52 Tavistock Sqre [W.C.1]

May 27th 1927

My dear Roger,

Thank you very much for your letter. I am immensely glad that you like the Lighthouse. Now I wish 
I had dedicated it to you. But when I read it over it seemed to me so bad that I couldn't face asking you. And 
then, as it happened, that very day, I met you somewhere,—was so overcome (did you guess it?) by your 
magnificence, splendour and purity (of intellect, not body) that I went home and was positive it was out of the 
question—dedicating such a book to such a man. Really therefore the not-dedication is a greater compliment
than the dedication would have been—But you shall have a private copy, if you'll accept it. What I meant was 
(but would not have said in print) that besides all your surpassing private virtues, you have I think kept me on the 
right path, so far as writing goes, more than anyone—if the right path it is.

I meant nothing by The Lighthouse. One has to have a central line down the middle of the book to hold
the design together. I saw that all sorts of feelings would accrue to this, but I refused to think them out, and 
trusted that people would make it the deposit for their own emotions—which they have done, one thinking it 
means one thing another another. I can't manage Symbolism except in this vague, generalised way. Whether its 
right or wrong I don't know, but directly I'm told what a thing means, it becomes hateful to me.

I did not consciously think of Nessa when I was doing Mrs Ramsay. In fact she and my mother seemed 
to me very different people. But no doubt something of Nessa leaked in. After all, my mother died when I was 
13, so that the idea must have been developed somehow. But the whole process of writing remains to me a 
complete mystery; the only thing I realise is that at last, for some reason, I am beginning to write easily, which 
may be a sign of decay, of course. I turn to your essays to find out; of course, some one has stolen them, some 
black-hearted devil. I was just saying to myself now I will read Roger through properly, and you're nowhere to 
be found. A starved young man—but I forget who—begged it of me one day—thats all I remember. So you must 
come back, and let us have an argument in person.

London is rather a grind—nice people and nasty people stuck together in bunches, so that one cant get 
at them separately but has to bolt them whole. I get a little bothered by the idiocy of most human intercourse,—
think I shall retire to Rome. But then there too one would be hooked in to the quarrels and loves of the detestable 
English. Clive is specially rampant at the moment, rolling in the pigsty after his three months abstinence, 
and rather a repulsive sight. Its an amazing recantation of all he said 3 months ago, but he's so outspoken and 
innocent in his queer way one can't object. Love is the only God, he says, and art and fame an illusion, which 
means, I suppose, that he intends to dine out at the Ivy with Mary every night of his life and never write a word. 
One sees the top of his bald head disappearing into the waves. I don't think Nessa will be able to fish him out this 

I've been lecturing at Oxford, and ran into a wave of Fry worship that was positively oppressive. The 
only intelligent young man came up and introduced himself as your friend—had met you in France—his name, 
I think, was Martin. Anyhow he sang a rhapsody about you, which I could not stop. Really Roger, if you go on 
like this they'll be making a Christ of you within a century. You're becoming a legend to the young. Of course 
its the only sort of fame worth having—I see that: but I'm a little alarmed at the size and luminosity of your halo. 
Then the girls rhapsodised about Margery—said Somerville was a different place: plants grow, love grows, 
learning grows—all due to Margery. Its time I set about the Fry memoir which I have it in my mind (as you 
Quakers say) to do before I die. Theres not much gossip: Lytton is out of love: Tom Eliot has buried a father in 
law at Bexhill: Dick and John Strachey are not drowned, but should have been. Marjorie's book is a pretty dismal 
affair: Bloomsbury shown up against the radiance of Jos's [Wedgwood] private parts—thats the plan of it—and 
how anyone can be such a fool as to think the mind dull compared with the body, Lord knows. I'm sure I live 
more gallons to the minute walking once round the square than all the stockbrokers in London caught in the act 
of copulation. As for you—but I've flattered you enough—and it isn't flattery: its sober truth, which makes it 
worse. Love to Helen.


Please tell Helen I had to stay at home and polish off the poem of a poet whose mother wished to see his work 
printed before she died. But not by us.