Plans for a bronze statue of Virginia Woolf overlooking the River Thames were approved by Richmond Council's environment, sustainability, culture, and sports committee. But not everyone in the community approves.

Barry May, chairman of the Richmond Society, a local conservation group, calls the placement of the artwork "insensitive and reckless." He told The Guardian that anyone in a vulnerable state and aware she committed suicide in a river would find it distressing.

At the water's edge

The naysayers are getting some pushback. Conservative councilor Kate Howard thinks it's "poignant to have a statue near the river as a reminder of how easily water can overcome you." Liberal Democrat councilor James Chard objects to defining Woolfe by her mental illness or the manner of her death.

Moving the statue away from the river "would be to allow Virginia Woolf to be defined in that way."

But wait, isn't there's another problem with the plans for this sculpture - the sculpture itself? Consider the semblance of Woolf lounging on a park bench with one arm stretched casually along the back of the bench. The at-ease look doesn't fit the real-life picture of Woolf, who, after several suicide attempts, was so distraught that she filled her pockets with stones and walked into a river near her home in Sussex to end a long history of mental illness.

She was institutionalized several times, suffering periodic mood swings from severe depression to manic excitement, including psychotic episodes that included throwing herself out of a window.

Whether excited or depressed, it's hard to think of her idly reposing on a park bench.

No rest for the weary

For all her suffering, was Woolf ever as relaxed as the monument describes, even despite a prolific career and innovation of the stream of consciousness narrative to tell a story? Biographies note that her writing helped stave off attacks of depression.

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Sitting on a park bench doing nothing probably was never an option for her.

As she told her husband in her suicide note, she was starting to hear voices and could no longer concentrate. Without writing, she couldn't go on.

When Woolf concentrated, she wrote notable books like "A Room of One's Own" and "Mrs. Dalloway." But it's her first novel, "The Voyage Out," that comes to mind when considering the Woolf statue.

It's a story of self-discovery not unlike hers, and like hers, it ends in death. Her experiences informed her work, like the character of Septimus Warren Smith in "Mrs. Dalloway," who, like Woolf, took his own life rather than be admitted to a sanitorium.

All that said, Laury Dizengremel, the sculptor who designed the Woolf statue, believes in it so much that she's willing to raise money for it. "I am utterly convinced Virginia Woolf fans the world over are going to get behind this project." Part of the lure would be that people could sit on the bench with the writer and interact with her. Being a loner, I'm not sure she would like that.