Books Magazine

Virginia Woolf Loves The Children

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

Virginia Woolf wrote a kid’s book.

Why does that strike me as incredibly strange? It’s like if Samuel L. Jackson voiced a kids’ book called Go The F**k To Sleep. Oh, wait a minute, he did.

Or it’s like if James Joyce wrote a kid’s book called The Cats of Copenhagen. Oh, wait a minute, he did.

I’m interested how Woolf adapted (or didn’t adapt) her normal, verbose style into working for a kid’s book.

Woolf’s book, titled Nurse Lugton’s Curtain, is “a lovely allegory about the whimsical wonderland we enter as we slip into sleep.”

Let’s take a look at a couple of passages:

The animals with which it was covered did not move till Nurse Lugton snored for the fifth time. One, two, three, four, five…ah, the old woman was at last asleep. The antelope nodded to the zebra, the giraffe bit through the leaf on the tree top, all the animals began to toss and prance.

It’s like Toy Story! But, instead of toys, it features animals drawn on curtains! And, amazingly, Woolf managed to avoid any dangling prepositions in that first sentence.

Then there’s this one:

Nobody harmed the lovely beasts, many pitied them, for it was well known that even the smallest monkey was enchanted. For a great ogress had them in her toils, the people knew, and the great ogress was called Lugton.

Isn’t that such lively copy for a kids book? Don’t answer that. How many clauses should one start with the word “for” in a kids book?

The watercolor drawings are much better than the copy, if you ask me.

Like this:


So now you know: Virginia Woolf wrote a kids book. And knowing is half the battle.

I think it would be great for bedtime reading.

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