Bust of Woolf in Tavistock Square, London.
‘You are not fighting to protect either myself or my country. For in fact, as a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world’
- Bombing Restriction Committee
- Challenging untruths
Thoughts on peace in an air raid
'It is a queer experience, lying in the dark and listening to the zoom of a hornet, which may at any moment sting you to death. It is a sound that interrupts cool and consecutive thinking about peace. Yet it is a sound far more than prayers and anthems that should compel one to think about peace. Unless we can think peace into existence we not this one body in this one bed but millions of bodies yet to be born will lie in the same darkness and hear the same death rattle overhead.’
Virginia Woolf, Thoughts on peace in an air raid (1940)
Virginia Woolf composed a brief essay in August 1940 during the Battle of Britain. The bombers in the night sky over London seem a world away from the buzzing of Predator drones over Pakistan, but there are genetic pathways between Woolf’s hornets and what the Pashtun now call the machay, the bees that have their own deadly sting. Daniel Swift, the author of Bomber County, a study of bombing during the Second World War, claims that ‘We live today in a world made by bombing; Britain and America still fight wars under the impression that they may be won from the skies, and today’s Predator drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan are the direct descendants of the Heinkels and Lancaster bombers of the Second World War.’ | read whole essay