The Hogarth Press, 52 Tavistock Square, W.C.1
Sunday, Jan. 31st 1926

Look, I have stolen a piece of the press notepaper to write on, and it is Sunday morning about 
half past eleven, and I have written all I am going to write this morning. Now where are you? With Miss 
Gertrude Bell, I suppose. I suppose you are very happy, seeing things—lovely things. I dont know what Baghdad 
is like, so I won't tell you. Miss Bell has a very long nose: she is like an Aberdeen terrier; she is a masterful 
woman, has everyone under her thumb, and makes you feel a little inefficient. Still, she is extremely kind, and 
asks so and so to meet you, and you are very grateful to her—Enough of Gertrude Bell; now for Virginia. Shall I 
write the letter I made up in bed this morning? It was all about myself. I was wondering if I could explain how 
miserable I have been the past 4 days, and why I have been miserable. Thought about, one can gloss things over, 
bridge them, explain, excuse. Writing them down, they become more separate and disproportioned and so a little 
unreal—Only I found I had to write the lecture for the girl's school, and so had to stop writing To the 
Lighthouse. That began my misery; all my life seemed to be thwarted instantly: It was all sand and gravel; and 
yet I said, this is the truth, this guilty misery, and the other an illusion; and then, dearest, people began ringing 
me up to go to lunch and tea—I was asked to meet a Spaniard in Holloway, a Frenchman in Chelsea, and see an 
Italian dance in Soho. Why did this make me desperate? I said, I must go and meet Jacques Blanche, because he 
will tell me about Proust; and also Hilda Trevelyan [Blow] has left me no loophole of escape; but now I must 
buy a hat. And last week I sold 4 mattresses, and bought the cook new bedroom curtains. Now I must waste a 
whole afternoon and suffer sheer agony in shops again buying a hat. And then, there being no illusion in my 
soul, no water under my keel, I had to dine with Dadie [Rylands], and undergo a large vociferous Bloomsbury 
party—sitting outside, with glass between me and everybody; hearing them laugh; and seeing, as through a 
telescope, (she looked so remote and washed up on a rock,) poor Edith Sitwell in her brocade dress, sitting silent.

I cant tell you how intense my unhappiness has been, starting up in the night, and clenching my hands, 
all over going out to dinner, and buying a hat, and meeting Jacques Blanche! And I had to take a sleeping 
draught. Then, in the middle of these 4 days, I went to hear Tolstois daughter lecture on him and her mother. 
And Lytton came up and praised my article in the Criterion [On Being Ill] tremendously, which, as we never 
praise each other's writing now, did for the moment illumine me: and Desmond came up and praised it, and 
this did not much please me, for his mind is all torn up sheets of paper now—such a ragbag; and then Countess 
Tatiana spoke, and I hated us all, for being prosperous and comfortable; and wished to be a working woman, and 
wished to be able to excuse my life to Tolstoi. Not that it was a good lecture. It was quite dull. But seeing his 
daughter, a shabby little black old woman, a perfect lady, with his little eyes, excited me; and made the whole 
world inside my head spin round, and the tears come to my eyes—but this is what always happens to me when 
the disgusting and foetid story of the Tolstois married life is told me and by their daughter too. And also, in Hill 
Street, Berkeley Square to an audience which seemed to have cheeks of paté de foie gras and sables on their 
backs and nothing nothing left of humanity or emotion at all. "The ladies will know what it means to nurse 13 
children" said Tatiana: but I felt the ladies did not even know what it is to have monthly periods.

So I went off—with Mary in a taxi, as it happened. And Raymond came to dinner, and wanted me 
to meet Mrs Craigie, and I said I didn't want to meet the upper classes: I wanted to meet washerwomen, and 
shopkeepers. Of course, how was Raymond to know I had been spun round by Tolstoi? I seemed to him merely 
waspish and plaguy, making excuses, and sneering and laughing at his ladies. And what was at the back of it all 
was simply my not being able to get away off into my novel; my being pinned down tight to my lecture. I gave 
this at Hayes Common yesterday.

Do you by any chance remember Kent? After all, I did go down in Mary's [Hutchinson] motor, with 
Nessa and Duncan. It struck me then that part of my misery is not having you. Yes, I miss you, I miss you. I dare 
not expatiate, because you will say I am not stark, and cannot feel the things dumb people feel. You know that 
is rather rotten rot, my dear Vita. After all, what is a lovely phrase? One that has mopped up as much Truth as it 
can hold.

But this analysing reminds me of my lecture, which I am infinitely sick of—To explain different kinds 
of novels to children—to make little anecdotes out of it—that took me more time and trouble than to write 6 
Times leaders. But it was all right—60 nice children: a large Georgian country house; immense cedars; angular 
open minded school mistresses: a drive home in the dark with Nessa and Duncan, who pour out pure gaiety and 
pleasure in life, not brilliantly or sparklingly, but freely quietly luminously. And as we drove, I kept seeing the 
streets you drove me through: and thinking about you, and thinking how shy I had been of you; and then, when I 
rushed you, how you at once stepped out of that focus into another; and what distance shall we be at on Monday 
the 10th May [Vita's return]?