This is the advice I would give to Virginia Woolf
: Write them, but leave the binding to professionals
While this book isn't especially beautiful, it is fascinating. This copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables was bound (rebound, actually) by Virginia Woolf and given to her nephew Julian Bell.
As early as 1901, she took binding lessons from Sylvia Stebbing, who remembered Virginia as a "willowy girl with a Madonna-like face." Virginia suffered several nervous breakdowns and was possibly bipolar; the hands-on craft of book binding was therapeutic for her.
But not therapeutic enough.
Best known as the author of To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, and A Room of One's Own, Virginia and her husband, Leonard, also owned the Hogarth Press. Somewhat ironically, the Woolfs were the first publishers of Sigmund Freud in translation.
Virginia and Leonard are also remembered as part of the Bloomsbury Group — a circle of quasi-celebrity intellectuals who dominated the British artistic scene in the early 1900s.
Washington State University has a collection of books that once belonged to Virginia and Leonard, as well as other books bound by Virginia. Many of the books in the WSU Woolf collection had been part of the fabulous library Virginia's family enjoyed when she was young. The examples of Virginia's bookbinding show a loving — if not always aesthetically perfect — touch. I like to think that she would agree that her famous statement could be amended to read:
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. And she must have books.