It is a truth universally acknowledged that Virginia Woolf was a London writer. Typically, the first text that comes to mind when thinking about Woolf and the capital is Mrs Dalloway. Clarissa Dalloway’s now-iconic ramble through Westminster has taken on a life of its own: you can follow in her footsteps on one of the many London walking tours to experience the city as she would have on that glorious morning in mid-June – well, nearly.
As crucial as London is in Mrs Dalloway, it plays an equally significant role in Night and Day, Woolf’s critically maligned and largely forgotten second novel. Set in the Edwardian period, the text follows four principal characters – Katharine Hilbery, Mary Datchet, William Rodney and Ralph Denham – and their shifting romantic attachments, culminating in the unlikely union of Katharine, the granddaughter of the great Victorian poet Richard Alardyce, and the poor, middle-class Ralph. The emotional journey these two take over the course of the novel is, crucially, a spatial one, too, seeing as Woolf sets all the major scenes between them in suggestive London locations.
In lieu of a walking tour, take a virtual view of the romance plot as it weaves through the urban landscape, and reconstruct the emotional map of Night and Day in Google Earth.