The Dreadnought Hoax

Scope and Content

On 10 Feb 1910, Horace de Vere Cole, Adrian Stephen, Virginia Stephen (later Virginia Woolf), Duncan Grant, Anthony Buxton and Guy Ridley disguised themselves as a group of Abyssinian diplomats and British Foreign Office officials before requesting a tour of the HMS Dreadnought. Cole later alerted the press to the incident, questions were asked in the House of Commons and an article was printed in The Daily Mirror on the hoax.

In 1940 Woolf presented a speech on the affair to both her local WI branch at Rodmell and to the Memoir Club, an event that was attended and described by EM Forster.

The folder includes most of a typescript account of the Dreadnought Affair by Virginia Woolf, correspondence between Home and Country staff and with Leonard Woolf, typescript copy of text created by NFWI staff, correspondence with members of Rodmell WI.

Related Material

The missing pages of the manuscript are held in the Monks House Papers at the University of Sussex, reference Manuscripts A.27 'The Dreadnought' (pages 20, 21, 22), with a typed transcript and 5 pp typescript notes by Quentin Bell. The text of this appears in Appendix E of Bell's biography of Woolf, alongside extracts from Hansard and an extract from a letter connected with the event.

Further papers of Virginia Woolf are held by the following institutions:

Sussex University Library Special Collections (ref. SxMs 18 and SxMs 13 passim), New York Public Library, British Library, Manuscript Collections (ref. Add MS 70725-26, Add MSS 63351, Add MS 48974, Add MS 56234, Add MS 61837, Add MSS 51044-46), London University: University College London (UCL) Manuscripts Room (Ref. MS OGDEN 96 and MS 656, ALS 341, Harvard University: Houghton Library (ref. NUC MS 70-508), Cambridge University: King's College Archive Centre (refs. REF, WJHS, Rylands Papers/3/454 and JMK).