Alumna’s tribute to Virginia Woolf, former resident of Mecklenburgh Square
Goodenough College has one bedroom dedicated to Virginia Woolf (who lived in a house on the site of William Goodenough House). Each year the room is allocated to a literary student and they arrive to find a copy of "A room of one’s own" on their bedside table.
Alumna Naida Babic, who lived in the College in 2021, recently met up with College Director Alice Walpole and a number of friends for an informal ceremony to install a framed copy of one of her poems outside the room, next to Virginia Woolf’s commemorative plaque.
Naida explains: “I was living at Goodenough College while completing the last term of my MA Creative Writing programme at Birkbeck University, London. I wrote my poem In the Hand of Virginia during my poetry module, under the tuition of Steven Willey who is a brilliant teacher.
“When Alice Walpole, the College Director, saw my poem she asked if she could place it next to Virginia Woolf’s commemorative plaque. It was a huge honour for me so of course I agreed. However, I wanted it to be placed on either the date of Virginia Woolf’s birth or on the anniversary of her passing. Since my dad passed away this year in late January, and with the anniversary of Virginia’s death approaching, I felt ready to share my poem with the world.
“To mark the day (28 March) more fully, in remembrance of Virginia, I also wished to do something for Goodenough College Members. For that reason I got in touch with Maggie Humm, the professor and Vice-Chair of Virginia Woolf’s Society of Great Britain and asked her if she would like to give a lecture. Fortunately she agreed and she chose to give a lecture on ‘The Photography of the writer Virginia Woolf and her sister, the artist Vanessa Bell’. As an independent researcher I found her lecture enlightening, and I hope that the College Members who attended enjoyed it too.
“In regards to my fascination with Virginia Woolf I can say that it developed slowly. The first of her books that I read was Mrs Dalloway. I remember thinking how I loved her writing; her ability to transport the reader from one place to another with such ease and her mastery in painting the inner lives of her characters so vividly. These are only a few of the things that I like about her writing. I’ve found that my fascination with Virginia Woolf as a person is of a different kind and something that I’m still discovering while working on my first book, which is partially about her but also about me and the city of my dreams.”