Virginia Woolf’s handwritten notebooks in which she penned Mrs Dalloway are being published as a facsimile manuscript for the first time by Parisian press SP Books.
Her draft for the classic novel was written between June 1923 and October 1924. It reveals substantial editing, re-writing and corrections, including her original intention to have Mrs Dalloway commit suicide.
The manuscript also includes an alternative opening describing the bells and temples of Westminster, which is revised in the second notebook to the famous line: “Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”
Notes show how Woolf hesitated on choosing between the book’s final title and its original name, The Hours.
Woolf’s signature purple ink, marginalia including word counts, personal memos and notes for her other essays are all included in the edition, published this month at £180 in 1,000 limited edition copies.
The edition will also feature essays from leading Woolf expert Helen Wussow and Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours (Fourth Estate).
SP Books said the notebooks showed how the novel, originally intended to be a narrative about the capital after the First World War develops into the parallel lives of Clarissa and Septimus “in a London at once restored to itself and irrevocably changed by the war”.