Mrs Dalloway by

Imperial green edition,
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"Mrs Dalloway said she would
buy the flowers herself"

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‘The Hours’: Virginia Woolf’s manuscript of Mrs Dalloway

Mrs Dalloway book and slipcase

The hours hanwritten title

Nearly a hundred years ago, between June 1923 and October 1924, Virginia Woolf wrote in three notebooks, which she entitled ‘The Hours’, the only complete draft of what was to become Mrs Dalloway. Published in 1925, Mrs Dalloway was her fourth novel. It is now considered to be one of her greatest books.

This is the first time that manuscript has been reproduced, offering the reader a rare insight into Virginia Woolf’s creative process among other things through the fluctuating intensity of the purple ink she favoured. It is introduced by two essays written by the Virginia Woolf specialist Helen Wussow and the Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Michael Cunningham.

Mrs Dalloway: first opening on the first page of notebook one

Virginia Woolf’s first and only full-length draft of Mrs Dalloway

This volume reproduces Virginia Woolf’s first and only full-length draft of Mrs Dalloway, with all her deletions, insertions and notes. It reveals her hesitation between two possible titles – ‘The Hours’ and ‘Mrs Dalloway’, the latter finally imposing itself in notebook 3 – as well as a different opening from the one well-know today. It is only in the second notebook that she settles for the now famous ‘Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself […].’ Indeed, she sometimes rewrote passages several times throughout the notebooks.

Mrs dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself

An important feature of the manuscript are the pencil margins she drew on the pages of the notebooks and in which she noted the dates of writing, word-counts and made many insertions. She wrote mainly in the purple ink she preferred for her manuscripts and, sometimes, in black or even blue. Of particular interest is the observation of this note Virginia Woolf seems to have written for herself at the top of the second page of the second notebook: ‘A delicous idea comes to me that I will write anything I want to write.’

Mrs dollowy: first page of notebook two (manuscript)

From ‘The Hours’ to Mrs Dalloway

The character of Mrs Dalloway had already made an appearence in Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out, published in 1915.She further developed the character in a short story, Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street, published in 1923 and in a diary entry for October 1922, she had noted that she was planning to write a novel about ‘Mrs Dalloway seeing the truth’. In this version, her heroine was supposed to commit suicide. But in the notebooks, Woolf develops another character – Septimus Smith – in such a way that it is he who commits suicide instead of Clarissa Dalloway.

She began the first notebook on 27 June 1923 and by 15 October 1923, she had written the hundredth page. The same day, she notes in her diary: ‘The doubtful point is, I think, the character of Mrs Dalloway. It may be too stiff, too glittering and tinselly.’ A little less than a year later, in September 1924, she had almost finished her novel: ‘There I am now – at last at the party. […] Now I do think this might be the best of my endings.’ The novel was published in 1925, simultaneously in England and in the United States.

virginia woolf: manuscript and cover

Two essays by Michael Cunningham and Helen Wussow

Mrs Dalloway (briefly known as ‘The Hours’) would be Virginia Woolf’s first indisputably great book.’ Michael Cunningham is an American novelist and screenwriter. In 1998, he published The Hours (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1999) based on the life of Virginia Woolf and inspired by Mrs Dalloway. It was adapted for a film by Stephen Daldry in 2002.

‘Within the stitched notebooks of ‘The Hours’ are the narratives that are woven into the whole cloth of Mrs Dalloway’. Helen Wussow is a dean at The New School, New York, and a Virginia Woolf specialist. She published an edited transcription of ‘The Hours’ entitled Virginia Woolf ‘The Hours’: The British Museum Manuscript of Mrs Dalloway’ (New York: Pace UP, 1996).

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Virginia Woolf's signature

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Thanks to a new reproduction of the only full draft of Mrs. Dalloway, handwritten in three notebooks and initially titled “The Hours,” we now know that the story she completed — about a day in the life of a London housewife planning a dinner party — was a far cry from the one she’d set out to write (...)


The original hand-written manuscript of Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway is to be published for the first time, revealing numerous changes the author, pictured, made to one of her most famous works. (...)


Mrs Dalloway by Parisian publisher SP Books brings together Virginia Woolf's three handwritten notebooks in which she wrote the classic text in one luxury hand-bound edition. The volume represents a return to 'slow reading' in a digital age, offering an intimate insight into the wnter's mind and thought-process, and giving new life to a well-loved classic (...)


Virginia Woolf’s handwritten notebooks in which she penned Mrs Dalloway are being published as a facsimile manuscript for the first time by Parisian press SP Books. Her draft for the classic novel was written between June 1923 and October 1924. It reveals substantial editing, re-writing and corrections, including her original intention to have Mrs Dalloway commit suicide. (...)


The draft, which was penned in purple ink in three notebooks between June 1923 and October 1924, shows she changed the title from the original name The Hours and also altered the first sentence to eventually read: “Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”
It shows the pencil margin she drew on each page of the notebooks, in which she recorded the date, word count and personal memos and notes for her essays. (...)


The manuscript shows the pencil margin she drew on each page of the notebooks, in which she recorded the date, word count and personal memos and notes for her essays. (...)


The volume represents a return to ‘slow reading’ in a digital age, offering an intimate insight into the writer’s mind and thought-process, and giving new life to a well loved classic. (...)


A new edition of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway released in handwritten manuscript form for the first time by independent Parisian publishers SP Books.  (...)


“There are few authors as influential and interesting as Virginia Woolf, and the recent release by SP Books presents a new reason to delve back into the acclaimed author’s handwriting.” (...)


“SP Books is publishing this month the first and only full-length draft of Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, bringing together a facsimile manuscript of the three notebooks in which she drafted, edited, re-wrote and corrected the novel.” (...)

Absolutely Stunning

This perfectly constructed copy of the manuscript of Mrs. Dalloway (The Hours) is stunning and perfect. You can see the time and skill that was put into to reproducing such a copy. The pages smell wonderful and have a distinct feel to them. Very high quality!

Great book

This is such a beautiful book. I've just ordered my copy. I am very excited.

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