[Vwoolf] Monks? Monk's?

Bryony Randall Bryony.Randall at glasgow.ac.uk
Tue Feb 18 05:40:12 EST 2020

As it happens, I've recently retranscribed the typescript, with holograph corrections, of this story from the photocopy of the original held in the British Library (the original having apparently gone awol, but that's another story) and Monks does indeed appear there without an apostrophe.



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Dr Bryony Randall
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'It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses.' Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

From: Vwoolf <vwoolf-bounces at lists.osu.edu> on behalf of Mark Scott via Vwoolf <vwoolf at lists.osu.edu>
Sent: 17 February 2020 19:38
To: Stuart N. Clarke <stuart.n.clarke at btinternet.com>; vwoolf at lists.service.ohio-state.edu <vwoolf at lists.service.ohio-state.edu>
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] Monks? Monk's?

For what it’s worth, there is a mention of the house in the short story ‘The Widow and the Parrot: A True Story’.  In the edition that I have of The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf edited by Susan Dick which is a first American edition, printed by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and copyrighted 1985, the name appears with no apostrophe on page 160, ‘All the villagers were standing in a ring around the house handing buckets of water which were filled from the well in Monks House kitchen’.  The editorial note also gives the name with no apostrophe.  The house in the story is situated in the village of Rodmell and the origin of the story is from The Charleston Bulletin, the newspaper that Vanessa Bell’s children produced in the 1920s.  There are also other references that coincide with actual people who lived in the village of Rodmell.  I’m wondering if Monks House without the apostrophe was taken from an original manuscript or typescript or copy of The Charleston Bulletin or if it was an editorial choice on Ms. Dick’s part?

That story has always stuck in my head because Rodmell was used as a location and the name Monks house is used as well.  So I did a bit of non-scholarly research this morning.

Mark Scott
Common Reader

From: Stuart N. Clarke via Vwoolf
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2020 6:34 AM
To: vwoolf at lists.service.ohio-state.edu
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] Monks? Monk's?

In order to impose consistency in the “Virginia Woolf Bulletin”, we have gone for Monks.  If there ever had been monks – which there weren’t – there surely would have been more than one, and we know that Monks’ is definitely wrong.

I agree with Mark about the gate.  Notices, esp. those in caps, tend towards dropping punctuation as much as possible.

Take the Underground as an example: “As there is no such thing as an ‘official name’, it is impossible to be certain about the use of apostrophes, hyphens, brackets and the like, especially where, as is sometimes the case, the name of any particularly station at any particular time can appear differently on the station building, platform nameboards, timetables, maps and tickets.”

Rose, Douglas (2007), The London Underground: A Diagrammatic History, 8th edn, London: Douglas Rose


From: Mark Hussey via Vwoolf
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2020 1:52 PM
To: 'Danell Jones' ; vwoolf at lists.service.ohio-state.edu
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] Monks? Monk's?

A perennial question! Funnily enough, I just went through the ms of my biography of Clive Bell (forthcoming April 2021) and put in the apostrophe throughout because that is how it appears in a letter of Clive’s I quote. I have always thought either was acceptable, and I think VW herself uses both. I was never much swayed by the absence of the apostrophe on the gate as that seemed likely to have been an aesthetic rather than orthographic decision.

From: Vwoolf <vwoolf-bounces+mhussey=verizon.net at lists.osu.edu> On Behalf Of Danell Jones via Vwoolf
Sent: Saturday, February 15, 2020 1:57 PM
To: vwoolf at lists.osu.edu
Subject: [Vwoolf] Monks? Monk's?

So where are we with the spelling of Woolf’s Sussex cottage these days? Monk’s? Monks’? Monks? Does it matter?

I’m leaning toward Monks because that’s how its spelled on the gate of the house, not to mention Woolf’s own idiosyncratic disregard of apostrophes. .

That said, I believe she was not consistent about the spelling—to no one’s surprise, I’m sure.

Is there any consensus on this grave issue?


Danell Jones


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