The Frontal Cortex

The Voice of Woolf

Click here to hear the only known recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice. A few thoughts: 1) What an Oxbridge accent! So posh and crisp. This is the voice I always imagined for Mrs. Dalloway, but then I guess Woolf had a few servants as well. 2) Isn’t it amazing that we only have a single audio recording of Woolf? There’s no video of her, of course, and only a precious few photographs. Although Woolf is one of the most important novelists of the twentieth century, she exists now as a short stack of novels and a thick stack of letters and diaries. In other words, we can only know her through her own words. (I imagine Woolf would have wanted it this way.) But it’s sometimes striking how much the world has changed since Woolf walked into the river with stones in her pockets.


  1. #1 Luci
    October 25, 2008

    What a delightful interruption from politics – so much of which revolves around words.
    Her voice was brisker than the one I hear in my head while reading her work.
    And what a great line to have at hand for dictionary literalists who can’t feel the variety and evolution of language as a living thing.

    Thanks Jonah.

  2. #2 Pawlie Kokonuts
    October 25, 2008

    Fascinating. She sounds so posh I’m almost disappointed, I can’t explain why. Reminds me very much of hearing T.S. Eliot on Caedmon recordings reading “Prufrock.” But no one is as much fun to hear as Dylan Thomas, his cathedral voice priestly and majestic.

  3. #3 Shannon Murphy
    October 30, 2008

    My reading group is now desperately endeared to you.

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