Persuasions #3, 1981                                                                                                                                            Page 8



Admirers of Virgina Woolf will recall that in 1911, before her marriage, she moved to 38 Brunswick Square. How near was her house, one wonders, to that of the John Knightleys? Virginia, like Isabella Knightley, was enthusiastic about the virtues of the Square. She said that it was like Paradise, and so quiet with a graveyard behind.

Mr. Woodhouse did not approve of London, and cannot have been aware of the graveyard, or he would have had even more serious objections to put forward against his daughter’s living there. Isabella, notwithstanding, was vigorous in her defence of the Square. “Our part of London is so very superior to most others! – You must not confound us with London in general, my dear sir. The neighbourhood of Brunswick Square is very different from almost all the rest. We are so very airy! I should be unwilling, I own, to live in any other part of the town; – there is hardly any other that I could be satisfied to have my children in: – but we are so remarkably airy!”

This past summer in England Joan Austen-Leigh was lunching at Cobbe Place with Quentin and Olivier Bell; Professor Bell told her the following story:

I was talking to David Garnett about Jane Austen – I rather think my sister was present … Garnett urged his view of Emma whom he considered a coldhearted snob. I replied that she was extremely kind to her tiresome old father. Garnett was for a moment floored by this but then replied,  ‘Well, we only have Jane Austen’s word for it.’” 

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