April 14, 2016

Virginia Woolf

20th century English novelist, essayist, publisher, and critic
Virginia Woolf


  • Full Name: Adeline Virginia Woolf
  • Birth Name: Adeline Virginia Stephen
  • AKA: Virginia Woolf
  • Date of Birth: 25 January 1882
  • Place of Birth: Kensington, Middlesex, England
  • Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
  • Physique: Slender
  • Height: 5 ft 7 in
  • Eye Colour: Grey
  • Hair Colour: Light Brown
  • Nationality: British
  • Death: 28 March 1941
  • Place of Death: River Ouse, near Lewes, Sussex, England
  • Epitaph: “Beneath this tree are buried the ashes of Virginia Woolf. Born January 25 1882, Died March 28 1941. Death is the enemy. Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding o Death! The waves broke on the shore.”
  • Cause of Death: Suicide
  • Place of Burial: Monk's House Grounds, Rodmell, East Sussex, England
  • Father: Sir Leslie Stephen (1832–1904)
  • Mother: Julia Jackson Duckworth (1846–1895)
  • Siblings:
1. Sister- Vanessa Stephen Bell (1879-1961)
2. Brother- Thoby Stephen (1880-1906)
3. Brother- Adrian Stephen (1883-1948)
5. Half- brother (mother's side): George Duckworth (1868-1934)
6. Half- sister (mother's side): Stella Duckworth (1869-1897)
4. Half- sister (father's side): Laura Makepeace Stephen (1870-1945)
7. Half- brother (mother's side): Gerald Duckworth (1870-1937)
  • Spouse: Leonard Woolf (b. 1880-d. 1969; m. 1912–1941till her death)
  • Children: None
  • Known for: founding the modernist movement in British literature, especially the feminist literary criticism.
  • Criticized for: writing by intuition and feelings rather than by a scientific, analytical or systematic method.
  • Influences: Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 –1894), Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862), Walt Whitman (1819 –1892), James Russell Lowell (1819 –1891), Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Roger Fry (1866–1934)
  • Influenced: Bertrand Russell (1872 –1970), E.M. Forster (1879 – 1970), Leonard Woolf (1880 –1969), Lytton Strachey (1880 –1932), Clive Bell (1881 –1964), T.S Eliot (1888 –1965), Sylvia Plath (1932 –1963), Pat Barker (b.1943), Vanessa Grant, Annie Dillard (b. 1945), Rebeca Solnit (b. 1961), Toby Litt (b. 1968),


“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Major Themes

  • Life & Death
  • Passage of Time
  • Human Consciousness
  • Feminine Sensibility
  • Gender Relation
  • Consequences of War
  • Class Hierarchy
  • Sanity & Insanity
  • Loneliness
  • Complexity of human relationships
  • Exploration of the human personality

Notable Works

  1. The Voyage Out (26 March 1915, Duckworth; U.S. pub. by Doran, May 1920)
  2. Two Stories (1917)
  3. Kew Gardens (12 May 1919)
  4. Night and Day (20 Oct 1919, Duckworth; U.S. pub. Doran, 1920)
  5. Monday or Tuesday (7 April 1921; U.S. pub. Harcourt Brace, Nov. 1921)
  6. Jacob’s Room (27 Oct 1922; U.S. pub. Harcourt Brace, 1922)
  7. Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown (1923)
  8. The Common Reader (First Series, 23 Apr 1925)
  9. Mrs. Dalloway (14 May 1925; simultaneously in England and U.S.)
  10. To the Lighthouse (5 May 1927)
  11. Orlando (2 October 1928)
  12. A Room of One’s Own (24 Oct 1929)
  13. The Waves (October 1931)
  14. The Common Reader (Second Series, 1932)
  15. Flush (5 October 1933)
  16. The Years (13 March 1937]
  17. Three Guineas (4 June 1938)
  18. Roger Fry (25 July 1940)
  19. Between the Acts (17 July 1941)
  20. A Writer’s Diary (posthumously, UK 1953)
  21. Moments of Being (posthumously, US 1976, ed. Jeanne Schulkind)

Did You Know?

  • Virginia’s mother, Julia Jackson, died when she was only thirteen years old.
  • Her father, Sir Leslie Stephen was a prominent historian, author, critic, and a founding editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Both of her parents were married previously.
  • Her father was previously married to Harriet Marian (Minny) Thackeray (1840–1875), the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray.
  • Although her brothers attended college, Virginia and her sisters did not receive a formal education.
  • Throughout her life Virginia suffered from bipolar disorder, which is characterized by alternating moods of mania and depression. That mental instability led her towards numerous suicide attempts.
  • In March of 1941 she drowned herself by filling her overcoat pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home.
  • In her suicide note she told Leonard that: “I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”
  • Woolf's body was not found until 18 April 1941.
  • Although Leonard proposed Virginia for marriage in several occasions, she refused due to her phobia for physical intercourse. However, Virginia couldn’t discard his third proposal and married Leonard Woolf on 10 August 1912.
  • During their honeymoon Leonard first came to learn about Virginia’s apathy for sex, which probably ensued from traumatic sexual abuse as a child.
  • Although Virginia wanted to have children, her doctor advised her to abstain from motherhood due to her mental instability.
  • Once Virginia thought of marrying the British writer Lytton Strachey partially because he was a homosexual and she considered him more of a brother than a sexual partner.
  • After her father’s demise Virginia together with other writers and artists such as, Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Rupert Brooke, Saxon Sydney-Turner, Duncan Grant, Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, David Garnett, and Roger Fry forged the Bloomsbury Group.
  • In 1917 Leonard and Virginia founded the Hogarth Press, which basically interested in publishing books by young and unknown writers. Although depended on hand-printing, the Hogarth Press published many important books including Prelude by Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923), Poems by T. S. Eliot (1888–1965). Even much of Virginia’s works was self-published through the Hogarth Press.
  • Her last work A Writer's Diary was published posthumously in 1953.
  • Virginia contributed a lot in initiating the modernist movement in literature by abandoning the traditional narrative style and pioneering the use of stream of consciousness.

Media Gallery

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Virginia and Leonard in 1912 during their engagement

Virginia and Leonard

Virginia and Leonard


" Virginia Woolf.” Wikipedia. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 April 2016
< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Woolf>.

“Virginia Woolf.” Microsoft Encarta. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft, 2005.

" Virginia Woolf.” Shmoop. 2016. Shmoop University. 2 April 2016
< http://www.shmoop.com/virginia-woolf/>.

Tanvir Shameem Tanvir Shameem is not the biggest fan of teaching, but he is doing his best to write on various topics of language and literature just to guide thousands of students and researchers across the globe. You can always find him experimenting with presentation, style and diction. He will contribute as long as time permits. You can find him on:


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