[Vwoolf] bungalows and villas

Jeremy Hawthorn jeremy.hawthorn at ntnu.no
Wed Feb 26 07:21:54 EST 2020

Re the recent exchange about VW's view of bungalows. In /The Waves/ 
Neville says: "Alas! I could not ride about India in a sun helmet and 
return to a bungalow." I used to assume that he meant "retire to a 
bungalow in England," but Woolf doubtless knew that the word is of 
Indian (Hindi) origin, so the imagined bungalow is presumably in India 
not the home counties, and returned to not on retirement but at close of 

Another tricky dwelling term is "villa," a word that seems largely to 
have dropped out of (Real) Estate jargon in the UK, but that survives in 
many road names ("Riverside villas" etc etc). Again in /The Waves/, 
Jinny says "Look – all the windows of the villas and their white-tented 
curtains dance [. . .]. There are bowers and arbours in these villa 
gardens  and young men in shirt-sleeves on ladders trimming roses." I 
again used to think that these would be gardeners working for posh 
families: my Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary gives among other 
definitions: "a large house in a town" for "villa." The old SOED also 
gives "country house or farm, country mansion or residence . . . hence 
any residence of a superior type . . . such as is occupied by a person 
of the middle class," but it adds: "also any small better-class dwelling 
house, usu. one which is detached or semi-detached." I take it that this 
is what Jinny sees: the men in shirt-sleeves are middle-class 
owner-occupiers, not of large houses or country mansions, but of 
small(ish) houses with gardens. Right?

Jeremy Hawthorn
Emeritus Professor
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
7491 Trondheim

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