Virginia Woolf, regarded as one of the foremost literary figures of the twentieth century, came to live in Blackheath for a few months in 1903.
The death of her mother some years previously had left her in a fragile mental state, but she was more concerned with her father’s health.
The family moved into Blatchfeld. In her letters to her great friend Violet Dickinson, she talks of her fears over her father’s health. This may be the reason Sir Leslie Stephen rented the house in Blackheath from Lady Florence Roberts Austen.
In one of her letters, she says ‘an old lady in Surrey in letting us her house. Where exactly I don’t know. We probably go if we come to terms on the 16th. Spring in the country is like a good clean bath’.
LETTER FROM VIRGINIA WOOLF TO HER FRIEND VIOLET DICKINSON
To Violet Dickinson
It seems fated that there’s no room for you, which is very depressing. I have got a double bed – some strange foresight made them give it to me-I wish you could come, but I shall see you somehow in London, or your house.
Surrey is a sham country. This place isn’t so bad as Hindhead, but is over run with cockneys and culture. Everyone artistic seems to retire here, and build a red brick house with sham Elizabethan white and black. However this house is better than that – three old cottages run together, and comfortable which is the main thing. The cold is rather bad. Father likes the place, though, and has a very comfortable room and sitting room to himself. But he can’t get out much and I don’t think he is better.
Shall you be in London anymore, or have you let your house, or what?
The cottage is a delight to think of, if only you don’t get tainted with death and sorrow, such as always cling to you, and make you a kind of walking hospital. Poor Sparroy will ask for a bed there soon.
Yr loving Sparroy