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Property Developers Want to Ruin Virginia Woolf's Famous Lighthouse

One of the most famous views in literary history is under threat after the local council granted permission for a new block of apartments.

by VICE Staff
Nov 11 2015, 3:45pm

Photo via Steve Fareham

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The lighthouse that inspired Virginia Woolf's classic modernist novel To the Lighthouse may soon disappear from view, if developers have their way.

As a child, Woolf spent her summers looking out at Godevry lighthouse from her family vacation home in Talland House, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, England, about 56 miles north of London. She used this experience to write her 1927 experimental masterpiece To the Lighthouse.

Until now, Woolf's legacy has been kept safe from gentrification, but this might soon be about to change. According to The Independent, the most famous literary lighthouse in history could be blocked from public view after the local council gave permission for developers to build a block of apartments in the bay.

The decision has been met with opposition from literary campaigners and members of Woolf's family. Speaking to The Independent, Maggie Humm, a professor of cultural studies at the University of East London, said, "This view from Talland House was the focus of Woolf's novel and visitors from around the world come to St. Ives specifically to view a key part of the town's history, heritage, and beauty."

A frequent commentator on social issues, Woolf's most famous essay, A Room of One's Own, talked about the importance of affordable social housing for women.

The Porthminster Beach View Ltd has been granted permission to build the block of apartments as long as they pay the council $206,000, in lieu of building affordable housing.