The Composition, Revision, Printing and Publications of To the Lighthouse

(Part I: Mark Hussey; Parts II and III: Peter Shillingsburg)

I. Writing
II. Production
British First Edition
American first edition
Uniform edition
Albatross edition
Everyman edition
III. Interpreting the documents to establish how the work was done
The Significance of Differences between the English and American Editions
Recommended reading on textual issues:
Appendix: Detailed analysis of the Proofs
I. Writing

In March 1925, several weeks before Mrs. Dalloway was published, Virginia Woolf took up her notebook labeled "Notes for Writing" and on a page headed "Notes for Stories" jotted down ideas for "sketches" that would be "a corridor" leading from her just-completed novel to "a new book." That January she had written in her diary, "I'm always conceiving stories now. Short ones-scenes-for instance. The Old Man (a character of L. S.)"(Jan 6 1925).The "Old Man" was an image she had recorded as early as October 1924 when she reflected in her diary on critics who claimed that her method would lead to a dead end: "My cul-de-sac, as they call it, stretches so far, & shows such vistas. I see already The Old Man"(Oct 17 1924). However, before she would develop a character of her father, Leslie Stephen-the Old Man-in a new novel, she continued to think of short stories centered around "people at Mrs. D's party." By May 1925 she was "all on the strain with the desire" (May 14 1925) to begin writing the novel she had already named To the Lighthouse, but felt she must first "write a few little stories" and "let the Lighthouse simmer"(May 14 1925). Between finishing Mrs. Dalloway and beginning To the Lighthouse, Woolf wrote eight short stories: "The New Dress"; "Happiness"; "Ancestors"; "The Introduction"; "Together and Apart"; "The Man Who Loved His Kind"; "A Simple Melody"; and "A Summing Up."1

In 1924, Woolf sat for a photograph that was published in Vogue's "We Nominate for the Hall of Fame" feature in late May, wearing a dress that had belonged to her mother.2 Vogue's photographers, Maurice Beck and Helen Macgregor, used a studio that had once been occupied by the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner, who had proposed to Julia Prinsep Jackson, Woolf's mother, in the 1860s. Sitting again to the photographers in April 1925, Woolf reflected on her family's associations with their studio (D April 27 1925). In "Ancestors," a Mrs. Vallance feels alienated by the young people at Mrs. Dalloway's party and recalls her childhood in Scotland with the beautiful figures of her parents, John Ellis Rattray and Catherine Macdonald. Thus, themes of family memory that she would explore in To the Lighthouse emerged in the wake of Woolf's completion of Mrs. Dalloway. Woolf later both told her sister Vanessa Bell and also described in her draft memoir "A Sketch of the Past" how she had made up To the Lighthouse "in a great apparently involuntary rush" while walking around Tavistock Square (Moments of Being 81[woolfonline 'Sketch' typescript pg 28]).

By June 1925, she had "written 6 little stories" (June 14 1925) but had not begun writing the novel. She wanted the sea "to be heard all through it" (June 27 1925) and believed she would have to invent a new name for the form her fiction took: "A new - by Virginia Woolf. But what? Elegy?"(June 27 1925).Recognizing that this novel would draw on her own family history and childhood memories, she worried that its theme might be sentimental. Still, she had "a superstitious wish" (July 20 1925) not to begin writing until she was at Monks House, her country home in Sussex, where she and Leonard went on August 5.

In the first holograph notebook of To the Lighthouse, we see that she did in fact begin writing the very next day, making a "plan of this book" on August 6. On August 19, at a birthday party for her nephew Quentin Bell, she fainted and remained ill for several weeks. But by then she knew that the book would be in three parts; that it would consist of "two blocks joined by a corridor," a figure she drew in her writing notebook, and that it would include an experiment, something "I'm dared to do by my friends, the flight of time & consequent break of unity in my design." This "impersonal thing" (i.e. "Time Passes") interested her very much: "A new problem like that breaks fresh ground in ones mind; prevents the regular ruts"(July 20 1925).

In September 1925, she recorded having written "22 pages straight off in less than a fortnight"(Sept 5 1925). But other commitments-essays to write, books to review, manuscripts to vet for the Hogarth Press-intervened, and in January 1926 she wrote to her lover Vita Sackville-West that she was "furious: I was to begin that wretched novel today, and now bed and tea and toast and the usual insipidity. Oh damn the body"(Jan 9 1926). She would continue to complain in letters to Vita that trying to write fiction in London was like "nailing a flag to a mast in a raging gale"(March 1 1926).By the end of April 1926, she was able to record the end of the first part of the novel. The middle part-"the most difficult abstract piece of writing"(April 30 1926)-would be written during the torpor of the General Strike, and concluded in May. It would take another summer at Monks House to finish the third part, "The Lighthouse."

The Hogarth Press was preparing that summer to publish a book of the photographs of Woolf's celebrated great-aunt Julia Margaret Cameron. Woolf wrote to Vanessa to ask if she had any "Aunt Julia letters," as she was preparing an introduction for the volume (one of two, the other being written by Roger Fry). Sorting through Cameron's images for Victorian Photographs of Famous Men and Fair Women, Woolf had the opportunity to review photographs made when her mother was a girl visiting Freshwater, the community on the Isle of Wight where her great-aunt's house, Dimbola, stood. At the same time, Woolf also possessed the photograph album made by her father after her mother's death in 1895 (now owned by the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College). At the end of July, Woolf visited the novelist Thomas Hardy, who described to her his memory of her mother "who would come in & out when I was talking to your father" (D July 25 1926). The visit led Woolf to ponder the "transmuting process" by which life is made into art (D 1926 [vol. 3, pg 102]), the very process she was engaged in as she moved closer to the end of To the Lighthouse. Soon after the novel was published, Woolf told her sister that she had deliberately refrained from reading her parents' letters or "father's life," and was therefore pleased that Vanessa had found Mrs. Ramsay "so like mother" (May 25 1927). It is not certain what "life" she is referring to here: it might be Frederic W. Maitland's official biography of Leslie Stephen, for which Woolf had contributed a "Note" soon after her father's death in 1904,3 or it may have been Leslie Stephen's own "Mausoleum book," as his children called the long letter to his children about their mother that Leslie had written in 1895 following Julia's death.4

Julia Stephen's death marked an abrupt end to the Cornwall summers at Talland House in St. Ives that had begun in 1882, the year Virginia was born. Ten years later, the four Stephen children (Virginia, Vanessa, Thoby, and Adrian) returned for a sentimental vacation in Cornwall, visiting their old haunts, and even one evening creeping up to the windows of Talland House. Woolf must have consulted the diary she kept of this trip while writing To the Lighthouse as she wrote to Vita Sackville-West that she had left it somewhere-"either Long Barn or Charleston"-and asked her to return it if she found it (Jan 7 1926).

By early September 1926, Woolf was "casting about for an end"(Sept 5 1926) and recorded finishing the book "provisionally" on September 16 (Sept 28 1926). Almost at once, she began to revise it. That October, she was in touch with Charles Mauron, a friend of Roger Fry's, to ask if he would consider translating the middle part of the novel for publication in the French journal Commerce. Mauron had been recommended by E. M. Forster, whose novel A Passage to India he had translated. The translation was arranged through the publisher of Commerce, the Princess di Bassiano, for whom, Woolf later explained to Mauron, she had "had to alter a chapter of a novel." The version of "Time Passes" translated by Mauron as "Le temps passe," is, according to James Haule, "undoubtedly an intermediary text, standing between the early Holograph and either published edition."5 No typescript of To the Lighthouse survives apart from the one from which Mauron prepared his translation, and which he retained. It is likely that this typescript was prepared specifically for Commerce. It differs from the holograph, as Haule notes, and is referred to as a "story" by Woolf in her letter thanking Mauron for his translation.6

Woolf's typical mode of composition was to write in longhand, and then to type up the holograph draft, which she would then continue to revise in pen, and then retype from earlier typed and marked-up drafts. She also sometimes made use of professional typists to prepare her work for submission to the printer. Having finished the first draft of To the Lighthouse at the end of September, she began to type it at the rate of "six pages . . . daily" (November 23 1926). In January 1927 she recorded that she had "been revising & retyping (some parts 3 times over)" (January 14 1927) and that the typescript was now ready for Leonard to read. He had done so by the 23rd, declaring it a "masterpiece" (January 23 1927). By January 31, the Hogarth Press's printer, R. and R. Clark in Edinburgh, had set the first batch of proofs.

II. Production

Turning a typescript into a novel published simultaneously in two countries and then republished in different formats in England and on the Continent introduced further opportunities for revision. Every edition of To the Lighthouse differs from every other in slight but significant ways.

There are ten extant variant texts of To the Lighthouse as it existed prior to Woolf's death in 1941: 1, a holograph draft in three notebooks (housed in the Berg Collection, NYPL); 2, a typescript of "Time Passes" sent to Charles Mauron (owned by his widow); 3, Mauron's translation for publication as "Le temps passe" published in Commerce, Winter 1926; 4 and 5, two copies of first proofs created by R. and R. Clark (housed in the Mortimer Rare Book Room of the William Allan Neilson Library of Smith College): one copy survives in full, the other copy survives only for gatherings S, T, and U (pp. 273-322); both are marked up by Virginia Woolf but not identically; both were used by Harcourt, Brace to set the American first edition; 6, the English first edition and subsequent impressions; 7, the American first edition and subsequent impressions; 8, the Uniform edition; 9, the Albatross edition; and 10, the Everyman edition. In addition there are various translations, so far not considered here. Whatever other typescripts Woolf might have created (including the typescript used by R. and R. Clark to set type) have been lost, and it is clear from the first editions that Woolf marked other proof pages (particularly those she marked and sent back to R. and R. Clark) also now lost. It is possible that material relevant to To the Lighthouse will emerge, as has happened with other Woolf manuscripts in recent years7; however, we are bound to work with what we have and to remain open to the possibility that any suppositions we make might have to be revised if other sources come to light.

Julia Briggs has pointed out that, beginning with Mrs. Dalloway and "frequently thereafter," Virginia Woolf "independently revised two sets of proofs . . . sending one to Donald Brace . . . and returning the other, sometimes a single signature at a time" to the Clarks in Edinburgh (152). Woolf told Vita Sackville-West that she was "laboriously correcting two sets of proofs" in February 1927, and we may assume one of these was for the English edition, and the other for the American. Woolf expressed disappointment in her diary upon first seeing the proofs of her novel (February 28 1927), but this was not unusual as she typically would continue to revise her novels not only at the proof stage, but even after they were published.8


The proofs used to set the first English edition have not survived. This lost copy of the proofs was originally sent to Woolf, marked by her, and sent back to R. and R. Clark for corrections in the first English edition. This set was either marked by Woolf in some ways differently from the way she marked the proofs sent to America or her markings were interpreted differently by the compositors of the English and American printing houses. (One cannot rule out the possibility of a revised proof of the whole from R. and R. Clark to Woolf returned only to Clark [i.e., not sent to Harcourt, Brace]. Any of these possibilities might account for revisions after the first proofs, appearing only in the English edition.)

Woolf records finishing the novel on January 14, 1927, and she noted that Leonard Woolf finished reading the typescript on January 23. If R. and R. Clark produced galley slip proofs, they apparently did not send them to Woolf. The "first proofs" sent to Woolf were not galley proofs, but page proofs, already set as pages and imposed in the order required in the printing press to produce octavo sheets, printing eight pages on each side of a sheet which was then folded into eight-leaf (sixteen-page) gatherings. This means they were printed on both sides of each leaf-a feature not clearly evident in the digital images.

Woolf herself, apparently, tore open the top fold, but not the gutter folds of the proofs, because some of her ink markings have transferred to the facing pages. The second, partial, copy of the proofs retains this "opened-at-the-top, but still folded-at-the-gutter" form for gatherings S and T, though in the digital images, the sequentially paginated leaves of the gathering have been separated and photographed not as "openings" of a gathering but as discrete document units, leaving the pages not in pagination order but in the order in which they were imposed in the press.

This second copy of gatherings S - U was sent to Woolf, either along with the first set, or, more likely near the end of her proofing task. She marked up this partial copy of proofs and sent them on to America, where an editor at Harcourt, Brace copied the new revisions and cancellations into the original full proof set. That full copy forms the basis for the American typesetting.

The editors at Harcourt, Brace cut or tore apart the pages of the first, full, set of proofs, marking them in black pencil and ink for typesetting. The compositors also marked their progress on the pages. The pages were subsequently used at Harcourt, Brace for comparison (or proofreading) with the galleys produced in New York, for the beginning of each American proof slip is indicated in the proofs.

An physical oddity of the copies of proof produced by Clark and sent to Woolf is that they each had a single loose leaf at the end containing pages 321 and 322 (front and back), because printing these two pages entailed using the first leaf of a new sheet of paper-that is, keeping these two pages would entail printing a new gathering. There should have been a signature V or W at the foot of page 321, but there is not, suggesting that R. and R. Clark's compositors knew already that an adjustment in length would be required. Both surviving copies of proof were date-stamped the same day (11 February 1927 for gathering S; 12 February 1927 for gatherings T and U). The printed pages in both copies are identical (i.e., the second copy is NOT a second stage of proofing). Both copies were marked by Woolf, and both were sent to New York, but not at the same time.

Woolf received proofs from R. and R. Clark in batches (almost daily; the first is stamped 31 January 1927; the last two are stamped 12 February 1927). Woolf corrected and revised, always in violet ink, and then she sent one copy (now lost) back to R. and R. Clark to correct their typesetting and the other copy (now at Smith College) to Harcourt Brace to be used as setting copy for the American edition. A note near the end of the proofs indicates that Harcourt, Brace received this set by "3/10/27" (about one month after Woolf had received them from Clark). This penciled note was then erased, for reasons now unknown-perhaps the information was inaccurate.

Woolf, having sent one set of corrected proofs back to Clark and another on to Harcourt, Brace, then, apparently belatedly, became aware or remembered that a novel printed in octavo gatherings and containing 322 pages would entail a good deal of wastage in production-i.e. use of a whole sheet capable of holding sixteen pages in order to print just two pages, creating at the same time an awkward stitching problem for the binders by adding one loose leaf (two leaves if one were blank on both sides) at the end of the book. Woolf decided, or agreed, to shorten the book by two full pages, marking all the necessary changes in the second copy of proofs, gatherings S through U. At the same time she repeated (apparently from memory) a very few of the corrections of errors and revisions she had already marked in the first copy, and she introduced a few new revisions. Incidentally, an editor at Harcourt, Brace had from the beginning noted the problem of a book ending on page 322, for he penciled an instruction to the compositors at the top of the very first page of text in the proofs (p 11): "Cast off before paging to make sure book does not make more than 320 pp." As it happened, the American edition, printed in slightly smaller type than the English edition, ended on page 310.

A note on the partial proofs page 305 (beginning of gathering U) indicates that the second copy was received by Harcourt Brace on 3/16/27. An editor at Harcourt Brace, using a black pencil or possibly black ink, copied Woolf's new changes on to the first copy, which was then used to set type for the American Edition.

British First Edition

The text of this edition reflects the printed text of the surviving proofs with the addition of corrections marked on the copy, which no longer exists, sent back to R. and R. Clark, as described above. Its text differs slightly, but sometimes significantly, from that of the American edition.

These differences are our only clues about what Woolf might have inscribed on the proofs that were returned to Clark. The fact that Woolf and Clark had greater leisure for producing the British edition than did the Americans (see below) might mean that Woolf took more time over the English proofs than she had in preparing the copy sent to America. Some significant differences between the English and American edition can be traced directly to the proofs, though the exact nature of the proofs sent back to Clark cannot be fully known (see section III, below).

American First Edition

The text of this edition resulted from the surviving corrected proofs described above. The differences between the first English and first American editions came about in part because the corrected proofs sent back to R. and R. Clark and those sent to America were not identically marked by Woolf or because the printers interpreted her markings differently, and in part from the fact that the American edition is a complete resetting of type, which inevitably introduced changes, some of them having do with spelling and punctuation conventions being different in the two countries.

Complicating the schedule somewhat was a provision in American copyright law that stipulated that books by foreign authors could receive copyright protection in the United States only if the book was both typeset in the US and published first in the US. The British edition was already typeset and proofs pulled by 12 February 1927. The American publisher did not receive setting copy until nearly a month later on 10 March. So, there was greater urgency to get the American production underway and accelerated so that both editions would be ready for publication with a barely legal priority in America on 5 May, thus qualifying for US copyright protection.

All subsequent printings and re-issues of the American Edition from Harcourt, Brace have used the original typesetting without introducing new changes, except that some type-batter in the use of stereotyped places is visible and some minor deletions have occurred (such as the number one at the beginning of the first section) apparently in the process of creating photo-offset plates.

Uniform Edition

The Uniform edition (1930) is, bibliographically, not a true new edition, for it was printed from the same type-setting (probably stereotyped plates) used for the first English edition but revised here and there by Woolf and altered locally by R. and R. Clark9. The process for altering stereotyped plates was common practice but difficult enough to be used sparingly. In spite of these few changes it is more proper to refer to the Uniform edition as the fourth impression of the first English edition. It was, however, marketed as a new edition: besides its few revisions, it initiated a new series of impressions with a new dust jacket, in a smaller overall size (that is, narrower margins; the type-pages were of course the same size), and on thinner paper-all of which, in the eyes of the publisher, could justify the claim of being a new edition. On this website, we provide images of the 1932 reprinting -- the sixth impression of the first edition and the third impression issued as the Uniform Edition.

Albatross Edition

This edition (1932) was newly typeset in Verona Italy from a copy of the first British edition--either a marked up copy of an early printing or a copy of the Uniform edition printing. Albatross incorporates most but not all of the changes introduced in 1930 for the Uniform edition. A copy of the contract between the Hogarth Press and Albatross in the Berg Collection at the NYPL is reproduced here. The setting copy was apparently obtained by Albatross from Woolf or from the Hogarth Press, apparently at the time of signing the contract. This seems the best explanation for why the Albatross text conforms largely but not completely with the text of the Uniform edition.

Everyman Edition

J. M. Dent published the edition (1938) under contract with the Hogarth Press, though the contract seems not to have survived. The work was set entirely in new type but without revisions. The minor changes introduced by printers are recorded in the collation of variant texts.

III. Interpreting the documents to establish how the work was done

The order in which the two surviving sets of proof were marked and sent to America is clear, as explained above; the order in which Woolf inscribed her corrections and revisions in the two sets of proofs, one for America and one to return to R. and R. Clark, can only be guessed because the latter is no longer extant. However, the importance of that process lies in its ability to explain why the texts of the English and American editions differ and to hint at whether the differences were deliberately planned by Woolf or if one edition represents Woolf's more developed intention for the text.

The evidence consists of

  • 1) the full surviving copy of proofs and the partial second copy of proofs of the first British edition, which were used as setting copy for the American edition;
  • 2) the two published editions, British and American; and
  • 3) a letter to Vita Sackville-West dated February 18 1927: "I'm correcting proofs of the Lighthouse"; [added to the same letter on Feb 21st] "and laboriously correcting two sets of proofs. . . .I go on crossing out commas and putting in semi-colons in a state of marmoreal despair. I suppose there may be half a paragraph somewhere worth reading: but I doubt it."
  • 4) Susan Dick, in her Shakespeare Head edition of the novel, cites an unpublished letter from Woolf to Donald Brace with which she enclosed "a proof which contains some alterations on pages 286-7-8-9, 290" (Dick xxxvi, note 24).
  • 5) In a second, undated, letter to Brace cited by Dick, Woolf wrote that she was sending "final pages of To the Lighthouse. I have made some further corrections, and should be much obliged if you would have them carried out" (ibid.).

When in the letter to Sackville-West she says "two sets of proofs," she is probably referring to one copy for America and one copy for the British printer. We do not know how or when Woolf got a third copy of gatherings S - U on which to indicate the deletions intended to shorten the book. In fact, she must also have had a fourth copy of gatherings S - U to send back to R. and R. Clark. The letters to Donald Brace and markings on the proofs support the idea that Woolf sent a second batch of corrected proof for the end of the book and that the corrections on the second batch of proofs were transferred to the first set by an editor at Harcourt Brace.

We also do not know for sure how Woolf worked with the two sets of proof. Possibly she worked on both copies simultaneously, or she could have worked through one and then returned to the second copy and transferred corrections and revisions. Although she received proofs from Clark in batches of one, two, or three gatherings at a time (see the progressive time stamps on the proofs from January 31 through February 12-that is over 13 days), Woolf took three weeks to a month to correct the proofs, sending the last three gatherings to America in early March. A Harcourt, Brace editor noted, in pencil subsequently erased, that Harcourt had received the first copy of this last section of proof on March 10; and a note in pencil on the new proofs of that section states that they received the second copy on March 16. The only things that are absolutely clear are that by mid-February, Woolf had the whole book in proofs before her, and that by March 10 Harcourt Brace received that final batch of copy.

Regardless of whether Woolf revised proofs one page at a time, transferring corrections to the next copy, or whether she worked her way through one copy and then returned to copy the changes into the second copy--either way the chance that both copies ended identically marked is not high. Having finished revising each batch, including, in the last batch through page 322, she sent one copy off to America, and the other back to Clark. Upon receiving the last batch, Clark must immediately have reminded her that she needed to cut two pages of text to make the book end on page 320 or less-perhaps they sent the last three gatherings back to her for shortening, and perhaps, at the same time, they sent her an additional copy of gatherings S - U for her to mark and send to America. In this proof-reading effort Woolf concentrated on deletions, sporadically reinserting revisions she had already marked in the first copy of proofs, and sent the second set of gatherings S-U to America. When this second copy of proofs for the ending reached America, an editor at Harcourt Brace copied the changes into the original copy.

Notably, it was not required that Woolf send the second marked set of proofs (S - U) to Harcourt, for that edition ended well before page 320. The impetus for cutting two pages was R. and R. Clark's need to finish the novel on page 320. Although the American edition was also printed in octavo form with 16 pages per gathering,10 it was set in smaller type, giving the American edition more leeway. It now ends on page 310. We can conclude, therefore, either that Woolf did not know length would not be a problem in the American edition or, more likely, that she really did want both editions to be the same, or nearly so.

The Significance of Differences between the English and American Editions

In the case of the final paragraph of section I, "The Window," one can apply two kinds of sequence logic and come up with the same opinion.11 At issue is the question, does "The Window" end with Mr. Ramsay knowing or with Mrs. Ramsay triumphing again? Does it end

For she had triumphed again. She had not said it; yet he knew.

as in the American edition. Or

but he knew it. And she looked at him smiling. For she had triumphed again.

as in the English Edition?

One line of thought is physical: Woolf added in ink the sentence (She had not said it; yet he knew.) below the final paragraph of the section in the surviving proofs sent to America but made no other marks on that page (i.e., no specific indication of where the sentence should go). We do not know where or how she inscribed the very similar sentence on the other set of proofs for R. and R. Clark, but for Clark she also crossed out a phrase in line 2 of the paragraph (You won't be able to go.) and possibly drew a line from the sentence she had added, indicating its insertion after "to-morrow." In that case, the English edition represents a progressive "improvement" over the American edition because it has additional revisions. The American edition may not be "wrong"; but it is less thoroughly revised.

The second line of thought is semantic: The version as it appears in the American edition, which is a faithful rendering of the corrected proofs from which it is set, is both repetitious and confusing-it is not necessary to repeat "You won't be able to go." And the final placement of "she had not said it; yet he knew" leaves one wondering whether what she had not said was that they could not go or that she loved Mr. Ramsay. This leads to the conclusion that the addition of the sentence in the proofs sent to America had an inadvertent, rather than intentional, effect, which Woolf was unable to fix because the proofs had already been sent to America and because she did not get to read proofs of the American edition.

Another difference between the American and English editions occurs on page 296 in the American edition and page 306 in the English edition. The apparent source of the discrepancy is on page 308 of the first copy of proofs. In the paragraph beginning "But it would be a mistake," Woolf had first deleted and then reinstated two passages ("blinds fluttering" and "She had met Paul Rayley like that one day on the stairs."-shown in red below).Having deleted the first phrase, she replaced it with "plates whizzing" then changed her mind, cancelled the addition, and reinstated "blinds fluttering." Having deleted the second, longer passage, Woolf inserted in the margin the words: "It had been an earwig, apparently. Other people might find centipedes. They had laughed & laughed."-(added in green, below) and Woolf placed a caret at the end of the deleted sentence to indicate that the marginal passage was a substitution. She then, however, reinstated the cancelled sentence, left the marginal addition as it was, and cancelled a much longer passage ending the paragraph. The American edition follows these instructions and reads:

Then all through the house there would be a sense of doors
slamming and blinds fluttering, as if a gusty wind
were blowing and people scudded about trying in a
hasty way to fasten hatches and make things ship-
shape. She had met Paul Rayley like that one day
on the stairs
. It had been an earwig, apparently.
Other people might find centipedes. They had
laughed and laughed.

The instructions on the proofs that went back to Clark for the English edition were either different or were interpreted differently because, although the deleted phrase and deleted sentence are reinstated (or were never cancelled), the marginal addition did not make it into the English text. It is probable that Woolf revised this page for Clark without reference to the changes she had made for Harcourt, Brace, because in addition to other differences, she changed 'cup' to 'milk' and 'looking with round eyes.' to 'in his milk' for the English edition alone. Furthermore, the long passage ending the paragraph partially remains in the English text (in blue below) which, as published, reads:

Then all through the house there would be a sense of
doors slamming and blinds fluttering as if a
gusty wind were blowing and people scudded
about trying in a hasty way to fasten hatches
and make things shipshape. She had met Paul

Rayley like that one day on the stairs. They had
laughed and laughed, like a couple of children,
all because Mr. Ramsay, finding an earwig in his
milk at breakfast had sent the whole thing flying
through the air on to the terrace outside. "An
earwig," Prue murmured, awestruck, "in his
milk." Other people might find centipedes.
But he had built round him such a fence of
sanctity, and occupied the space with such a
demeanour of majesty that an earwig in his milk
was a monster.

The part of the paragraph that originally was set in type in the proof but is deleted from both the English and American editions, follows the word "monster." thus:

Later he met them outside his
study door, took them in, and showed them his
map of the Hebrides. It was a wonderful map.
He was charming, showing them his map. They
forgave him instantly, as indeed he expected to be

Did Woolf simply not cancel the passage from "They had laughed" through "monster" in the proofs for Harcourt, Brace? And did she simply not add the marginal passage in the proofs sent back to Clark for the English edition? These explanations seem more likely than that she marked both sets identically, but that the Clark printers failed to follow her instructions. And if she did mark the proofs differently, was it an oversight or did she mean for the two texts to be different? Why? The fact that this cancellation was made by Woolf in the first copy of proofs sent to America, indicates that it was not motivated by a desire to shorten the book. That motive received its implementation in the second copy sent later and was sufficiently addressed on pages 286-290. Finally, what, if any, significance can be attached to the fact that, when marking the second copy of proofs for the American edition, Woolf seems to have forgotten that she had deleted that long passage-at least she did not delete it again and, instead, made a couple of corrections in the passage.

Julia Briggs, who conceived of Woolf Online, remarked that "surprisingly little attention has been paid to [Woolf's] practice as a reviser of her own work. ... We need to know more about Woolf as a reviser, a role in which she reveals herself both as a modernist and a feminist, the author of a developing series of texts characterized by change, variation, difference, and the refusal to provide a definitive or final version" (Briggs 1999: 144). Woolf Online brings together all the extant materials relevant to such attention brought to bear on To the Lighthouse.

Recommended reading on textual issues:
  • Julia Briggs, "Between the Texts: Virginia Woolf's Acts of Revision." W. Speed Hill and Edward M. Burns. Eds. TEXT: An Interdisciplinary Annual of Textual Studies 12 (1999): 143-65.
  • Susan Dick, ed. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. The Shakespeare Head Press Edition of Virginia Woolf. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.
  • Hans Walter Gabler, "A Tale of Two Texts: Or, How One Might Edit Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse." Woolf Studies Annual 10 (2004): 1-29.
  • J. A. Lavin, "The First Editions of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse." In Joseph Katz, ed. Proof: The Yearbook of American Bibliographical and Textual Studies 2 (Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1972): 185-211.
  • Stella McNichol, ed. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. London: Penguin, 1992.
  • Brenda R. Silver, "Textual Criticism as Feminist Practice: Or, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Part II." In George Bornstein, ed. Representing Modernist Texts: Editing as Interpretation. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1991: 193-222.
Appendix: Detailed analysis of the Proofs

The evidence and reasoning for conclusions about the sequences for reading proofs, typesetting, and production are as follows: The copy of page proofs that contains all the gatherings was thoroughly marked in violet by Woolf for corrections and small changes but not marked by her for the large deletions required to reduce the book from 322 pages to 320. All of these larger deletions were made in pencil and black ink by an editor at Harcourt Brace who used Woolf's second copy of proofs from which to transfer the required adjustments to length. The second copy, containing only gatherings S, T, and U, is marked by Woolf only, not by Harcourt, Brace. It indicates all the large deletions and some short substitutions required to reduce the length of the novel and, from time to time, but not thoroughly, it also marked a few of the same corrections and revisions already noted in the first copy and added a few new revisions not present in the first copy-these were all transferred in black to the first copy by a Harcourt, Brace editor.

This sequence is not at once obvious. A note at the top of page 305 (first page of gathering U), in the partial set marked only by Woolf, ambiguously says "305-322 old copy-new copy rcd 3/16/27," indicating clearly enough that new copy was received by Harcourt Brace on "3/16/27" but not being clear as to whether the page written on was the old copy or the new. The changes marked by Woolf in this partial copy are consistent with changes required primarily to reduce the length of the book by two pages. Woolf indicated the necessary cuts on this "new" second copy of gathering S - U. A note at the top of the corresponding page of the first, full copy of proofs reads: "305-322-new copy rcd 3/16/27,"confirming the note in the second copy. The first, full copy of proofs also has a note at the bottom of the last page of gathering R (page 272), added in pencil and then erased, which reads, "pp 273-322 (End) rcd by [or rtd to] HB 3/10/27." The erasure makes it difficult to tell whether it says "rcd by" or "rtd to" Harcourt, Brace on 3/10/27, but either reading means the same thing: the three gatherings arrived at Harcourt, Brace on March 10. However, the fact that the note is erased might suggest that it was not accurate in the first place. Finally, at the top of page 273 (gathering S) of the partial set marked only by Woolf, the editor has penciled a note saying: "additional corrections on pp 286-91 transferred to first set" thus fulfilling Woolf's request that her latest changes be incorporated into the work (see the letters from Woolf to Donald Brace quoted above in section III).

The evidence of the corrections themselves on the two sets of proof corroborates the idea that the full copy of proofs was sent first and was ultimately used as setting copy for the American edition and that the three final gatherings were sent later and their additional changes were transferred by a Harcourt, Brace editor to the original proofs. First, the full set is the only one with editorial, design, and printers' marks. Second, the second proofs contain only a few of Woolf's corrections and revisions (for example, out of the many marks found in the first, full copy, on pages 273-285, only one on page 275 is repeated by her on the second copy of proofs). But on pages 286-90 the second copy has large deletions and brief bridge passages in Woolf's hand and violet ink; these changes were copied on to the full set of proofs in black ink by an American editor. Confirming this sequence is the fact that when, in the second, partial copy, Woolf deleted a long passage on page 288, she restored several lines by underlining the words and writing "stet" in the margin. The American editor, when copying deletion instructions into the full set, did not delete the passage that Woolf had first deleted and then restored. At twenty-eight lines a page, Woolf needed to cut fifty-six lines, all of which she accomplished on pages 286-290-the last three pages of gathering S and the first two of gathering T. However, in addition to these necessary deletions, Woolf made new revisions, for example on pages 318, 319, and 320, which the American editor also copied onto the first proofs.

  • 1. "The New Dress" was published in Forum in 1927; some of the stories were published posthumously by Leonard Woolf in A Haunted House and Other Stories (1944); others remained unpublished until Stella McNichols' collection Mrs. Dalloway's Party (1973). All are available in The Complete Shorter Fiction, ed. Susan Di
  • 2. See Nicola Luckhurst, Bloomsbury in Vogue. London: Cecil Woolf, 1998.
  • 3. Frederic William Maitland, The Life and Letters of Leslie Stephen. London: Duckworth, 1906
  • 4. Leslie Stephen, Sir Leslie Stephen's Mausoleum Book. Ed. Alan Bell. Oxford: Clarendon, 197
  • 5. James M. Haule, "'Le temps passe' and the Original Typescript: An Early Version of the 'Time Passes' section of To the Lighthouse." Twentieth Century Literature 29.3 (Fall 1983): 267-77
  • 6. Jane Marcus suggests that Woolf's publishing "part of an unfinished novel in France" was motivated by her desire "to gain the attention of French women writers and readers . . . and to place herself as a writer in relation to the powerful community of women artists in Paris in the twenties." Jane Marcus, Virginia Woolf and the Languages of Patriarchy (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987): 5
  • 7. For example, a holograph notebook dated 1909 sent by Leonard Woolf in 1968 to be transcribed remained in a drawer until the typist moved house early in the twenty-first century and it came to light. See David Bradshaw, ed. Carlyle's House and Other Sketches (London: Hesperus, 2003). And more recently, the Berg Collection acquired an uncorrected proof of A Room of One's Own containing significant variants. See Isaac Gewirtz,"'With Anger and Emphasis': The Proof Copy of A Room of One's Own." Woolf Studies Annual 17 (2011): 1- 76
  • 8. See, for example, Alison Scott, "'Tantalising Fragments': The Proofs of Virginia Woolf's Orlando." Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 88.3 (1994): 279-351, where over six hundred substantive changes in proof are recorded.
  • 9. The 1932 reprint of the Uniform edition, reproduced on the Woolfonline site, is textually identical to the 1930 printing.
  • 10. Note, however, that the American edition gatherings are not signed visibly in bound copies. Likely, the signature designation was indicated by an inked bar on the spine of each gathering, now hidden by the binding
  • 11. My reasoning and conclusions, though based entirely on an analysis of the documentary evidence, are very similar to those of Hans Walter Gabler, "A Tale of Two Texts: Or, How One Might Edit Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse." Woolf Studies Annual 10 (2004): 1-29.