Discovering context with Mrs Dalloway


While distributing Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway with my Advanced HSC English class today, we were discussing the last time a student had actually recorded their name on the inside cover – which happened to be 1972. According to the pencil note on the top right hand corner, the cost of each novel was 80c. The notion of ‘modern classic’ fed into our examination of the rubric and understanding of ‘context’. We had already read, highlighted and noted synonyms for key terms in the rubric for Module A: Comparative Study of Texts and Context – Elective 1: Intertextual Connections.

As I checked the condition of each novel, I discovered a bookmark


which led to a deeper exploration of context. We came to understand the importance of artefacts in determining cultural values from different eras – 1972 being a reasonable mid-point between Mrs Dalloway and The Hours (which was released in 2002 and based upon the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Michael Cunningham).



I shared anecdotes from the seventies and my recall of different songs, bands, and the thrill of saving up my pocket money to buy a vinyl single. We thought of the technological change between Woolf’s context and the world of Daldry: am and fm radio as an obvious example.




Seeing T-Rex’s Metal Guru at #39 made a link with Billy Elliot which I mentioned.  A very entertaining end to a hot and humid double period.

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