Mrs. Dalloway Goes “To The Lighthouse”: Virginia Woolf and Kitty Lushington
A LECTURE BY DAVID TAYLOR
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Class of 1941 Lecture Room
University of Delaware Library
Free and open to the public • Refreshments
RSVP via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 302-831-2231
In this lecture, noted British historian David Taylor will use unpublished material from the Lushington archive to reveal the little-known background to Virginia Woolf’s novels To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway. Taylor will discuss Woolf’s relationship with her childhood friend Kitty Lushington, and the remarkable and well-connected Lushington family.
Kitty Lushington was Woolf’s “Mrs Dalloway.” The “three Miss Lushingtons” spent family holidays with Virginia’s family at Talland House, Cornwall, which Woolf later used for the setting of To The Lighthouse. Kitty’s engagement to Leopold Maxse at Talland House was Woolf’s “first introduction to the passion of love.” This episode was used by Woolf for the climactic moment of the first part of her novel. Kitty later established herself as a well-known London hostess and Woolf used her again as the model for ‘Mrs Dalloway’.
The Lushingtons were a remarkably well-connected and affluent professional family who took full and creative parts in all the life around them. Their circle of friends, spread across three generations, reads like a “Who’s Who” of Victorian England and includes names such as William Wilberforce, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Darwin, Edward Lear, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Alfred Tennyson, William Morris, John Ruskin, the Brownings, Hubert Parry and Ralph Vaughan Williams. It was Vernon Lushington who famously introduced Edward Burne-Jones to Dante Gabriel Rossetti – a meeting which led to the second phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Vernon Lushington was also one of the first promoters of the work Walt Whitman in the UK, earning Whitman’s fulsome praise. In his lecture, David Taylor will use unpublished material from the Lushington family archive to reveal more of the background to Woolf’s two novels and will discuss her relationship with her childhood friend Kitty.
Dr. David Taylor is an historian and author based in the UK. After many years of persistent enquiry and research, he was fortunate to locate the extensive archive of the Lushington family. Taylor obtained his doctorate from Roehampton University. His thesis was on Vernon Lushington’s role as a follower of Auguste Comte and the development of Positivism in the UK. For this he was awarded the Blackham Fellowship and then the Prix de these Auguste Comte from France. He has spent two years cataloguing the archive.
For more information, view this PDF: Taylor_Lecture_Announcement.
“The tea table however was also fertilized by a ravishing stream of female beauty – the three Miss Lushingtons, the three Miss Stillmans, and the three Miss Montgomeries – all triplets, all ravishing, but of the nine the paragon for wit, grace, charm and distinction was undoubtedly the lovely Kitty Lushington.”
—Virginia Woolf, Moments of Being