Virginia Woolf Biography

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Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

(Adeline) Virginia (née Stephen) Woolf – English author, born in London. Daughter of Sir Leslie *Stephen and sister of Vanessa (wife of Clive *Bell), she married (1912) Leonard (Sidney) Woolf (1880–1969), printer, publisher and political writer. They established (1915) the Hogarth Press in Richmond. It was moved to Bloomsbury in the early 1920s and Virginia Woolf became a leading figure in the literary coterie known as the Bloomsbury set.

Meanwhile she had begun her career as a novelist with the publication of The Voyage Out (1915). Her novels are difficult but rewarding. She seldom uses direct narrative but is most concerned with the inner consciousness of her characters expressed by internal monologue, while the emotional intensity and symbolism of her language are more typical of poetry than prose. But she is not over-serious and sometimes, e.g. in the fantasy Orlando (1928, filmed in 1992), shows an impish sense of humour.

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Among the most characteristic of her novels are Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs Dalloway (1925), To The Lighthouse (1927) and The Waves (1931). She was also a distinguished essayist and showed her interest in social changes affecting women in, e.g., A Room of One’s Own (1929). Another aspect of her talent was shown by her biography of the artist and critic Roger Fry. Deeply depressive, she drowned herself.