Virginia Woolf - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about Virginia Woolf

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Selected books about / related to this author

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Picture of Virginia Woolf, author of Jacob's Room; twentieth century American Literature
Virginia Woolf   (1882 - 1941)
Category:  English Literature
Born:  January 25, 1882
London, England
Died:  March 28, 1941
Rodmell, Sussex
Related authors:
Aphra Behn, Bertrand Russell, E. M. Forster, Edward Albee, Ephelia, Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, Katherine Mansfield, Lytton Strachey, Radclyffe Hall, T. S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Vita Sackville-West
list all writers
Virginia Woolf - LIFE STORIES
1/2/1885     Hardy, Casterbridge and Virginia Woolf
On this day in 1885 Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge began serialization. This was the first novel Hardy had written for weekly rather than monthly serialization; some early reviewers balked at its steady stream of drama and its "improbabilities of incident." When Virginia Woolf visited Hardy forty years later, shortly before his death, she told hm that she could not put his novel down.
3/23/1917     The Woolfs and the Press
On this day in 1917 Leonard and Virginia Woolf purchased a small, used handpress; a month later, it was delivered to Hogarth House, their West London home, and the Hogarth Press was born. Over the next three decades the Woolfs would refine their "rather eccentric and amusing printing antics", eventually publishing 525 titles over three decades, many of them by other influential modernists and most of them collector's items today.
3/28/1941     Virginia Woolf's "Dark Cupboard" of Suicide
Virginia Woolf's journal is in twenty-four volumes -- her most important writing, some critics think, and the first thing she salvaged from her bombed-out London house. While there is much on other topics, the journal documents her long struggle to both hear and silence the unwanted voices in her head; her last writing reveals that this "dark cupboard" virtually talked her to death.
5/5/1927     Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse
On this date in 1927 Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse was published. Many of the earliest reviews were lukewarm, compared to the modern view that the novel is one of the century's best, or to Woolf's own evaluation while working on it: "Never never have I written so easily, imagined so profusely.... Soft & pliable, & I think deep, & never a word wrong for a page at a time."
7/8/1923     Eliot and the Woolfs    read it now!
On this day in 1923, Virginia Woolf wrote to a friend that "I have just finished setting up the whole of Mr. Eliots [sic] poem with my own hands -- you see how my hand trembles." Though referring to the typesetting of the first English edition of The Waste Land, Woolf's trembling reflected her exhaustion from running the Hogarth Press rather than any presage of the moment's literary importance.
10/8/1931     Virginia Woolf, The Waves
On this day in 1931 Virginia Woolf's The Waves was published. She was just forty-nine, and she would live and write for another decade, but this was the last of her major works. Many also say it is the best, and when Leonard Woolf put a memorial plaque in the garden of their home, he chose from among its last lines: "Death is the enemy. Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!" The waves broke on the shore.
10/27/1922     Jacob's Room
On this day in 1922 Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room was published. This was the first full-length book put out by the Woolfs' Hogarth Press, with a Post-Impressionistic cover designed by sister Vanessa. It was "a new form for a new novel," wrote Woolf before starting; afterwards, she felt confident "that I have found out how to begin (at 40) to say something in my own voice," and that "Either I am a great writer or a nincompoop."
10/30/1811     Sense and Sensibility    read it now!
On this day in 1811 Jane Austen's first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published. Early reviewers found it to be "a genteel, well-written novel" as far as "domestic literature" went, and "just long enough to interest without fatiguing." Virginia Woolf would take a different view: "Sometimes it seems as if her creatures were born merely to give Jane Austen the supreme delight of slicing their heads off."
11/16/1928     Defending the First Lesbian Novel
On this day in 1928, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, regarded by most as the first lesbian novel, was judged by the British courts to be obscene. Many of the notable writers asked to defend the book excused themselves -- "for reasons you might guess," Virginia Woolf wrote, though "they generally put it down to the weak heart of a father or a cousin who is about to have twins."
12/14/1640     Aphra Behn, All Women    read it now!
On this day in 1640 Aphra Behn was baptized. The details of her birth and much of her "shady and amorous" life are unclear, but her place in literary history is certain: first epistolary novel, first philosophical novel, and a fifteen-play career which made her the first woman to earn her living by writing. "All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn," wrote Virginia Woolf, "for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds."
12/15/1922     He Do the Police in Different Voices
On this day in 1922 T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land (originally titled "He Do the Police in Different Voices") was published. Like many friends and acquaintances, Virginia Woolf thought Eliot an odd case, but her diary notes how compelling she found his after-dinner reading of his poem: "He sang it & chanted it & rhymed it. It has great beauty and force of phrase; symmetry; & tensity. What connects it together, I'm not so sure...."
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A Room of One's Own
literary history
Flush: A Biography
Jacob's Room
To the Lighthouse
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Virginia Woolf
by Hermione Lee
Virginia Woolf
by John Lehmann
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BBC Interviews
Woolf delivers a eulogy to words.

"Words, English words, are full of echoes, memories, associations. They've been out and about, on people's lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuris. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing today. They're stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they've contracted so many famous marriages in the past. ... In the old days of course, when English was a new language, writers could invent new words and use them. Nowadays, it's easy enough to invent new words, they spring to the lips whenever we see a new sight or feel a new sensation, but we cannot use them because the English language is old. ... In order to use new words properly, you have to invent a new language...."
The Bloomsbury Group
Offers concise biographies of many Bloomsbury figures, including Clive Bell, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, John Maynard Keynes, Desmond MacCarthy, Lytton Strachey, and Leonard and Virginia Woolf.

"They really were the progressives and the embodiment of the avant-garde in early years of this century. Every time we look at them again they seem to have something for the contemporary world, whether in sexual ethics, liberation, biography, economics, feminism or painting."
— Michael Holroyd, in the San Francisco Chronicle, 1995
Virginia Woolf Web
A comprehensive collection of links to electronic texts and online resources, including essays and literary criticism and analysis. Also home of The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, which produces Woolf-related events and publications.
Virginia Woolf's Psychiatric History
medical research
Detailed overview of Woolf's health and personality, featuring descriptions of both major breakdowns and minor illnesses, her suicide, and her sexual and family history. Her psychiatrists and their textbooks are described; there is a review of research on the relationship between creativity and psychiatric disorder; and an analysis of her literary output in relation to her health. Links, references and bibliography, and a brief recording of her voice are also provided.
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February 19, 2018
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