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Visitors' book signed by Woolf is sold for £10,250

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 24, 2011

Virginia Woolf, whose signature helped a visitors' book sell for £10,250

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The visitors' book to a Cornwall lighthouse has sold for more than twice its estimate at auction, thanks to the childhood signature of one of its famous tourists.

The author Virginia Woolf visited Godrevy Lighthouse, near St Ives, as a small girl aged 10 in 1892. The structure and its landscape would go on to form the inspiration for one of her best known works, the acclaimed 1927 masterpiece To The Lighthouse.

The story is set in the Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland shortly before the First World War. But as a child Woolf regularly went on holiday with her family to Cornwall and her recollections are thought to have inspired the book.

The lighthouse's guestbook, complete with her signature under her birth name, Adeline Virginia Stephen, sold for £10,250 at Bonhams' Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs Sale in London.

It had been given an estimate of £3,000 to £5,000.

A Bonhams' spokesman said: "Although To The Lighthouse is set in the Hebrides, it draws entirely on the landscape around St Ives where the Stephen family spent their summers from 1882-1894.

"Godrevy Lighthouse is the lighthouse of the book's title and a central image in the novel. The 10-year-old Virginia first visited it on September 12, 1892, with her family, leaving her signature in the visitors' book.

"The Pre-Raphaelite painter, William Holman Hunt, was one of the party and the book also contains his signature.

"In 1894 the family repeated the trip, although on that occasion Leslie Stephen, Virginia's father, signed for them all."

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