Bella Woolf in the Gambia

I’m reviewing--have just reviewed--Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Leonard for the Virginia Woolf Miscellany.

There is a lot to like in the book. Leonard is a really interesting person and she lays out all the bits of him for you to think about. She never really lets the narrative run, however, so it’s often a little distracting or even frustrating. We can go for 50 pages without hearing about the Woolf’s cook and then suddenly “Louie” appears without any further explanation. I have to rack my brain to remember that she’s Woolf’s cook. What about other readers?

Here’s a bit, though, that I adored that needs no further introduction. Woolf’s charismatic older sister Bella was married to an officer in the British Empire and posted to the Gambia. She wrote to Leonard of her problems with the local Girl Guides:
I have to be very strict, very strict. Of course I can’t object to them wearing their uniforms at night to solicit men, because to them it’s a most glamourous dress. But I’ve had to put my foot down and tell them they must not give birth to their babies on the parade ground.