The Man who Loved his Kind

tutorial, critical comment, plot, and study resources

The Man who Loved his Kind is one of a number of short stories by Virginia Woolf set at a party in the Westminster home of Richard and Clarissa Dalloway, the hosts of the central social event in her novel Mrs Dalloway (1925). The story was first published in A Haunted House (1944) and then later reprinted with the collection of stories and sketches Mrs Dalloway’s Party published by the Hogarth Press in London in 1973.


The Man who Loved his Kind

Queen Anne’s Gate – Westminster


The Man who Loved his Kind – critical commentary

This is one of a number of stories featuring social embarrassment, abject failures in communication, and crass egotism, bad faith, and self-absorption at the Dalloways’ party. Other stories in this category include The Introduction, Happiness, and The New Dress.

Prickett Ellis turns his own social unease and ill feelings to others into a cascade of bad faith and he descends into a vortex of maudlin self-regard.

Richard Dalloway, as a more urbane and sophisticated person that his old school friend, tries to oil the social wheels by introducing him to Miss O’Keefe. But unfortunately she is as rampantly insensitive and self-obsessed as Prickett Ellis himself – so it is no surprise that Dalloway’s encouraging gesture comes to nought.

In fact the story was originally entitled Lovers of their Kind, the plural form emphasising the symmetry of social failure on both Prickett Ellis’s and Miss O’Keefe’s part.


The Man who Loved his Kind – story synopsis

Prickett Ellis, a middle-aged solicitor, is invited to a party by his old school friend Richard Dalloway. He doesn’t really like parties, and has to borrow a dress suit to attend. He knows nobody at the party and feels a hostile resentment towards the other guests. He comforts himself with the memory that earlier in the day two of his clients have presented him with a clock. He compliments himself on being a plain, hardworking man of the people; he feels that he cannot afford luxuries; and he despises the people in the room who are able to do so. He feels choked by a sense of his own ‘goodness’ because he is not able to make other people aware of it.

The host Richard Dalloway then introduces him to Miss O’Keefe, who is rather haughty and full of her own sense of unspecific anger against the world. Ellis tells her why he disapproves of such events, and he wants to tell her about the clock, but she prevents this by attempting to engage him in cultural conversation. When this exchange fails miserably, she appeals to his appreciating the sense of beauty in the summer evening. He rejects the very idea of beauty, and instead tells her his story of the clock. She is shocked by his self-centredness. When he self-righteously claims that he loves ‘his own kind’, she claims the same thing. This contretemps makes both of them feel worse than ever – so they leave the party.


Study resources

The Man who Loved his Kind The Complete Shorter Fiction – Vintage Classics – Amazon UK

The Man who Loved his Kind The Complete Shorter Fiction – Vintage Classics – Amazon US

The Man who Loved his Kind The Complete Shorter Fiction – Harcourt edition – Amazon UK

The Man who Loved his Kind The Complete Shorter Fiction – Harcourt edition – Amazon US

The Man who Loved his Kind Monday or Tuesday and Other Stories – Gutenberg.org

The Man who Loved his Kind Kew Gardens and Other Stories – Hogarth reprint – Amazon UK

The Man who Loved his Kind Kew Gardens and Other Stories – Hogarth reprint – Amazon US

The Man who Loved his Kind The Mark on the Wall – Oxford World Classics edition – Amazon UK

The Man who Loved his Kind The Mark on the Wall – Oxford World Classics edition – Amazon US

The Man who Loved his Kind The Complete Works of Virginia Woolf – Kindle edition

Red button The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf – Amazon UK

Red button Virginia Woolf – Authors in Context – Amazon UK

Red button The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf – Amazon UK


The Man who Loved his Kind – characters
Richard Dalloway Clarissa Dalloway’s husband, an MP
Prickett Ellis a middle-aged bachelor and solicitor
Miss O’Keefe a spinster

Further reading

Red button Quentin Bell. Virginia Woolf: A Biography. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972.

Red button Hermione Lee. Virginia Woolf. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

Red button Nicholas Marsh. Virginia Woolf, the Novels. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Red button John Mepham, Virginia Woolf. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.

Red button Natalya Reinhold, ed. Woolf Across Cultures. New York: Pace University Press, 2004.

Red button Michael Rosenthal, Virginia Woolf: A Critical Study. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.

Red button Susan Sellers, The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Red button Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader. New York: Harvest Books, 2002.

Red button Alex Zwerdling, Virginia Woolf and the Real World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.


Other works by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf To the LighthouseTo the Lighthouse (1927) is the second of the twin jewels in the crown of her late experimental phase. It is concerned with the passage of time, the nature of human consciousness, and the process of artistic creativity. Woolf substitutes symbolism and poetic prose for any notion of plot, and the novel is composed as a tryptich of three almost static scenes – during the second of which the principal character Mrs Ramsay dies – literally within a parenthesis. The writing is lyrical and philosophical at the same time. Many critics see this as her greatest achievement, and Woolf herself realised that with this book she was taking the novel form into hitherto unknown territory.
Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse Buy the book at Amazon UK
Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse Buy the book at Amazon US

 

Virginia Woolf OrlandoOrlando (1928) is one of her lesser-known novels, although it’s critical reputation has risen in recent years. It’s a delightful fantasy which features a character who changes sex part-way through the book – and lives from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. Using this device (which turns out to be strangely credible) Woolf explores issues of gender and identity as her hero-heroine moves through a variety of lives and personal adventures. Orlando starts out as an emissary to the Court of St James, lives through friendships with Swift and Alexander Pope, and ends up motoring through the west end of London on a shopping expedition in the 1920s. The character is loosely based on Vita Sackville-West, who at one time was Woolf’s lover. The novel itself was described by Nigel Nicolson (Sackville-West’s son) as ‘the longest and most charming love-letter in literature’.
Virginia Woolf - Orlando Buy the book at Amazon UK
Virginia Woolf - Orlando Buy the book at Amazon US
 


Virginia Woolf: BiographyVirginia Woolf is a readable and well illustrated biography by John Lehmann, who at one point worked as her assistant and business partner at the Hogarth Press. It is described by the blurb as ‘A critical biography of Virginia Woolf containing illustrations that are a record of the Bloomsbury Group and the literary and artistic world that surrounded a writer who is immensely popular today’. This is an attractive and very accessible introduction to the subject which has been very popular with readers ever since it was first published..
Virginia Woolf - A Biography Buy the book at Amazon UK
Virginia Woolf - A Biography Buy the book at Amazon US


Virginia Woolf – web links

Red button Virginia Woolf at Mantex
Biographical notes, study guides to the major works, book reviews, studies of the short stories, bibliographies, web links, study resources.

Virginia Woolf web links Blogging Woolf
Book reviews, Bloomsbury related issues, links, study resources, news of conferences, exhibitions, and events, regularly updated.

Virginia Woolf web links Virginia Woolf at Wikipedia
Full biography, social background, interpretation of her work, fiction and non-fiction publications, photograph albumns, list of biographies, and external web links

Virginia Woolf web links Virginia Woolf at Gutenberg
Selected eTexts of her novels and stories in a variety of digital formats.

Virginia Woolf web links Woolf Online
An electronic edition and commentary on To the Lighthouse with notes on its composition, revisions, and printing – plus relevant extracts from the diaries, essays, and letters.

Virginia Woolf web links Hyper-Concordance to Virginia Woolf
Search texts of all the major novels and essays, word by word – locate quotations, references, and individual terms

Virginia Woolf web links Orlando – Sally Potter’s film archive
The text and film script, production notes, casting, locations, set designs, publicity photos, video clips, costume designs, and interviews.

Virginia Woolf web links Women’s History Walk in Bloomsbury
Tour of literary and political homes in Bloomsbury – including Gordon Square, Gower Street, Bedford Square, Tavistock Square, plus links to women’s history web sites.

Virginia Woolf web links Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain
Bulletins of events, annual lectures, society publications, and extensive links to Woolf and Bloomsbury related web sites

Virginia Woolf web links BBC Audio Essay – A Eulogy to Words
Charming sound recording of radio talk given by Virginia Woolf in 1937 – a podcast accompanied by a slideshow of photographs.

Virginia Woolf web links A Family Photograph Albumn
Leslie Stephen compiled a photograph album and wrote an epistolary memoir, known as the “Mausoleum Book,” to mourn the death of his wife, Julia, in 1895 – an archive at Smith College – Massachusetts

Virginia Woolf web links Virginia Woolf first editions
Hogarth Press book jacket covers of the first editions of Woolf’s novels, essays, and stories – largely designed by her sister, Vanessa Bell.

Virginia Woolf web links Virginia Woolf – on video
Biographical studies and documentary videos with comments on Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group and the social background of their times.

Virginia Woolf web links Virginia Woolf Miscellany
An archive of academic journal essays 2003—2014, featuring news items, book reviews, and full length studies.

© Roy Johnson 2014


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