Bell, an artist and fellow member of the Bloomsbury Group, had designed the dust jacket for the volume, and though Jacob’s Room does not carry a formal dedication, the collaboration between the sisters means it can be considered a dedication copy.
The third novel by Woolf, it presents the life of its protagonist ambiguously, through the impressions of other characters. It is described in the catalogue as a ‘literary rendering’ of Bell’s approach to portraiture.
The first edition was published in a run of 1200 copies and was the first full-length book to be produced by the Hogarth Press, which was run by the Woolfs, marking the moment it became a genuine business concern for them.
The exhibition was in preparation for over a year and brings together nearly 180 significant works by or about women. Other highlights include an autograph letter written by Mary Shelley, a second edition of Boccaccio’s 15th century collection of female biographies, and a privately compiled photobook from 1927 of Distinguished Women of the 19th Century.
The exhibition takes place in the Mayfair shop until March 15 and coincides with International Women’s Day on March 8.
Peter Harrington celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.