Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

The birth of Orlando, from an exchange of letters between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West in October of 1927:

To Vita, Oct 9
“Yesterday morning I was in despair…. I couldn’t screw a word from me; and at last dropped my head in my hands: dipped my pen in the ink, and wrote these words, as if automatically on a clean sheet: Orlando: A Biography. No sooner had I done this than my body was flooded with rapture and my brain with ideas. I wrote rapidly till 12…. But listen; suppose Orlando turns out to be Vita; and its all about you and the lusts of your flesh and the lure of your mind (heart you have none, who go gallivanting down the lanes with Mary Campbell)…. Shall you mind? Say yes, or No:…”

To Virginia, Oct 11
“My God, Virginia, if ever I was thrilled and terrified it is at the prospect of being projected into the shape of Orlando. What fun for you; what fun for me. You see, any vengeance that you ever want to take will lie ready to your hand. Yes, go ahead, toss up your pancake, brown it nicely on both sides, pour brandy over it, and serve hot. You have my full permission. Only I think that having drawn and quartered me, unwound and retwisted me, or whatever it is that you intend to do, you ought to dedicate it to your victim.”

— (via The Letters of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf)