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This article is taken from PN Review 207, Volume 39 Number 1, September - October 2012.

The Ouse's Muddy Bank Gabriel Josipovici
If you take the path over the Downs it is four miles from the old market town of Lewes, in Sussex, to the village of Rodmell. If you choose to walk along the bank of the Ouse the distance is more like six, for the river swings east towards Glynde in a great loop, and for the last mile or so you have to leave the high bank and venture down across the water-meadows in a perpetual zig-zag as you skirt ditches, streams and mini-canals.

Here, where the path to Rodmell leaves the river, on 28 March 1941, Virginia Woolf drowned herself. This is how her nephew and biographer Quentin Bell describes the incident.

On the morning of Friday 28 March, a bright, clear, cold day, Virginia went as usual to her studio room in the garden. There she wrote two letters, one for Leonard, one for Vanessa - the two people she loved best. In both letters she explained that she was hearing voices, believed that she could never recover; she could not go on and spoil Leonard's life for him. Then she went back into the house and wrote again to Leonard:

Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given ...


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