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Spotlights

What I Did This Summer – English Professor Beth Daugherty researching in the United Kingdom

What I Did This Summer – English Professor Beth Daugherty researching in the United Kingdom


By Beth Daugherty
Professor of English, Virginia Woolf historian

“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, . . . in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.” - Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

With Otterbein’s help, I got to enjoy London again this June, walking just about everywhere, or taking trains, and burrowing into archives for more tidbits about Virginia Woolf’s education. It was hard to believe at times: there I was, originally from a southeastern Ohio village, working in the University Library at Cambridge University or tramping the streets of Oxford to find Lady Margaret Hall, where I discovered all sorts of information about Miss Clay, a Greek tutor Virginia Woolf mentions once in a 1903 journal entry. Eureka! I had my end note.

Research is always like being a detective, but to be a detective in Cambridge? Oxford? Sussex? Reading? King’s College London? Morley College? The British Library? To overhear an archivist in the Lambeth Archives introducing 10-year old students to the joys of paper, local maps and history? “What a lark! What a plunge!” says Mrs. Dalloway, and that’s how I felt every day.

It was such a treat to be in England during another historic election. Reading newspapers filled with English, Scottish and Irish concerns, and not our own, was a new experience. We mourned the London Bridge attack and the Grenfell Tower fire. I walked past Parliament, in the Victoria Tower Gardens and through the Tate Modern museum. I enjoyed McVities biscuits and the Waitrose supermarket and the Ask Italian restaurant in Lewes, Sussex. I walked and walked and walked, to marvel at the London streets and skyline, to listen to the myriad English and international accents. I strolled through Bloomsbury daily, with its squares and bookstores and restaurants, and sometimes shopped at St. Pancras and ate at Kings Cross. To be living and studying and learning where Virginia Woolf lived is hard to express in words.

Yet, it all started at a small liberal arts college in Ohio when I was 18. My priceless London June this summer would never have happened if I hadn’t gone to college.

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Seeing the value Daugherty’s family placed on education and generosity is a part of what led to the Daugherty Promise Scholarship, an endowed scholarship for an English major set up by Daugherty and her husband, Gary, earlier this year as part of the Otterbein University “Where We Stand Matters” campaign. The couple contributed $25,000 to seed the scholarship with more to come through fundraising. Learn more about the Daugherty Promise Scholarship on the Otterbein STAND Campaign website.