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Statue of Virginia Woolf by the Thames criticised for being insensitive


A statue of Virginia Woolf overlooking the Thames that was planned to honour her is being criticised for its insensitivity. The writer killed herself by drowning.

The author's memorial will be positioned on a park bench overlooking the river on Richmond riverside in southwest London. She was part of the influential Bloomsbury Group and is considered one of the 20th century's most influential authors, pioneering a non-linear approach to narrative.

She lived in the area for a decade. Woolf killed herself by drowning in the River Ouse near Lewes in East Sussex. People have raised concerns that the statue's proximity to the Thames will evoke the memories of her death, reported The Guardian.

Woolf lived in the area from 1914-1924. She and her husband founded Hogarth Press in 1917, and the only current memorial to Woolf in Richmond is an English Heritage blue plaque on Hogarth House.

Richmond council's environment, sustainability, culture and sports committee approved plans for the statue on Thursday. A local conservation group said that the positioning is in poor taste. They have suggested three alternative locations in Richmond, where she lived until 1924.

Woolf struggled with mental illness throughout her life. Barry May, the chair of the Richmond Society, said that it struck them as a little bit insensitive to have this statue and figure of Virginia Woolf seated on a bench gazing over the water because of the manner of her illness and eventually the way she died, reported The Guardian.

Charlotte Banks of Aurora Metro, the south-west London publishing house, said that the suggestions by the Richmond Council to change the location of the statue, which has been chosen for many practical reasons, comes across as an attempt to push people like her out of sight.

She added that the memorial's intention is to celebrate diverse lives and encourage conversations around mental health, feminism, sexuality and gender. "This cannot be done if the statue is tucked away on a residential street," he slammed.

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