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Essays - Talland House by Marion Dell


Marion Dell

When they took Talland House father and mother gave us – me at any rate – what has been perennial, invaluable.1

Talland House is an elegant villa on the outskirts of St Ives in Cornwall. It was the Stephen family’s holiday home from 1881 until 1895. In 1882, the first summer they went there as a family, Vanessa was three years old and Virginia only a few months.

For the sisters, Virginia and Vanessa, their time living at Talland House and exploring St Ives and the countryside around it was a life-long source of personal pleasure, shared memories, and creative inspiration. Virginia fictionalised the house, her parents and their summers in St Ives in her famous novel To the Lighthouse, published by the Hogarth Press in 1927, for which Vanessa illustrated the dust jacket.

Talland House was never a grand house; its appeal lay in its location and in the free and relaxed way of life which they were able to pursue there. The lightness and space contrasted strongly with the confined darkness of their London house and the foggy gloom of London winters. It became a haunted, and a haunting, house embodying the ghosts of their childhood, which they were to remember for ever.


1. Virginia Woolf ‘A Sketch of the Past’ in ed. Jeanne Schulkind Moments of Being , (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1985) p128.