was profiled as “the aged virago of English intellectuals” in the New York Times. By putting recent work on literary celebrity into dialogue with Brenda Silver’s earlier theorizing of Woolf’s “iconicity,” this paper asks how West went from being “Indisputably the world’s number 1 Woman Writer” (Time, 1947) to “little more than a famous name” (Mendelson 2000), and questions the value of celebrity to a woman writer. It argues that West and Woolf mutually missed the opportunity for a fruitful intimacy.

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, Celebrity, Female authors

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