Monday, 8 February 2010

I can't fight any longer

By the age of just 22, influential novelist Virginia Woolf had already suffered two nervous breakdowns—brought on, it’s believed, by the deaths of her mother and half-sister in quick succession, and then her father some years later. Unfortunately, the struggle didn’t end there for Virginia, and she fought off numerous bouts of depression throughout her lifetime, until the very end.

One evening in March of 1941, Virginia attempted to end her life by jumping into a river; however, she failed and simply returned home, sodden. Sadly, she persisted, and a few days later, on March 28th of 1941, she tried again and this time succeeded in escaping a lifetime of mental illness.

On the day of her death, unaware of her whereabouts, Virginia’s husband, Leonard, discovered this heartbreaking letter on their mantelpiece. Her body was found weeks later in the River Ouse, the pockets of her coat filled with heavy rocks.

Transcript follows.

(This letter, along with 124 other fascinating pieces of correspondence, can be found in the bestselling book, Letters of Note--reproduced by permission of the Estate of Virginia Woolf.)



I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.