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Mrs Dalloway. Episode one.

by Virginia Woolf.

 Dramatised for Radio 4, Classic Serial, in two episodes

 by Michelene Wandor.


Clarissa Dalloway
Richard Dalloway
Elizabeth Dalloway
Lucrezia Warren-Smith
Septimus Warren-Smith
Peter Walsh
Sally Seton
Miss Kilman
Hugh Whitbread
Lady Bruton
Dr Holmes
Sir William Bradshaw
Miss Brush
Mrs Walker
Miss Pym
Shop Assistant


(Music: Erik Satie: Gymnopedies)


CLARISSA (over)      A June morning in London. Soft blue grey air. I build my London around me, creating it every moment afresh. I am at peace in the midst of carriages and motor cars, omnibuses and vans. I am at ease among the triumph and the jingle, the shops and parks. In this moment of summer, there is a solemnity, a suspense, a hushed moment just before Big Ben strikes.

(Music continues, and Big Ben begins to strike eight o’clock.)


CLARISSA (over)                  Big Ben strikes, on a June morning in London. The leaden circles dissolve in the air

(Music fades, and Big Ben mixes into a silvery clock in dining room. Breakfast)


CLARISSA                 Richard.

(Newspaper rustle.)

RICHARD                  Yes, Clarissa?

CLARISSA                 I want to ask you something.

RICHARD                  What, my dear?

CLARISSA                 Do you think we should have ices?

RICHARD                  For breakfast?

CLARISSA                 No, no. Shall we have ices tonight?

RICHARD                  Oh, I see. Tonight. Well, why not. Yes. By all means, let us have ices.

CLARISSA                 Everything else is ordered. Chairs, flowers. Cloakroom tickets.

RICHARD                  Cloakroom tickets?

CLARISSA                 The party, Richard. My party. I was thinking of lemon and vanilla.

RICHARD                  Lemon and vanilla cloakroom tickets?

CLARISSA                 Oh, really. Ices. Lemon and vanilla ices.

(Door opens over the last speech. Hurried footsteps.)

ELIZABETH              Mother – have you seen my green jacket?

CLARISSA                 Lucy will find it for you.

RICHARD                  ‘Morning, Elizabeth.

CLARISSA                 Toast?

ELIZABETH              No, thank you. I’m late. I’m meeting Miss Kilman. We’re going to the Army and Navy Stores.

CLARISSA                 Good heavens.

ELIZABETH              We’re going to do some shopping.

CLARISSA                I don’t understand why you spend so much time with her.

ELIZABETH              Oh, Mother. Miss Kilman knows so much about history. She is  wonderfully enthusiastic. Inspiring, even.

RICHARD                  I believe she does some University Extension Lecturing.

ELIZABETH              Yes. And she is very devout. I admire her for that.

CLARISSA                 In my experience, religious ecstasy makes people callous.

ELIZABETH              Miss Kilman believes in causes. Surely you approve of that?

CLARISSA                 I’m sure she is a paragon of compassion. But she doesn’t care in the least how she dresses. She inflicts positive torture with that green mackintosh coat.

ELIZABETH              It’s the only coat she owns.

CLARISSA                 Exactly. She is never in the room for five minutes without making you feel her superiority and your inferiority. How poor she is. How rich you are. How she lives in a slum without a cushion or a bed –

ELIZABETH              Of course she has a bed.

CLARISSA                 Well, a rug, or whatever it might be. Her soul is rusted with grievances.

ELIZABETH              Why do you hate her so much, Mother?

CLARISSA                It isn’t her one hates, but the idea of her. She is one of those spectres with whom one battles during the night. Elizabeth. I have to order flowers. You could help me choose. And I must have a new pair of gloves. Why not come shopping with me?

(Chair scraping back.)

ELIZABETH              Another day, Mother.

(Door closes.)

CLARISSA                 Oh, Richard, I wish she was more – graceful. More ladylike.

RICHARD                  Elizabeth is lovely just as she is.


(Breakfast room fades into Satie.)

REZIA (over)             A June morning in London. Another day with carriages, motor cars, omnibuses. So much noise. So many people.  I wish I could shout for help so loudly that my sisters will hear me and come from Milan to London, to be with me.

SEPTIMUS                Rezia? What are you looking at?

REZIA                        Just the street, Septimus. Come and see. It’s a beautiful day.

SEPTIMUS                Close the window, please.

(Casement window closes.)

REZIA                        I wonder if it’s hot in Milan?

(Satie fades into a slightly discordant mantelpiece clock, striking the half hour.)

SEPTIMUS                Are we going to Milan?

REZIA                        Not today. We have an appointment to see Dr Holmes today. Remember?

SEPTIMUS                Yes. I remember. I like Holmes.

REZIA                        And he likes you. Then, this afternoon, we’re going to see Sir William Bradshaw.

SEPTIMUS                Do I know him?

REZIA                        No. He has consulting rooms in Harley Street.

SEPTIMUS                Why are we going to see another doctor?

REZIA                        Just to get a second opinion. Two appointments in one day. We’ll be busy.

(Wardrobe door opens.)

SEPTIMUS                What are you doing now?

REZIA                        I’m looking for my new hat. Ah. What do you think?

SEPTIMUS                Why do you need a hat, if we’re going to see a doctor?

REZIA                        You can tell everything about a woman by the hat she wears. I want to wear my new hat. I finished it yesterday, after supper.

(SEPTIMUS laughs.)

Is that funny? Good. I’m glad it’s funny. Shall we go for a walk In Regent’s Park?

SEPTIMUS                Yes. I’d like a walk.

REZIA                        When you are quite well, Septimus, we shall go back to Italy and walk in the parks in Milan. Come.

((Over door closing and footsteps on stairs.)

REZIA (over)                         Milan is so far away. White houses. Streets, crowded every evening with people walking, laughing out loud. I miss everything. I feel as if I am fading in London, like the last sparks of a rocket surrendering to the night.


(Breakfast room. Big Ben in the distance striking three-quarters of an hour. Letters being opened.)

CLARISSA                 What time will you be home for luncheon, Richard?

RICHARD                  I’m lunching with Lady Bruton today.

CLARISSA                 Oh, dear. Today of all days. I have far too much to do. Could you ask her to invite us another day?

RICHARD                  Well, actually, Clarissa –

CLARISSA                 I see. I’m not invited.

RICHARD                  It’s a business lunch, my dear. You would be terribly bored. You don’t mind, do you?

CLARISSA                 Of course I don’t mind.

RICHARD                  I’m pleased to hear it. You have no need to be jealous of one lunch with Lady Bruton.

CLARISSA                 Jealousy, Richard, is vulgar. Millicent Bruton may give amusing lunch parties, but she shows the passage of time on her face. Last time I saw her I thought how much she had aged. (Letter rustles.) Well, I never.

RICHARD                  What is it?

CLARISSA                Peter Walsh. He’s on his way back from India. After all this time. You remember Peter, don’t you?

RICHARD                  How could I forget the man who followed you round like a mournful spaniel every summer. He was always at Bourton.

CLARISSA                 Richard. I do believe you are still jealous of him. Peter always said I would marry a Prime Minister and stand at the top of a staircase.

RICHARD                  I am never jealous of dull people. And he was wrong about my becoming Prime Minister. Though we do, indeed have a number of staircases, and you often stand at the top of them . He was madly in love with you.

CLARISSA                 Yes, that’s quite true. But I didn’t marry him, Richard. I married you.

RICHARD                  So you did, my dear. (Kisses her on the cheek. She receives it gracefully.) You showed great taste.

CLARISSA                 You know, sometimes I wish I was more like you.  One of those people who do things for themselves. Half the time I do things in order to make other people think this or that of me. I want people to be pleased, when I walk into a room.

RICHARD                  Clarissa. You know you have a gift for people.

CLARISSA                 I do. I understand people by instinct. If you put me in a room with someone, my back goes up like a cat’s. Or I purr.

RICHARD                  There you are. That’s your special gift.

CLARISSA                 Even so, if I could have my life all over again, I think I would want to be interested in politics, like a man.

RICHARD                  Why should you want to be interested in politics?

CLARISSA                 Oh, I don’t know. Fear no more the heat o’the sun.

RICHARD                  I don’t think it will be hot today. We are hardly into June.

CLARISSA                 Fear no more the heat o’the sun is Shakespeare. I expect that’s why I married you. Because you had never read Shakespeare.

RICHARD                  And I still haven’t. No decent man ought to read Shakespeare’s sonnets. It’s like listening at keyholes.

(Silvery clock begins to strike the hour.)

RICHARD (scrape of chair) Good Lord. I must be off. (Kiss on cheek.) Goodbye, my dear.

 (Door opens. RICHARD and LUCY overlap, one leaving, one arriving.)

LUCY                                     Shall I clear breakfast, Madam?

CLARISSA                 Please. (Dishes.) What time are the men coming?

LUCY                                     About eleven.

CLARISSA                 Make sure they don’t scratch the furniture or mark the wallpaper. Oh, and could you find Miss Elizabeth’s green jacket?

LUCY                                     Yes, Madam.

CLARISSA                 I shall need you later to help with the flowers and arrange the drawing room.

LUCY                                     Yes, Madam.

(Dining room mixes with front door closing.)



CLARISSA (over footsteps The air at Bourton was always calmer and more still than in London. Here, in Westminster, the air is like the flap of a wave. Chill and sharp, like the kiss of a wave. (Beat.) What a lark. What a plunge. Here I am. Mrs Dalloway. Not even Clarissa Dalloway, but Mrs Richard Dalloway. I am invisible. Unseen. Unknown. There is no more marrying,  no more having children. The soft mesh of the grey-blue morning unwinds in the streets. Whirling young men and laughing young girls in their transparent muslins float along the pacements. And Peter Walsh is coming home from India.


(Satie mixes with hotel clock, striking nine. Soft breakfast sounds.)

WAITER                    Your post, Mr Walsh.

PETER                        Thank you, Stephens.

WAITER                    It’s good to see you again, sir.

PETER                        And you, Stephens. (Over envelope opening.) Still the same furniture in the hotel. Shabby white tablecloths. Red leather chairs and sofas. The same plants. Spiked, tired leaves. (Loud.) It’s a pleasure to be back.

SALLY (bright, over, in letter) Darling Peter. I have been the most frightfully bad correspondent. How long is it now? I am coming up to London for Clarissa’s party this evening, and I hope I shall see you.


PETER (over).            Clarissa at Bourton. Standing on the top of the hill, above the river Severn, her hands clapped to her hair, her cloak blowing out. Clarissa, kneeling down and boiling a kettle on a little fire. Smoke blowing in our faces.

SALLY (over)             How about meeting me for tea before the party. By the red pillar box opposite the British Museum, at three o’clock.

PETER (over)             Bourton in the dusk. Walking through stubble fields. Clarissa, always striding ahead. Finding a flower. Laughing. Talking about poetry, people, politics.

SALLY (over)             I’m looking forward so much to seeing you again. Sally.

(Dining room fades into Satie, mixes into street.)


PETER (over footsteps) London is still as splendid as ever. Doctors, men of business, capable women, punctual, alert, wholly admirable, good fellows to whom one would entrust one’s life, companions in the art of living, who would see one through. There are moments when civilisation of this sort is as dear to me as a  personal possession.


(Single set of footsteps mixes into two sets. Noisier street.)

SEPTIMUS                Look, Rezia. Streamers.

REZIA                        Where?

SEPTIMUS                Up there. On the trees.

REZIA                        Those aren’t streamers.  It’s just the branches.

SEPTIMUS                Hold my hand. I might fall into the flames.

REZIA                        It’s just a street, Septimus, with people, cars, children. The world is beautiful today. There are no flames.

(Footsteps mixes into single set, in Bond Street.) 


(Smart heels.)

CLARISSA (over)      Bond Street. Hat shops. A roll of tweed in the tailor’s shop, where my father bought his suits for fifty years. A string of pearls in the jeweller’s window. Salmon on an ice block in the fishmonger’s. Gloves. I must buy  gloves. (Clatter of wheels, mixing with a slow car.)  Here in the streets of London, on the ebb and flow of things, here I survive.

HUGH (from across the road) Clarissa. I say, Clarissa.

CLARISSA                 Why, Hugh Whitbread, of all people.

HUGH (breathless)    What a pleasure to run into you. And looking so well.

(Big Ben begins to strike eleven.)

CLARISSA                 I didn’t know the admirable Hugh Whitbread shopped in Bond Street. What have you bought?

HUGH                        What? Oh, that’s my despatch box. I’m on my way to the office. And you? Where are you off to?

CLARISSA                 Final shopping for the party tonight. Walking in London is so much better than walking in the country. Have you and Evelyn come up for this evening?

HUGH                        Well, yes and no. We came up this morning. For your party – and not for your party. We’re here to see doctors again.

CLARISSA                 I am sorry. What is it this time?

HUGH                        Evelyn is a little out of sorts, I’m afraid.

CLARISSA                 Oh, dear. Look, I should very much like to buy something for her. What shall it be?

HUGH                        I don’t know. Something to read. Some sort of book, perhaps? I leave it up to you.

CLARISSA                 Very well. What about – ‘Cranford’? If only people had that sort of humour now. Yes. I think Evelyn would appreciate ‘Cranford’.

HUGH                        It’s a frightful bore, you know. Others come up to London to see pictures; to go to the opera, to take their daughters out. We come up to see doctors. That is how it is.

CLARISSA                 What a nuisance. One does age, though.

HUGH                        You never age, Clarissa.

CLARISSA                 Sweet of you to say so. Even if Evelyn is indisposed, will you still come to my party?

HUGH                        Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Evelyn will insist on my going.

CLARISSA                 Richard will be so pleased to see you.

HUGH                        Actually, I shall see old Richard before tonight. We’re both lunching at Millicent Bruton’s.

CLARISSA                 Indeed? Is Evelyn invited to luncheon?

HUGH                        Good lord, no. It’s business and politics.

CLARISSA                 How long have you known Millicent, Hugh?

HUGH                        Longer than I care to remember. Twenty years at least.

CLARISSA                 I have known her for longer than that, and she still does not invite me to lunch.

HUGH                        For Millicent, everything is politics and business. That’s the only reason.

CLARISSA                 Well, actually, it is a relief not to be invited. One is so busy. I have flowers to order.

HUGH                        Flowers. What a good idea. Perhaps I should take flowers to Millicent. What do you think about carnations?

CLARISSA                 I have no idea what Millicent likes. Don’t be late tonight, Hugh. I must dash. ‘Bye.(Walking, over.) Dear old Hugh. So shy, like a brother. One would rather die than speak honestly to one’s brother. How old is Evelyn now? About my age? Fifty-two? Ah. It is probably that. Well. Gloves and flowers. Flowers and gloves.

(Street mixes into Regent’s Park. Birds. Children.  Traffic in distance.)


(Footsteps on Broad Walk.)

PETER (over)                          What a splendid morning. Like the pulse of a perfect heart. Regent’s Park in the sun: a long, straight walk, going on for ever. London is  enchanting. The softness. The distances. The greenness. The civilisation.

Why does my childhood keep coming back to me? A leaf brings it back in an instant. (He sits down. Yawns.)


(Park mixes with Big Ben striking the half hour, fading to give way to traffic.)

SEPTIMUS                Rezia, you must write down everything.

REZIA                        I can’t write anything down in the street, my dear.

SEPTIMUS                You can, if you want to.

REZIA                        I’ll write it down when we get home. You know I always do.

(Penny whistle.)

SEPTIMUS                Write it on the sky, like the streamers.

REZIA                                   If I was tall enough I would.

SEPTIMUS                I like it here. High, on the back of the world. The earth thrills beneath me.

REZIA                        Shall we look in the shop windows?

SEPTIMUS                What’s that music?

REZIA                        It’s a pipe – a – what do you call it – a penny whistle. Look. Over there, across the road.

SEPTIMUS                The music rises in smooth columns. I never knew you could see music.

(Large car drowns the faint penny whistle.)


(Car mixes into the delicate tinkle of shop bell. Hushed shop. Soft click of heels.)

ASSISTANT              Good morning, Madam. May I help you?

CLARISSA                 Yes. I’d like to see some white gloves. They must come above the elbow.

ASSISTANT              Certainly. (Drawer opens.)  Would you like to try these, Madam?

CLARISSA                 These are grey.

ASSISTANT              They are actually off-white. Do try them. They should be long enough for you.

CLARISSA                 Perhaps you are right. (Tissue rustling.) I do like the pearl buttons.

ASSISTANT              Madam’s hands are so slender, The gloves will slide easily over the rings. There. What do you think?

CLARISSA                 Oh, no. They won’t do. The gloves hardly come to my elbows. I need at least another inch.

ASSISTANT              Do look at them in the daylight. By the door.

(Footsteps to door.)

CLARISSA                 How interesting. Perhaps you’re right after all. They might do. Do you remember, before the war, you sold gloves with pearl buttons?

ASSISTANT              French gloves, Madam?

CLARISSA                 I think they were French.

ASSISTANT              I’m afraid we don’t stock them any more.

CLARISSA                 I’ll take this pair, then.

ASSISTANT              Thank you, Madam. Shall I wrap them for you?

CLARISSA                 Yes, please. I’ll collect them later.

(Aeroplane outside the shop. Shop door opens, and aeroplane is louder.)


CLARISSA (out in the street over)     An aeroplane, swooping like a dancer. Like a seagull over London. (Walking, beat.) Next, flowers.



(More vigorous bell, into flower shop.)

CLARISSA (over)      Roses, like frilled linen, clean from the laundry. Dark and prim red carnations hold their heads up, next to sweet peas spreading in their bowls, as if it is the evening and girls in muslin frocks have come out on a summer day. The perfume of a moment between six and seven in the evening, when every flower glows. Evening in the garden. Bourton. My lovely Bourton.

CLARISSA (loud)      Good morning, Miss Pym.

MISS PYM                 Good morning, Mrs Dalloway. Isn’t it a lovely day?

CLARISSA                It is, indeed.

MISS PYM                 Your flowers are ready. We can deliver them any time this afternoon..

CLARISSA                 Thank you. I love the scent in here. You have such variety. Delphiniums, sweet peas, bunches of lilac. What are your favourites?

MISS PYM                 The sweet peas are especially beautiful at the moment.

CLARISSA                 So they are. I’ll carry a bunch of sweet peas with me now, if I may.

MISS PYM                 Certainly, Mrs Dalloway.

(Violent backfiring outside.)

Good heavens. What on earth was that?

(More backfiring.)

MISS PYM                 Those motor cars are far too loud.

(Commotion outside. Rapid footsteps to the door.)

CLARISSA                 What’s happened?

MISS PYM                 Oh, my Lord. Someone is lying on the pavement

(Shop door opens.)  

CLARISSA (in the street, running across the road.) Excuse me. Is there anything I can do? Are you hurt, sir?

REZIA (we are with her) I don’t think so, Madam. Septimus – let me help you up.

SEPTIMUS                Why has everything stopped?

REZIA                        You tripped over. That is all.

CLARISSA                 Are you quite sure you’re alright?

REZIA                        Yes, yes, we are fine, thank you. My husband was startled by the car.

CLARISSA                 He’s quite pale.

SEPTIMUS                Why is she they looking at me?

REZIA                        No-one is looking at you, dear. Everyone is looking at the motor car.

CLARISSA                 Please forgive me for asking  – are you Italian?

SEPTIMUS                The world has raised its whip. Where will it descend?

REZIA                        Yes, I am. I’m afraid my accent is not always good.

CLARISSA                 No, no. It is very good. Would you like these flowers? Perhaps they will cheer your husband. I love sweet peas.

REZIA                        They are beautiful. I can’t possibly take them.

CLARISSA                 I can easily buy more. I would like you to have them. Really.

REZIA                        Thank you. Thank you so much. Mille grazie.

(Car begins to go leave, backfiring a little. A cheer from everyone in the street.)

CLARISSA                 Do you like living in London?

REZIA                        Very much.

CLARISSA                 Have you seen Buckingham Palace? Where the King and Queen live?

REZIA                        Not yet. I hope my husband will take me one day.

(Aeroplane is passing above the traffic.)

SEPTIMUS                Rezia. That aeroplane. It’s Evans flying over us.

REZIA                        Thank you so much for your help, Madam. Come along, Septimus.

(Traffic and plane mix into Satie.)


(Satie mixes back into plane over park and birds. Small baby crying, being comforted. Aeroplane zooms over.)

PETER (over)             An aeroplane, swooping like a dancer. Flying over the countryside, over the sea. Over London

SALLY (over)             Don’t forget, Peter. By the red pillar box opposite the British Museum. Three o’clock?

PETER (over)             Sally Seton. Clarissa. Bourton. Lunch in the garden. (Yawns.)


(Satie mixes with  PETER’s breathing, into Bourton. )

CLARISSA                 Peter, would you like some more apple pie?

PETER                        What? Oh. Yes, please.

CLARISSA                 Then hurry up and finish what you’ve got on your plate. (General amusement.)

RICHARD                  I say, Clarissa. I want to tell you something.

CLARISSA                 What is it, Richard?

RICHARD                  It’s a secret. Come over here.

CLARISSA                 Alright.

(Whispering and giggles.)

CLARISSA (burst of laughter) Oh, Richard. You are so funny.

SALLY (whispering) Peter, look. Clarissa is blushing.

PETER (close)            What is she laughing at?

CLARISSA                 Peter – may I introduce my new friend, Mr Wickham.

(She and RICHARD burst out laughing again.)

PETER                        Oh. Do you know, I never knew your surname, Richard. How do you do, Mr Wickham.

CLARISSA                 He’s not really called Wickham, silly.

PETER                        But you just said he is.

CLARISSA                 Don’t you remember? Wickham was the dashing young soldier in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Jane Austen, you know.

PETER                        Yes, actually, I do know.

RICHARD                  I’m no soldier, Clarissa dear. Far from it.

CLARISSA                 Ah, but you are very dashing, Mr Wickham.

RICHARD                  I’m not at all dashing. I walk very slowly.

PETER                        Flattering, though, to be compared to a soldier, don’t you think?

RICHARD                  I don’t know. Actually, Peter, my name is Dalloway.

(SALLY stifles a giggle.)

CLARISSA                 Sally Seton. Behave. Richard. From now on I shall call you Wickham Dalloway. Or shall it be Dalloway Wickham?

SALLY                        No, no. I think it must be ‘My name is Dalloway’. How do you do, my name is Dalloway?

(More laughter. Bourton mixess back into street, aeroplane and traffic.)


(Aeroplane fades, mixing with traffic and Big Ben.)

CLARISSA (over her footsteps)         Victoria Street. The leaden circles of Big Ben dissolving in the air. Heaven knows only knows why one loves everything so, making it, building it, tumbling it, creating every moment in other people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp and trudge. In the bellow and the uproar. The carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane over London. This is what I love. I know it must end, but while it is here – I love it all.

(Footsteps fade. Aeroplane mixes with the park.)


REZIA                        Look. Septimus. Now there are letters in the sky. No more streamers. Just letters. They’re trailing from the aeroplane.

SEPTIMUS                Tell them to stop.

REZIA                        Let’s sit down. Is this bench taken, sir?

PETER                        No, no. There’s plenty of room. It’s remarkable, isn’t it? Those letters.

REZIA                        What do they say? I can’t work it out.

(Aeroplane above.)

PETER                        T…O… It’s – I think they must be advertising toffee.

REZIA                        K… R…E…what does that spell?

PETER                        It’s – Kreemo. That must be the name of the toffee.

SEPTIMUS                You mustn’t talk to strangers, Rezia. Your voice has thrown the trees into the air. Now the leaves are burning.

PETER                        Is the gentleman ill, my dear?

SEPTIMUS                I don’t want to go mad.

REZIA                        My darling, you are not going mad.

SEPTIMUS                But the trees are alive.

REZIA                        Of course they are. Trees and flowers grow. Just like people.

SEPTIMUS                The leaves are in my body. Sparrows, fluttering, rising, falling in jagged fountains. I must tell you something, sir. It’s a secret.

PETER                        I can keep a secret. I’m very discreet.

REZIA (Over.) How much longer can I stand this? He makes everything so terrible. Loving someone is so lonely.

SEPTIMUS                Listen. I am thinking of killing myself.

REZIA                        I do apologise, sir.

PETER                        There is no need to apologise.

SEPTIMUS                I told this nice gentleman that I am going to kill myself. He understands.

REZIA                        You are not going to kill yourself, Septimus. He fought in the war, you see. You’re not a coward, Septimus. You are brave.  

SEPTIMUS                Do you think I am mad, sir?

PETER                        Certainly not. You seem to be – preoccupied. Thinking about things, that’s all.

SEPTIMUS                There. This gentleman does not think I am mad. There is a God. No one kills from hatred. But – he is still there.

PETER                        Indeed. God is always there.

SEPTIMUS                I mean that sparrow. It’s calling my name. Septimus, Septimus. It’s singing in Greek.

REZIA                        It could be singing in English, or even Italian.

PETER                        Are you from Italy?

REZIA                        Yes. I am from Milan.

PETER                        How interesting. Actually, I’ve just returned from India.

REZIA                        Oh? Do you live there?

PETER                        I’ve been there for the past five years. My family is Anglo-Indian. They’ve always been in colonial administration. So I simply followed in their footsteps. Which is a little odd, since I rather dislike empire and the army and all that.

SEPTIMUS                I don’t think Evans has ever been to India.

PETER                        Who is Evans? Is he a friend of yours?

REZIA                        Sir, I should explain. He is not my Septimus any more. He says hard, cruel, strange things. He talks to a dead man.

PETER                        Is that – Evans?

SEPTIMUS                Yes. Evans is a great friend.

REZIA                        He was a great friend to Septimus. You were very lucky to have such a friend.

SEPTIMUS                Were?

REZIA                        He was killed, my darling. In the war. Remember?

PETER                        I had friends who were killed in the war.

SEPTIMUS                But Evans is still there. I can see him. Behind those railings.

PETER                        I’ve always loved Regent’s Park. Do you like coming here?

REZIA                        Very much. It is peaceful.

PETER                        Have you visited Hampton Court? The flowers there are wonderful; red and yellow, like floating lamps. At least, that’s how I remember it. It may not be the same now. After all, London is different now in some ways.

REZIA                        How?

PETER                        People look  – more content, somehow. Freer. I can’t explain it properly.

SEPTIMUS (getting up and walking off)       It’s time to go, Rezia.

REZIA                        Septimus – where are you going?

SEPTIMUS                Evans, you are being stupid. Don’t worry, Rezia. I am perfectly rational. People are wicked. They make up lies. I know how their minds work. I know the meaning of the world.

REZIA                        Thank you for talking to us, Mr – ?

PETER                        Walsh. Peter Walsh.

REZIA                        I am Lucrezia. My husband is Septimus Warren-Smith.

PETER                        Well, goodbye. Best of luck to you both.

SEPTIMUS                Goodbye, Evans.

REZIA                        Wait for me, Septimus.


(Park mixes into busy street. Front door opens. Men banging, moving doors. A racket of preparation.)

CLARISSA                 Lucy. Lucy.

LUCY             (running upstairs from kitchen )They’ve nearly finished, Mrs Dalloway. Careful. (Sharper.) Please watch what you’re doing with them doors. Sorry, Madam.

(Front door closes. We are in the hall. Sound of men retreats.)

CLARISSA                 Is everything alright?

LUCY                                     Oh, yes, Madam. Sorry I had to raise me voice to the men. It’s the only way to get them to take notice.

CLARISSA                 That’s quite understandable. Has anyone telephoned?

LUCY                                     Yes, Madam. There is a message for you.

CLARISSA                 Thank you. Would you take these gloves upstairs? And put the sweet peas in water. I’ll have them in my bedroom. The rest of the flowers will be delivered later.

LUCY                                     Very well, Madam. We’ve cleaned all the silver for the party. The giant candlesticks came up a treat.

CLARISSA                 Thank you, Lucy. (Footsteps up stairs. Over.) The hall is so cool. I’m a nun who has left the world and feels the familiar veils of her sanctuary fold round her. (Piece of paper.) Well, well, well.

SALLY (over)             My dear Clarissa. I am so looking forward to your party this evening.

CLARISSA (over)      Sally Seton. A moment like this is a bud on the tree of life. Darling, lovely Sally Seton. (Loud.) Oh, good heavens. (Calls.) Lucy, someone has left the landing window open.

LUCY             (from downstairs)       I’m sorry, Madam. I’ll come up and close it.

(Footsteps running up. Sash window bangs closed.)

LUCY                                     Have you decided what to wear tonight, Madam?

CLARISSA                 Come and help me choose.

(Bedroom door closes. House noise has gone.)

LUCY                                     It’s hard to think the house will be full of people in no time. They’ll all talk like this: oh, how de do and where you bin of recent times?

CLARISSA                 That’s rather good, Lucy. You have quite a gift.

LUCY                                     I know, Madam. Ladies and gentlemen, I can imitate them all.

(Cupboard open, rustling of silk and taffeta and satin.)

CLARISSA                 Now then.

LUCY                                     Oh, Madam. How can you possibly choose between them?

CLARISSA                 I shall wear – (dresses shifted on rail ) – how about this one?

LUCY                                     Perfect.

CLARISSA                 Good. Could you iron it?

LUCY                                     Certainly.

CLARISSA                 Thank you. By the way, have you found Elizabeth’s jacket?

LUCY                                     Yes. It’s hanging in her room.

CLARISSA                 I wore this dress at Hatfield. And at Buckingham Palace

LUCY                                     Oh, dear. The hem is torn. Look. On one side.

CLARISSA                 Torn? Where? Let me see. Oh, yes.

LUCY                                     How could that have happened?

CLARISSA                 Someone must have trodden on it at the Embassy party last month. I didn’t notice anything.

LUCY                                     Shall I mend it, Madam?

CLARISSA                 No, no. You have far too much to do. I’ll mend it myself. Take  my silks, scissors and thimble into the drawing room.

LUCY                                     You will look like a queen, Mrs Dalloway.

CLARISSA                 Thank you, Lucy. How would you like to be Princess Mary?

LUCY                                     What? Oh. Beg pardon, Madam, I didn’t mean to make fun of the ladies and gentlemen.

CLARISSA                 Imagine that you are Princess Mary. You arrive at my party. You sail through the front door, into the drawing room. You are surrounded by flowers.

LUCY                                     Alright then. (Door opens.) Like this?

CLARISSA                 Bravo. Just like that.

LUCY                                     No-one would ever know I first seen service in a baker’s shop, in Caterham.

CLARISSA                 Lucy, please. Princess Mary doesn’t speak like that.

LUCY                                     Yes. Sorry, Madam. Shall I do the voice an’ all?

CLARISSA                 Well, why not? And how did you enjoy the play last night, Princess Mary?

(Door closes.)

LUCY                                     I’m afraid we had to leave before ten.

CLARISSA                 So you don’t know how the play ended?

LUCY                                     No. We missed the  – what do you call the end in smart words?

CLARISSA                 The denouement.

LUCY                                     Yes. The denurement. We missed that, because we left too soon.

CLARISSA                 What a frightful shame.

LUCY                                     Oh, offally bad luck, yes. Oh, Mrs Dalloway, I do like being a Princess.

(Huge bang downstairs.)

CLARISSA                 What on earth is that?

LUCY                         I’ll go down and see what’s happened.

(Footsteps hurrying downstairs mix into quiet smart street.)


(Ring at front door bell. Door opens.)

RECEPTIONIST        May I help you?

REZIA                        Mr Septimus Warren Smith to see Dr Holmes, please.

RECEPTIONIST        Certainly. Do come in. Please take a seat in the waiting room. First door on the right.

REZIA                        Thank you.

(Door closes.)


(Door closing above mixes into  CLARISSA’s drawing room. Rustle of taffeta. Scissors cuts silk. Sewing.)

CLARISSA (over)      Green silk folds. The needle draws the silk smoothly to a gentle pause. Fear no more, says the heart, as a summer’s day’s waves collect, overbalance and fall. The body listens to the wave breaking.

(Front door bell. Knock, and drawing room door opens.)

LUCY             (tentative)        Mrs Dalloway – you have a visitor – will you see him?

PETER (behind her)   It’s alright, my dear. Clarissa. May I come in?

CLARISSA                 What? Peter Walsh. Good heavens. Thank you, Lucy.

(Door closes.)

What a surprise.

PETER                        I wrote to you. I said I was coming back. Did you get my letter?

CLARISSA                 Oh, yes. You didn’t say exactly when you were arriving.

PETER                        Didn’t I? (Kiss.)

CLARISSA                 Never mind. It’s delightful to see you. You’re looking  awfully well.

PETER                        So do you, Clarissa.

CLARISSA                 Nonsense. I’ve lost weight.

PETER                        Well, it suits you.

CLARISSA                 Thank you. When did you get back?

PETER                        I landed last night. What are you doing with that green, shiny thing?

CLARISSA                 This green shiny thing, as you put it, is my dress for tonight. (Rustle of dress.) I’ve nearly finished mending it.


PETER                        How is the admirable Richard?

CLARISSA                 The very admirable Richard is very well.

PETER                        Does he approve of the hall being demolished?

CLARISSA                 It’s not being demolished. You exaggerate, as usual, Peter. The hall has been cleared for my party tonight. You are coming, aren’t you?

PETER                        I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I gather Sally Seton will be there. I had a note from her, at my hotel.

CLARISSA                 You mean, of course, Lady Rosseter. Now living in an enormous mansion in Manchester. What brings you back to London, Peter?

PETER                        I’ve come to see solicitors. Messrs Hooper and Grately. Lincoln’s Inn. Do you know them?

CLARISSA                 No. Why are you seeing them?

PETER                        Clarissa. I have a million things to tell you. The most important is that I am in love, with a girl in India. A married woman, unfortunately. The wife of a major in the Indian army. She has two small children. A boy and a girl. (Fishes in his pocket.) The photograph doesn’t really do Daisy justice. I’ve come over to see my lawyers about the divorce.

CLARISSA                 The children look lovely. But the wife of an army Major? Really, Peter. Isn’t that a little foolish?

PETER                        Of course it’s foolish. I know what I’m up against. (He bursts into tears,)

CLARISSA                Peter. Peter my dear. Come here. (Close, kiss.)

(Satie softly in background.)

PETER                        It is so good to hold you again. Sometimes I wish you had married me instead of Richard. But then, we would have argued all the time, wouldn’t we?

CLARISSA                 Yes. And then made up and held hands again. Oh, well. All that is over for me now. I am a pale woman, up in a tower, leaving real lovers blackberrying in the sun.

PETER                        Daisy looks so ordinary beside you, Clarissa. Do you remember how you made the moon rise, on the terrace at Bourton?

CLARISSA                 I didn’t make the moon rise. Anyway, you hated the moon! You preferred darkness and shadows, and talking about the death of the soul. Whenever I think of you, I think mostly of our quarrels. Now why is that?

PETER                        Attraction, I should think.

CLARISSA                 I really did want your good opinion so much. You taught me the meaning of two very important words. Sentimental and civilised. Perhaps I am being sentimental, thinking of the past?

PETER                        I don’t know whether it’s sentimental, thinking of the past. I certainly remember that last awful summer at Bourton.

CLARISSA                 Yes. Do you remember the lake? We used to throw bread to the ducks. I suppose that’s not enough for a marriage. ow is everything? How is everybody? How is Richard? Elizabeth?

PETER                        Well, you married your Richard. My life has been a failure.

CLARISSA                 Nonsense. Tell me about India. Adventures. Bridge parties. Love affairs.

PETER                        Not much of any of those. It’s been mainly work. I invented a plough in my district, and ordered wheelbarrows from England. The men refused to use them, because they were unfamiliar. That was a failure too. Are you happy, Clarissa?

(Satie mixes into consulting rooms.)


(Consulting rooms.)

HOLMES                   Now then, Mr Warren Smith. How are you today?

SEPTIMUS                Very well, thank you, except that my wife has taken off her wedding ring. She’s lost it.

REZIA                                    My hand has grown quite thin. The ring was slipping off. So I put it in my bag. Look, Septimus. It’s here. I haven’t lost it.

SEPTIMUS                My wife has thrown away her wedding ring. My wife has left me.

HOLMES                   No, no. She has the ring. She’s taken it off for safekeeping.

SEPTIMUS                I, Septimus, the lord of men, am free to talk to you, Dr Holmes. I am called forth to hear the truth, to learn the meaning of all the toils of civilisation, Romans, Shakespeare, Darwin.

HOLMES                   You are a philosopher, Mr Warren-Smith.

SEPTIMUS                The truth must be given.

HOLMES                   To whom is the truth to be given?

SEPTIMUS                To you. To the Prime Minister. To anyone who will listen.

HOLMES                   What exactly will you tell the Prime Minister, Mr Warren-Smith?

SEPTIMUS                I will tell him that the trees are alive, and that there is no crime. There is only love, universal love. I will tell him that I have seen a dog turn into a man. It was horrible.

HOLMES                   Was the dog standing on its hind legs?

SEPTIMUS                I don’t remember. But then it trotted away. It was only snuffling my trousers.

HOLMES                   Good, good.

(Satie softly in background.)

SEPTIMUS                I know that heaven is divinely merciful, infinitely benign. It spares me and pardons my weakness. But what, doctor, is the scientific explanation for the fact that I can see through bodies, see into the future, and notice when dogs become men?

HOLMES                   It may be the heat wave, sir. And you must remember that you have been through a very difficult, traumatic experience. The war has affected so many people this way.

REZIA                        My husband isn’t sleeping.

SEPTIMUS                The trouble is that when I sleep, I dream.

REZIA                        He has headaches. He is full of fears.

HOLMES                  These are only nervous symptoms. Nothing more.

SEPTIMUS                I suppose you are saying that, scientifically speaking, the flesh has melted off the world.

HOLMES                   It may feel like that now. But it will heal. You will heal. I am quite certain of it.

SEPTIMUS                So I am all nerve fibres, spread like a veil upon a rock. Well, you know, that makes me feel a lot better. I am lying high, on the back of the world. The earth thrills beneath me. Red flowers grow through my body. I can hear their leaves rustling.

REZIA                        I don’t understand why he says these things. What am I to do, Dr Holmes?

HOLMES                   Well, if my spirits are a little low, I ask my wife for another plate of porridge at breakfast. Do you cook porridge, Mrs Warren Smith?

REZIA                        No. But I can learn.

HOLMES                   Health is largely a matter in our own control. Your husband should take up a hobby.

REZIA                        He used to love Shakespeare. Didn’t you, Septimus?

HOLMES                   No, no. Shakespeare is not the cure for someone who is out of sorts. I work as hard as any man in London, and I owe my health to the fact that I can always switch off from my patients onto old furniture. There is nothing the matter with him, you know. Nothing really, seriously the matter.

(Motor horn outside.)

SEPTIMUS                I can see music clanging against the rocks.

REZIA                        It is only a motor horn in the street.

SEPTIMUS                I know.

HOLMES                   Perhaps you could think about writing poetry. Or a novel, perhaps.

SEPTIMUS                I know.

HOLMES                   You see, Mrs Warren-Smith? There is nothing wrong with him really. He is quite a special man. I know it must be very worrying for you. Sometimes, Mr Warren-Smith, you must not hurry so much. Wait for your wife to catch up with you.

SEPTIMUS                I leaned over the edge of the boat and fell down. I went under the sea. I have been dead, and now I am alive, a drowned sailor on a rock. I am still high on my rock. I am so terribly tired, and yet I’m still drawn to the shores of life, the sun growing hotter.

HOLMES                   You should get down from the rock, sir. The sun may be too hot.

SEPTIMUS                Yes, yes, You are right. I should get down.

HOLMES                   Come to the window. What do you see?

SEPTIMUS                Long streamers of sunlight. Birds swooping and swerving. Always with perfect control, as if held by elastic. Flies rising and falling.

HOLMES                   That is wonderful. It is poetry. You should concentrate on everyday, ordinary things now. The war is over.

SEPTIMUS                The dead are still waiting.

REZIA                        He makes me so unhappy, Dr Holmes. I don’t know what to do.

SEPTIMUS                You fear the death of the soul, Rezia. Fear no more the heat o’ the sun. That’s Shakespeare.

HOLMES                   Go to a music hall. Play cricket. A nice out of doors game.

REZIA                                    You like cricket, don’t you, Septimus?

SEPTIMUS                Evans liked cricket. He was killed in Italy, just before the Armistice. It was remarkable. At the time, when it happened, I felt very little. I was proud of feeling very little.

REZIA                        And yet it was the end of an important friendship.

SEPTIMUS                The war taught me everything, you see. It was sublime. I went through the whole show. Friendship. Death. Promotion. I was charmed. The shells missed me. I watched them explode with indifference.

HOLMES                   What happened after the war?

SEPTIMUS                I was in Milan. I was billeted in the house of an innkeeper.

REZIA                        My father.

SEPTIMUS                There was a courtyard. Flowers in tubs. Daughters making hats. Lucrezia was making a hat.

HOLMES                   I will say it again. There really is nothing seriously wrong with you, Mr Warren Smith.

REZIA                        Please listen to Dr Holmes, Septimus.

HOLMES                   I suggest you try two tabloids of bromide dissolved in a glass of water at bedtime.

SEPTIMUS                I didn’t care when Evans was killed. That is the worst crime. I have committed a sin for which human nature has condemned me to death. But then all the other crimes raise their heads and sneer at me as I lie in bed. I married my wife without loving her.

REZIA                                   Septimus, that isn’t true.

SEPTIMUS                What if I still want to kill myself?

REZIA                        Dr Holmes – should we see another doctor – get a second opinion?

HOLMES                   If you are rich people, then by all means go to Harley Street. I can give you a letter, if you like. Well, thank you both for coming to see me, Mr and Mrs Warren Smith. I’ll drop in to visit you. See how you’re getting on. Goodbye, now.


(CLARISSA’s drawing room.)

PETER                        Seriously, Clarissa. Are you happy?

CLARISSA                 Of course I am. You shall see when you come to my party tonight.

PETER                        I suppose you spend all your time giving and running to parties. You know, there is nothing in the world so bad for some women as marriage, and politics. And having a Conservative husband like Richard.

CLARISSA                 Why is it that you always made me feel frivolous? Empty minded. A mere silly chatterbox. Why is that, Peter?

(Door bursts open.)

ELIZABETH              Mother – you will never guess – oh. Excuse me. I didn’t know you had a visitor.

CLARISSA                 Elizabeth, my darling. Do you remember Peter Walsh?

ELIZABETH              Why, of course I do. Hello. How are you?

PETER                        Hullo, Elizabeth. Good to see you again.

ELIZABETH              Mother, Lucy has found my green jacket.

CLARISSA                 I knew she would.

(Big Ben strikes the half hour.)

PETER                        Clarissa, I must go. I’m sure you’re frightfully busy.

CLARISSA                 Would you like to stay to lunch? I’m afraid Richard has another engagement.

PETER                        No, thank you.

CLARISSA                 Then we’ll look forward to seeing you tonight.

(Door closes.)

ELIZABETH              What a strange man. Why does he looks so sad? What on earth did you say to him?

CLARISSA                 Nothing, my dear. That is Peter Walsh all over. Everything is the matter with him. (Yawns.) I shall rest for a little while after lunch.

(Satie mixes into street, and one set of footsteps.)


PETER (over)            Dear Clarissa. A great brush smooths my mind, sweeping away children’s voices, the shuffle of feet and people passing, the hum and rise and fall of the traffic. I have seen Clarissa again. India is behind me now.

(Satie continues, mixing into…)


(Street, outside MILLICENT’s house.)

HUGH (calling)          Richard. I say, Richard.

RICHARD                  Hugh. Good to see you, old chap. Nice flowers. What are they?

HUGH                        Carnations, I’m told. Can’t tell one flower from another. I hope Millicent likes them.

RICHARD                  Shall we?

(Doorbell rings. Front door opens almost immediately.)

MISS BRUSH            Mr Whitbread. And Mr Dalloway. Do come in. Lady Bruton is expecting you.

HUGH                        The estimable Miss Brush. How are you?

MISS BRUSH            Very well, Mr Whitbread. Lovely carnations. I’ll put them in water. Do come in.

(Front door closes.)

MISS BRUSH            May I take your coats?

RICHARD                  Thank you.

(Coats divested, etc.)

How is your brother, Miss Brush? South Africa, isn’t it?

MISS BRUSH                        Thank you. He’s doing very well. Lady Bruton is in the drawing room.

(Drawing room door opens, and overlaps with CLARISSA’s bedroom door closing.)


CLARISSA (putting jewellery on dressing table. Over) Peter Walsh. A little older. A little thinner. But still – Peter. (Lies down. Sighs.)This question of love and marriage. Are they the same? What were we all doing, at Bourton?

(CLARISSA yawns, turns over; the bed creaks, mixing into a lively party at Bourton. Jazz.)

PETER                        Clarissa darling. Come and dance with me.

CLARISSA                 Love to, Peter. (Music up, as they dance.) I say. Who is that girl? Over there, in the corner.

PETER                        That, my dear, is Sally Seton.

CLARISSA                 I do admire that kind of beauty, Peter. Dark, large-eyed  – she’s everything I am not.

PETER                        She’s rather strange. Her parents don’t get on at all.

CLARISSA                Really? How very shocking. That one’s parents should quarrel. Do introduce me. She looks most unEnglish.

(Music fades back.)

PETER                        Sally – I say, Sally. Come and meet Clarissa. She says you look unEnglish.

SALLY                        But how clever! I do have French blood in my veins.

CLARISSA                 Just a lucky guess.

SALLY                        One of my ancestors knew Marie Antoinette. He had his head cut off.

CLARISSA                 How gruesome.

SALLY                        Not at all. Quite glamorous, actually. He left a ruby ring. It’s somewhere in the family. Or pawned. I don’t know.

CLARISSA                 I’d love to know more.

SALLY                        Come to my room tonight. I’ll tell you the whole story.

(Party mixes into LADY BRUTON’s dining room.)


LADY B                     Lovely carnations. Delighted you could get up to town, Hugh.

HUGH                        Well, Evelyn, you know.

LADY B                     Indeed, yes.

(General movement across the parquet flooring.)

Miss Brush will be joining us for luncheon. Marvellous

secretary, though otherwise deficient in every attribute of female charm. I need you both to help me write a letter.

(Door open. Rustle of maids and dishes.)

We’ll eat first.

(Smart luncheon sounds mix into Lyons Corner House.)


(Lyons Corner House.)

REZIA                        I’m starving. Let’s have egg and chips.

SEPTIMUS                What a good idea.

REZIA                        I really think things are going to be alright. We’ll still keep our appointment with Sir William Bradshaw this afternoon. Between the two doctors, they will cure you completely.

SEPTIMUS                I am the happiest man in the whole world, Rezia. I have been taken from death to life. And then, at any moment, I might be the most miserable.

REZIA                        Not today.

WAITRESS                Can I take your order now?

REZIA                        We’ll have scrambled eggs on toast, some chips and a big pot of tea.

WAITRESS                Thank you, Madam.

REZIA                        How old were you when you first came to London, Septimus?

SEPTIMUS               Quite young, I think. I left home because my mother  shouted at me when I came down to tea without washing my hands. There was no future for a poet in Stroud. I gave my sister a note for my mother, and got on the train. One day someone will read that note and remember how the great man lived.

REZIA                        That was very brave.

SEPTIMUS                I rented a room not far from here, off the Euston Road. I went to classes in the evening. I wanted to improve myself. Miss Isabel Pole lectured in the Waterloo Road upon Shakespeare. I fell in love with Miss Isabel Pole. She lent me a copy of Antony and Cleopatra.

REZIA                        Why haven’t you told me this before?

SEPTIMUS                I don’t know. Miss Pole lit in me a fire such as burns only once in a lifetime. Without heat. A red gold flame, infinitely ethereal and insubstantial. I wrote poems to her.

REZIA                        How wonderful.

SEPTIMUS                And when I can stop them all talking to me, I will write poems to you too, my darling Lucrezia.

REZIA                        You did once write me a poem, Septimus.

SEPTIMUS                Did I?

REZUA                      Yes. But you tore it up before you read it to me.

SEPTIMUS                I sent Miss Pole my poems, and she corrected them in red ink.

REZIA                        I wouldn’t correct your poems.

SEPTIMUS                One evening I saw her walking, in a green dress, with a man in a square. I wrote three poems to her that night, and tore them all up in the morning. I walked the streets and went into churches, and fasted all the next day. I read Shakespeare, Darwin, and Bernard Shaw. When war broke out, I was one of the first to volunteer.

REZIA                        Because you cared about your country.

SEPTIMUS                No. I went to France to save an England which consisted almost entirely of Shakespeare’s plays and Miss Isabel Pole in a green dress walking in a square.

WAITRESS                Here we are. (Dishes down.)

REZIA and SEPTIMUS         Thank you.

(They begin to eat. Tea poured.)

SEPTIMUS                In the trenches, I developed manliness. I drew the attention and affection of myofficer, Evans.

REZIA                        Yes.

SEPTIMUS                We were like two dogs on a hearthrug. Playing, jumping, the younger dog snapping at the older dog’s ear. The older dog lying somnolent, blinking at the fire, raising a paw, turning and growling good-temperedly. We were together. We had to be together. We fought with each other. We quarrelled with each other.

REZIA                        That is a poem in itself.

SEPTIMUS                And then. Lucrezia.

REZIA                        Yes?

SEPTIMUS                I can’t feel anything, Rezia.

REZIA                        And then the war was over.

SEPTIMUS                Yes. The dreadful war was over. The truce was signed. One day, one day in Italy – I came into the room where you were working, making hats. In an innkeeper’s house. Your father’s house.

REZIA                        We saw you. All the sisters. We giggled. You were so handsome.

SEPTMUS                  You were turning buckram shapes this way and that. Threading coloured beads on wires. You had saucers full of coloured beads.

REZIA                                    Feathers, spangles, silks, ribbons.

SEPTIMUS                Scissors rapped on the table. Girls laughed.

REZIA                        I miss my family. I miss Milan.

SEPTIMUS                Scissors, lamplight, you, smiling, your little artist’s fingers. Silk feathers. All alive in your hands. Rezia, Lucrezia, will you marry me?

REZIA                        Oh, Septimus. It is such a silly dream, being unhappy. We will have children. We shall go to the tower of London. To the Victoria and Albert Museum and Hampton Court. We shall read Shakespeare together.

SEPTIMUS                And Dante. And Aeschylus.  I do love you, Lucrezia.

(Lyons Corner House mixes into LADY BRUTON’s dining room.)


(Pouring and chinks of sugar stirring with silver spoons.)

RICHARD                  That was a delicious lunch, Lady Bruton.

LADY B                     Thank you. And how is dear Clarissa?

RICHARD                  Very well indeed.

LADY B                     Quite recovered from her illness?

RICHARD                  Oh, yes.

LADY B                     Good. Miss Brush – have you got your notebook?

MISS BRUSH            Of course, Lady Bruton.

LADY B                     You may already know something of my new project. (Polite, inquiring murmurs.) It is a project for respectable young people of both sexes to emigrate and settle with the prospect of doing well in Canada.

RICHARD                  Do you really think this is the best solution to our employment problem? I am not certain that emigration is the obvious remedy.

LADY B                     I have given it a great deal of consideration. For me, it is a cause worth pursuing, and I have become closely identified with it. I am convinced it is right.

(Polite murmurs of acknowledgement.)

I have begun a letter to The Times newspaper countless times. I have torn it up and begun again and torn it up again. Miss Brush will vouch for that. (MISS BRUSH murmurs modest agreement.) Hugh, you possess, no one can doubt it – the art of writing letters to the Times.

HUGH                        You flatter me, Lady Bruton.

LADY B                    You have such a command of language. You can put things as editors like them to be put. If you, Richard, advise me, and Hugh writes for me, I am sure of getting it right. I already have a selection of choice phrases use – such ‘we are of the opinion that the times are ripe’. Something about ‘the superfluous youth of our ever-increasing population’. A phrase about ‘what we owe to the dead’. That sort of thing.

RICHARD                  Yes, yes. All worthy of consideration.

LADY BRUTON       Miss Brush?

MISS BRUSH            Here, Lady Bruton.

LADY BRUTON       These are my notes and drafts. I am in your hands.

HUGH                        I shall be honoured to help, Lady Bruton. I can let you have something tomorrow.

LADY B                     You will come up with a masterpiece, I am sure.  I don’t know what I should do without you both. You must excuse me now.

HUGH                        Of course. Goodbye, Lady Bruton.

(Chairs scrape.)


(Satie mixes into CLARISSA’s bedroom. Soft breathing, mixing into SALLY’s Bourton bedroom.)

SALLY                        I have the most unreliable family in the world, you know.

CLARISSA                 I think it is hugely exciting. Mine is so dull. So ordinary.

SALLY                        So reassuring. (Beat.) Actually, I’ve run away from home.

CLARISSA                 How romantic!

SALLY                        Not really. I haven’t a penny.

CLARISSA                 What happened?

SALLY                        There was the most awful quarrel at home. I couldn’t bear it any more. Can I stay here?

CLARISSA                 Of course you can. We’ve plenty of room. You can sleep in my room.

SALLY                        It’s frightfully rude of me.

CLARISSA                 It’s a pleasure to have you here. You’re great fun, you know.

SALLY                        I had to pawn a pearl brooch to come down. I rushed off in such a passion. Oh, I nearly forgot. I brought you a book. It’s William Morris. I love William Morris. I mean to found a society to abolish private property. Will you join?

CLARISSA                 I don’t know. What’s it for?

SALLY                        To reform the world. Have you read Plato? I can read him all day. Clarissa, you are so kind. Come here.

(A soft kiss.)

CLARISSA                 Oh, Sally, my dear.

SALLY                        Thank you, Clarissa. For everything.

(Bedroom and soft breathing comes up.)

CLARISSA (waking, over)    A soft kiss. Full on the lips. Sally Seton. A match burning in a crocus. It was the most exquisite moment of my whole life. The whole world turned upside down. I was given a present. Not something to look at it, like a diamond, but something infinitely more precious. An inner meaning almost expressed. Was I in love with Sally? Am I still in love with Sally? Perhaps I felt what men feel.

(Big Ben, beginning to strike the half hour.)

It is over. It was just a moment. Everything must end.

Everything must die.

(Big Ben and bedroom mix into street.)


(RICHARD and HUGH’s footsteps. Footsteps stop.)

HUGH                        I say, Richard. Evelyn might like that Spanish necklace. Shall we go in?

RICHARD                  What a good idea. I could buy something for Clarissa.

HUGH                        Is it Clarissa’s birthday?

RICHARD                  No, no. I never give Clarissa presents, except a bracelet last year. She never wears it.

(Shop door bell.)

DUBONNET                         Good day, Mr Whitbread.

HUGH                         Good day. You have a Spanish necklace in the window. May I see it?

DUBONNET                         Certainly, sir.

RICHARD                  I would like to see some brooches. Perhaps with a stone or two?

DUBONNET                         Certainly, sir. I’ll bring you a selection. Excuse me.

HUGH                        Always a good thing, jewellery. Oh, Lord. We have to write that letter for Millicent by tomorrow.

RICHARD                  Frankly, I don’t care a straw what becomes of emigration.

HUGH                        No. But one must keep in with Millicent. She is very influential.

RICHARD                  Indeed.

HUGH                        How is your Elizabeth these days, Richard?

RICHARD                  If I had had a boy, I would have said work, work. But I adore Elizabeth.  I don’t mind what she does with her life. By the way, did you know that Peter Walsh has come back from India?

HUGH                        Odd. He can’t have been a success there. Otherwise why come back? Wasn’t he rather sweet on Clarissa?

RICHARD                  Yes. Such a bore.

DUBONNET                         Here we are, gentlemen.

(Trays on glass table. Gems.)

RICHARD                  Oh, this is impossible. Hugh. Help me decide.

HUGH                        I haven’t a clue, my dear chap.

DUBONNET                         This one is tasteful, sir. The brooch has a rather fine single ruby. It can be worn with anything.

HUGH                        After thirty-five years, you can trust Mr Dubonnet’s judgement.

DUBONNET (clears throat)             And for Mrs Whitbread.  Simplicity is best, I always think. (Jingle of silver necklace.)

RICHARD                  Thank you so much.

DUBONNET                         Excuse me, gentlemen.

(Wrapping paper in the background.)

HUGH                        How do you think Clarissa will take it – seeing Peter Walsh again?

RICHARD                  No idea, old chap. We’ve not spoken of him until this morning.  Probably a mistake. After not speaking and not speaking, the time comes when it is hard to say anything at all.

HUGH                        Buy her a bunch of roses, old chap. Jewellery and roses. That’s what women really like.

RICHARD                  Good idea. Thank you, Hugh.

(Satie. Street. Footsteps.)


RICHARD (over)       I must admit that I was terribly jealous of Peter Walsh and Clarissa. It’s a miracle, thinking of the war and thousands of poor chaps, already half forgotten. It’s a miracle that I was lucky enough to marry Clarissa. Perhaps I don’t tell her enough that I love her.

Partly one’s lazy. Partly one’s just shy. I shall buy Clarissa some flowers and tell her that I love her.


                        The wind is getting up. In Norfolk a soft, warm wind blows back the petals. Confuses the waters. Ruffles the grasses. Haymakers have pitched beneath hedges to sleep away the morning toil. They move globes of cow parsley to see the blue, steadfast, blazing summer sky. I wish I were in Norfolk now.

I will go home and tell Clarissa that I love her.

(Satie, and closing Announcements.)



Michelene Wandor: Dramatising Mrs Dalloway.

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