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The Core Curriculum

To the Lighthouse, jacket design by Vanessa Bell, 1927

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To the Lighthouse, jacket design by Vanessa Bell, 1927.

"With a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre. It was done; it was finished. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision." (To the Lighthouse, III, p.209)

Virginia Woolf's older sister Vanessa Bell created this cover for the original printing of To the Lighthouse, which was published by Woolf's own Hogarth Press, run by her and her husband Leonard out of their London home. Bell created cover designs for all of Woolf's novels and stories, and was also a major figure in the Omega Workshops, an art and interior design collective centered around Bell's homes in Bloomsbury (London) and Charleston (Sussex). Woolf and Bell remained lifelong friends and collaborators; as Woolf later claimed, they had decided as children that Virginia would be a writer and Vanessa an artist -- and so they became.

Bell's image for the To the Lighthouse cover can be interpreted in many ways in relation to the novel, but especially as a representation of Lily Briscoe's own painting, completed with "a sudden intensity" in the work's final lines.


Image in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. 

Artistic Response
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