The Raverat Proofs

This is for Ana Maria who seems to enjoy this stuff as much as I do: I’m in L.A. on the second of three trips (I’ll go to London in August) to look at material surrounding the writing and publication of Mrs. Dalloway. This time, as at the Lilly in Bloomington, I’m looking at proofs. But these proofs were Woolf’s personal set. She sent them to her friend, the French artist Jacques Raverat, who was dying of an m.s.-like disease. (He did, in fact, die, before the novel was published but his wife, who was a Darwin, read the proofs to him.)

Woolf bound the proofs herself in Japanese block-printed paper with a stylized gingko-leaf motif. She pasted this paper on a thin cardboard, slightly sturdier than a manila folder. Sewed the pages together with red thread. The paper is a pale tan, the leaves are olive brown with eye-shaped cutouts in them that are filled, imperfectly and artistically, with red “eyes.” Woolf put the paper on sideways, to my eye, so the bulbous tops of the leaves point East, the stems, West. There is a small rectangle of the same paper, from the marking, pasted on the front cover (with the leaves running the opposite direction). Woolf has used the ¾ inch of margin to write “Mrs Dalloway” in her usual purple ink.

The title page is inscribed “Jacques/with love/from Virginia/6th Feb 1925.”