A sepia portrait of a teenage girl with bangs and hair pulled back, wearing a high-collared top and posing in front of a curtain.

Portrait photograph of Virginia Stephen

Transcript below

Francesca Wade: Woolf is about 13 in this picture. She looks slightly haunted. 

Brandon Taylor: Yeah, I find myself drawn to this wide-eyed and middle-distance gaze that she has going on. And yeah, she seems, I mean, it’s not quite sad. It is, as you say, haunted. Like she’s staring at something that the viewer cannot see. I’m also struck by how much she looks like herself in this photo and also not like herself. I think most people are accustomed to seeing her, that sort of older photo of her with her hair all beautiful, the sort of messy chignon situation.

Francesca Wade: Yeah, is that the Gisele Freund one when she’s got her dog with her? Probably why she looks a lot happier.

Brandon Taylor: Yes. And I’m struck by how similar the affect is to that photo, but also, she seems so young. I’m not used to seeing this young, vulnerable Virginia. 

Francesca Wade: Yeah, and I guess this part of her childhood was a time that she kind of came back through to throughout her life and even started… I mean, I think when she writes later about her childhood, it’s often about this very kind of stuffy, sort of very over-Victorian… I mean, you can see in her dress how Victorian she looks there.

Brandon Taylor: It’s so strange to imagine that this little girl will go on to create the template for what a modern mind even is. It’s astonishing.

End of Transcript