Many scenes have come & gone unwritten, since it is today the 4th Sept, a cold grey blowy day, made memorable by the sight of a kingfisher, & by my sense, waking early, of being again visited by “the spirit of delight.” “Rarely rarely comest thou, spirit of delight.” That was I singing this time last year; & sang so poignantly that I have never forgotten it, or my vision of a fin rising on a wide blank sea. No biographer could possibly guess this important fact about my life in the late summer of 1926: yet biographers pretend they know people.
– Virginia Woolf, Diaries, September 4, 1927
This quotation is perhaps only glancingly related to the general topic of happiness, but it’s very significant to my personal happiness. First, because September 4 is my wedding anniversary, it has special meaning; and also because when I was writing my second book, Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, and thinking constantly about the nature of biography, these lines had enormous influence on me. In fact, I used this quotation, along with my favorite quotation from Winston Churchill, to introduce the book.
It makes me happy to reread that paragraph, and to revisit what I was thinking about then.
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