Virginia Woolf
Name: Virginia Woolf
Occupation: Novelist
Gender: Female
Birth Day: January 25, 1882
Death Date: Mar 28, 1941 (age 59)
Age: Aged 59
Birth Place: London, England
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius

Social Accounts

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was born on January 25, 1882 in London, England (59 years old). Virginia Woolf is a Novelist, zodiac sign: Aquarius. Nationality: England. Approx. Net Worth: $1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.).

Trivia

She was a prominent modernist author and member of the Bloomsbury Group, but she held a jealous animosity toward fellow modernist writer James Joyce.

Net Worth 2020

$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)
Find out more about Virginia Woolf net worth here.

Family Members

# Name Relationship Net Worth Salary Age Occupation
#1 George Herbert Duckworth Brother N/A N/A N/A
#2 Gerald Duckworth Brother N/A N/A N/A
#3 Thoby Stephen Brother N/A N/A N/A
#4 James Kenneth Stephen Cousin N/A N/A N/A
#5 Leslie Stephen Father N/A N/A N/A
#6 Julia Stephen Mother N/A N/A N/A
#7 Quentin Bell Nephew N/A N/A N/A
#8 Julian Bell Nephew N/A N/A N/A
#9 Angelica Garnett Niece N/A N/A N/A
#10 Laura Makepeace Stephen Sister N/A N/A N/A
#11 Stella Duckworth Sister N/A N/A N/A
#12 Vanessa Bell Vanessa Bell Sister $1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.) N/A 140 Painter
#13 Leonard Woolf Leonard Woolf Spouse $1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.) N/A 88 Autobiographer

Does Virginia Woolf Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Virginia Woolf died on Mar 28, 1941 (age 59).

Physique

Height Weight Hair Colour Eye Colour Blood Type Tattoo(s)
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Before Fame

She suffered nervous breakdowns following the early deaths of her mother, half-sister, and father. She began writing professionally in 1900 and she published her debut novel, The Voyage Out, fifteen years later.

Biography

Biography Timeline

1882

Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen on 25 January 1882 at 22 Hyde Park Gate in South Kensington, London, to Julia (née Jackson) (1846–1895) and Leslie Stephen (1832–1904), writer, historian, essayist, biographer and mountaineer. Julia Jackson was born in 1846 in Calcutta, Bengal, British India, to John Jackson and Maria "Mia" Theodosia Pattle, from two Anglo-Indian families. John Jackson FRCS was the third son of George Jackson and Mary Howard of Bengal, a physician who spent 25 years with the Bengal Medical Service and East India Company and a professor at the fledgling Calcutta Medical College. While John Jackson was an almost invisible presence, the Pattle family were famous beauties, and moved in the upper circles of Bengali society. The seven Pattle sisters married into important families. Julia Margaret Cameron was a celebrated photographer, while Virginia married Earl Somers, and their daughter, Julia Jackson's cousin, was Lady Henry Somerset, the temperance leader. Julia moved to England with her mother at the age of two and spent much of her early life with another of her mother's sisters, Sarah Monckton Pattle. Sarah and her husband Henry Thoby Prinsep, conducted an artistic and literary salon at Little Holland House where she came into contact with a number of Pre-Raphaelite painters such as Edward Burne-Jones, for whom she modelled.

1890

For the children, it was the highlight of the year, and Virginia's most vivid childhood memories were not of London but of Cornwall. In a diary entry of 22 March 1921, she described why she felt so connected to Talland House, looking back to a summer day in August 1890. "Why am I so incredibly and incurably romantic about Cornwall? One's past, I suppose; I see children running in the garden … The sound of the sea at night … almost forty years of life, all built on that, permeated by that: so much I could never explain". Cornwall inspired aspects of her work, in particular the "St Ives Trilogy" of Jacob's Room (1922), To the Lighthouse (1927), and The Waves (1931).

Virginia submitted her first article in 1890, to a competition in Tit-Bits. Although it was rejected, this shipboard romance by the 8-year-old would presage her first novel 25 years later, as would contributions to the Hyde Park News, such as the model letter "to show young people the right way to express what is in their hearts", a subtle commentary on her mother's legendary matchmaking. She transitioned from juvenilia to professional journalism in 1904 at the age of 22. Violet Dickinson introduced her to Mrs. Lyttelton, the editor of the Women's Supplement of The Guardian, a Church of England newspaper. Invited to submit a 1,500-word article, Virginia sent Lyttelton a review of W. D. Howells' The Son of Royal Langbirth and an essay about her visit to Haworth that year, Haworth, November 1904. The review was published anonymously on 4 December, and the essay on the 21st. In 1905, Woolf began writing for The Times Literary Supplement.

1891

In February 1891, with her sister Vanessa, Woolf began the Hyde Park Gate News, chronicling life and events within the Stephen family, and modelled on the popular magazine Tit-Bits. Initially, this was mainly Vanessa's and Thoby's articles, but very soon Virginia became the main contributor, with Vanessa as editor. Their mother's response when it first appeared was "Rather clever I think". Virginia would run the Hyde Park Gate News until 1895, the time of her mother's death. The following year the Stephen sisters also used photography to supplement their insights, as did Stella Duckworth. Vanessa Bell's 1892 portrait of her sister and parents in the Library at Talland House (see image) was one of the family's favourites and was written about lovingly in Leslie Stephen's memoir. In 1897 ("the first really lived year of my life)" Virginia began her first diary, which she kept for the next twelve years, and a notebook in 1909.

Virginia was, as she describes it, "born into a large connection, born not of rich parents, but of well-to-do parents, born into a very communicative, literate, letter writing, visiting, articulate, late nineteenth century world". It was a well-connected family consisting of six children, with two half brothers and a half sister (the Duckworths, from her mother's first marriage), another half sister, Laura (from her father's first marriage), and an older sister, Vanessa and brother Thoby. The following year, another brother Adrian followed. The disabled Laura Stephen lived with the family until she was institutionalised in 1891. Julia and Leslie had four children together:

1893

In both London and Cornwall, Julia was perpetually entertaining, and was notorious for her manipulation of her guests' lives, constantly matchmaking in the belief everyone should be married, the domestic equivalence of her philanthropy. As her husband observed, "My Julia was of course, though with all due reserve, a bit of a matchmaker". Amongst their guests in 1893 were the Brookes, whose children, including Rupert Brooke, played with the Stephen children. Rupert and his group of Cambridge Neo-pagans would come to play an important role in their lives in the years prior to the First World War. While Cornwall was supposed to be a summer respite, Julia Stephen soon immersed herself in the work of caring for the sick and poor there, as well as in London. Both at Hyde Park Gate and Talland House, the family mingled with much of the country's literary and artistic circles. Frequent guests included literary figures such as Henry James and George Meredith, as well as James Russell Lowell, and the children were exposed to much more intellectual conversations than at their mother's Little Holland House. The family did not return, following Julia Stephen's death in May 1895.

1895

Julia Stephen fell ill with influenza in February 1895, and never properly recovered, dying on 5 May, when Virginia was 13. This was a pivotal moment in her life and the beginning of her struggles with mental illness. Essentially, her life had fallen apart. The Duckworths were travelling abroad at the time of their mother's death, and Stella returned immediately to take charge and assume her role. That summer, rather than return to the memories of St Ives, the Stephens went to Freshwater, Isle of Wight, where a number of their mother's family lived. It was there that Virginia had the first of her many nervous breakdowns, and Vanessa was forced to assume some of her mother's role in caring for Virginia's mental state. Stella became engaged to Jack Hills the following year and they were married on 10 April 1897, making Virginia even more dependent on her older sister.

Much examination has been made of Woolf's mental health (e.g., see Mental health bibliography). From the age of 13, following the death of her mother, Woolf suffered periodic mood swings from severe depression to manic excitement, including psychotic episodes, which the family referred to as her "madness". But as Hermione Lee points out, she was not "mad,” she was merely a woman who suffered from and struggled with illness for much of her relatively short life, a woman of "exceptional courage, intelligence and stoicism,” a woman who made the best use, and achieved the best understanding, she could of that illness. Psychiatrists today consider that her illness constitutes bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). Her mother's death in 1895, "the greatest disaster that could happen,” precipitated a crisis of alternating excitability and depression accompanied by irrational fears, for which their family doctor, Dr. Seton, prescribed rest, stopping lessons and writing, and regular walks supervised by Stella. Yet, just two years later, Stella too was dead, bringing on her next crisis in 1897, and her first expressed wish for death at the age of fifteen, writing in her diary that October that "death would be shorter & less painful.” She then stopped keeping a diary for some time. This was a scenario she would later recreate in "Time Passes" (To the Lighthouse, 1927).

The intense scrutiny of Virginia Woolf's literary output (see Bibliography) has inevitably led to speculation as to her mother's influence, including psychoanalytic studies of mother and daughter. Woolf states that, "my first memory, and in fact it is the most important of all my memories" is of her mother. Her memories of her mother are memories of an obsession, starting with her first major breakdown on her mother's death in 1895, the loss having a profound lifelong effect. In many ways, her mother's profound influence on Virginia Woolf is conveyed in the latter's recollections, "there she is; beautiful, emphatic ... closer than any of the living are, lighting our random lives as with a burning torch, infinitely noble and delightful to her children".

1897

The death of Stella Duckworth on 19 July 1897, after a long illness, was a further blow to Virginia's sense of self, and the family dynamics. Woolf described the period following the death of both her mother and Stella as "1897–1904 – the seven unhappy years", referring to "the lash of a random unheeding flail that pointlessly and brutally killed the two people who should, normally and naturally, have made those years, not perhaps happy but normal and natural". In April 1902, their father became ill, and although he underwent surgery later that year he never fully recovered, dying on 22 February 1904. Virginia's father's death precipitated a further breakdown. Later, Virginia would describe this time as one in which she was dealt successive blows as a "broken chrysalis" with wings still creased. Chrysalis occurs many times in Woolf's writing but the "broken chrysalis" was an image that became a metaphor for those exploring the relationship between Woolf and grief. At his death, Leslie Stephen's net worth was £15,715 6s. 6d. (probate 23 March 1904)

Modern scholars, including her nephew and biographer, Quentin Bell, have suggested her breakdowns and subsequent recurring depressive periods were also influenced by the sexual abuse to which she and her sister Vanessa were subjected by their half-brothers George and Gerald Duckworth (which Woolf recalls in her autobiographical essays A Sketch of the Past and 22 Hyde Park Gate) (see Sexual abuse). Biographers point out that when Stella died in 1897, there was no counterbalance to control George's predation, and his nighttime prowling. Virginia describes him as her first lover, "The old ladies of Kensington and Belgravia never knew that George Duckworth was not only father and mother, brother and sister to those poor Stephen girls; he was their lover also.”

1900

Leonard Woolf was one of Thoby Stephen's friends at Trinity College, Cambridge, and noticed the Stephen sisters in Thoby's rooms there on their visits to the May Ball in 1900 and 1901. He recalls them in "white dresses and large hats, with parasols in their hands, their beauty literally took one's breath away". To him, they were silent, "formidable and alarming".

1901

Virginia had taken up book-binding as a pastime in October 1901, at the age of 19, and the Woolfs had been discussing setting up a publishing house for some time, and at the end of 1916 started making plans. Having discovered that they were not eligible to enroll in the St Bride School of Printing, they started purchasing supplies after seeking advice from the Excelsior Printing Supply Company on Farringdon Road in March 1917, and soon they had a printing press set up on their dining room table at Hogarth House, and the Hogarth Press was born.

1904

Virginia was born at 22 Hyde Park Gate and lived there till her father's death in 1904. Number 22 Hyde Park Gate, South Kensington, lay at the south-east end of Hyde Park Gate, a narrow cul-de-sac running south from Kensington Road, just west of the Royal Albert Hall, and opposite Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, where the family regularly took their walks (see Map; Street plan). Built in 1846 by Henry Payne of Hammersmith as one of a row of single-family townhouses for the upper middle class, it soon became too small for their expanding family. At the time of their marriage, it consisted of a basement, two stories, and an attic. In July 1886 Leslie Stephen obtained the services of J. W. Penfold, architect, to add additional living space above and behind the existing structure. The substantial renovations added a new top floor (see image of red brick extension), with three bedrooms and a study for himself, converted the original attic into rooms, and added the first bathroom. It was a tall but narrow townhouse, that at that time had no running water. Virginia would later describe it as "a very tall house on the left-hand side near the bottom which begins by being stucco and ends by being red brick; which is so high and yet—as I can say now that we have sold it—so rickety that it seems as if a very high wind would topple it over".

The death of her father in 1904 provoked her most alarming collapse, on 10 May, when she threw herself out of a window and she was briefly institutionalised under the care of her father's friend, the eminent psychiatrist George Savage. Savage blamed her education—frowned on by many at the time as unsuitable for women—for her illness. She spent time recovering at the house of Stella's friend Violet Dickinson, and at her aunt Caroline's house in Cambridge, and by January 1905, Dr Savage considered her "cured.” Violet, seventeen years older than Virginia, became one of her closest friends and one of her most effective nurses. She characterised this as a "romantic friendship" (Letter to Violet 4 May 1903). Her brother Thoby's death in 1906 marked a "decade of deaths” that ended her childhood and adolescence. From then on her life was punctuated by urgent voices from the grave that at times seemed more real than her visual reality.

1905

Vanessa found a house at 46 Gordon Square in Bloomsbury, and they moved in November, to be joined by Virginia now sufficiently recovered. It was at Gordon Square that the Stephens began to regularly entertain Thoby's intellectual friends in March 1905. The circle, which largely came from the Cambridge Apostles, included writers (Saxon Sydney-Turner, Lytton Strachey) and critics (Clive Bell, Desmond MacCarthy) with Thursday evening "At Homes" that became known as the Thursday Club, a vision of recreating Trinity College ("Cambridge in London"). This circle formed the nucleus of the intellectual circle of writers and artists known as the Bloomsbury Group. Later, it would include John Maynard Keynes (1907), Duncan Grant (1908), E. M. Forster (1910), Roger Fry (1910), Leonard Woolf (1911) and David Garnett (1914).

In 1905, Virginia and Adrian visited Portugal and Spain. Clive Bell proposed to Vanessa, but was declined, while Virginia began teaching evening classes at Morley College and Vanessa added another event to their calendar with the Friday Club, dedicated to the discussion of and later exhibition of the fine arts. This introduced some new people into their circle, including Vanessa's friends from the Royal Academy and Slade, such as Henry Lamb and Gwen Darwin (who became secretary), but also the eighteen-year-old Katherine Laird ("Ka") Cox (1887–1938), who was about to go up to Newnham. Although Virginia did not actually meet Ka until much later, Ka would come to play an important part in her life. Ka and others brought the Bloomsbury Group into contact with another, slightly younger, group of Cambridge intellectuals to whom the Stephen sisters gave the name "Neo-pagans". The Friday Club continued until 1913.

1907

The following year, 1906, Virginia suffered two further losses. Her cherished brother Thoby, who was only 26, died of typhoid, following a trip they had all taken to Greece, and immediately after Vanessa accepted Clive's third proposal. Vanessa and Clive were married in February 1907 and as a couple, their interest in avant-garde art would have an important influence on Woolf's further development as an author. With Vanessa's marriage, Virginia and Adrian needed to find a new home.

Virginia moved into 29 Fitzroy Square in April 1907, a house on the west side of the street, formerly occupied by George Bernard Shaw. It was in Fitzrovia, immediately to the west of Bloomsbury but still relatively close to her sister at Gordon Square. The two sisters continued to travel together, visiting Paris in March. Adrian was now to play a much larger part in Virginia's life, and they resumed the Thursday Club in October at their new home, while Gordon Square became the venue for the Play Reading Society in December. During this period, the group began to increasingly explore progressive ideas, first in speech, and then in conduct, Vanessa proclaiming in 1910 a libertarian society with sexual freedom for all.

1908

Meanwhile, Virginia began work on her first novel, Melymbrosia, that eventually became The Voyage Out (1915). Vanessa's first child, Julian was born in February 1908, and in September Virginia accompanied the Bells to Italy and France. It was during this time that Virginia's rivalry with her sister resurfaced, flirting with Clive, which he reciprocated, and which lasted on and off from 1908 to 1914, by which time her sister's marriage was breaking down. On 17 February 1909, Lytton Strachey proposed to Virginia and she accepted, but he then withdrew the offer.

1909

Woolf did not meet Virginia formally till 17 November 1904 when he dined with the Stephens at Gordon Square, to say goodbye before leaving to take up a position with the civil service in Ceylon, although she was aware of him through Thoby's stories. At that visit he noted that she was perfectly silent throughout the meal, and looked ill. In 1909, Lytton Strachey suggested to Woolf he should make her an offer of marriage. He did so, but received no answer. In June 1911, he returned to London on a one-year leave, but did not go back to Ceylon. In England again, Leonard renewed his contacts with family and friends. Three weeks after arriving he dined with Vanessa and Clive Bell at Gordon Square on 3 July, where they were later joined by Virginia and other members of what would later be called "Bloomsbury", and Leonard dates the group's formation to that night. In September, Virginia asked Leonard to join her at Little Talland House at Firle in Sussex for a long weekend. After that weekend they began seeing each other more frequently.

1910

Several members of the group attained notoriety in 1910 with the Dreadnought hoax, which Virginia participated in disguised as a male Abyssinian royal. Her complete 1940 talk on the hoax was discovered and is published in the memoirs collected in the expanded edition of The Platform of Time (2008).

Virginia was needing a country retreat to escape to, and on 24 December 1910 Virginia found a house for rent in Firle, Sussex, near Lewes (see Map). She obtained a lease and took possession of the house the following month, and named it 'Little Talland House", after their childhood home in Cornwall, although it was actually a new red gabled villa on the main street opposite the village hall. The lease was a short one and in October she and Leonard Woolf found Asham House at Asheham a few miles to the west, while walking along the Ouse from Firle. The house, at the end of a tree-lined road was a strange beautiful Regency-Gothic house in a lonely location. She described it as "flat, pale, serene, yellow-washed", without electricity or water and allegedly haunted. She took out a five-year lease jointly with Vanessa in the New Year, and they moved into it in February 1912, holding a house warming party on the 9th.

On Dr. Savage's recommendation, Virginia spent three short periods in 1910, 1912, and 1913 at Burley House at 15 Cambridge Park, Twickenham (see image), described as "a private nursing home for women with nervous disorder" run by Miss Jean Thomas. By the end of February 1910, she was becoming increasingly restless, and Dr. Savage suggested being away from London. Vanessa rented Moat House outside Canterbury in June but there was no improvement, so Dr. Savage sent her to Burley for a "rest cure.” This involved partial isolation, deprivation of literature, and force-feeding, and after six weeks she was able to convalesce in Cornwall and Dorset during the autumn. She loathed the experience; writing to her sister on 28 July she described how she found the phony religious atmosphere stifling and the institution ugly, and informed Vanessa that to escape "I shall soon have to jump out of a window.” The threat of being sent back would later lead to her contemplating suicide. Despite her protests, Savage would refer her back in 1912 for insomnia and in 1913 for depression. On emerging from Burley House in September 1913, she sought further opinions from two other physicians on the 13th, Maurice Wright, and Henry Head, who had been Henry James' physician. Both recommended she return to Burley House. Distraught, she returned home and attempted suicide by taking an overdose of 100 grains of veronal (a barbiturate) and nearly dying, had she not been found by Ka Cox who summoned help. On recovery, she went to Dalingridge Hall, George Duckworth's home in East Grinstead, Sussex, to convalesce on 30 September, accompanied by Ka Cox and a nurse, returning to Asham on 18 November with Janet Case and Ka Cox. She remained unstable over the next two years, with another incident involving veronal that she claimed was an "accident" and consulted another psychiatrist in April 1914, Maurice Craig, who explained that she was not sufficiently psychotic to be certified or committed to an institution. The rest of the summer of 1914 went better for her and they moved to Richmond, but in February 1915, just as The Voyage Out was due to be published, she relapsed once more and remained in poor health for most of that year. Then, despite Miss Thomas's gloomy prognosis, she began to recover following 20 years of ill health. Nevertheless, there was a feeling among those around her that she was now permanently changed, and not for the better.

1911

In October 1911, the lease on Fitzroy Square was running out and Virginia and Adrian decided to give up their home on Fitzroy Square in favour of a different living arrangement, moving to a four-storied house at 38 Brunswick Square in Bloomsbury proper in November. Virginia saw it as a new opportunity; "We are going to try all kinds of experiments," she told Ottoline Morrell. Adrian occupied the second floor, with Maynard Keynes and Duncan Grant sharing the ground floor. This arrangement for a single woman was considered scandalous, and George Duckworth was horrified. The house was adjacent to the Foundling Hospital, much to Virginia's amusement as an unchaperoned single woman. Originally, Ka Cox was supposed to share in the arrangements, but opposition came from Rupert Brooke, who was involved with her and pressured her to abandon the idea. At the house, Duncan Grant decorated Adrian Stephen's rooms (see image).

On 4 December 1911, Leonard moved into the ménage on Brunswick Square, occupying a bedroom and sitting room on the fourth floor, and started to see Virginia constantly and by the end of the month had decided he was in love with her. On 11 January 1912, he proposed to her; she asked for time to consider, so he asked for an extension of his leave and, on being refused, offered his resignation on 25 April, effective 20 May. He continued to pursue Virginia, and in a letter of 1 May 1912 (which see) she explained why she did not favour a marriage. However, on 29 May, Virginia told Leonard that she wished to marry him, and they were married on 10 August at the St Pancras Register Office. It was during this time that Leonard first became aware of Virginia's precarious mental state. The Woolfs continued to live at Brunswick Square until October 1912, when they moved to a small flat at 13 Clifford's Inn, further to the east (subsequently demolished). Despite his low material status (Woolf referring to Leonard during their engagement as a "penniless Jew"), the couple shared a close bond. Indeed, in 1937, Woolf wrote in her diary: "Love-making—after 25 years can't bear to be separate ... you see it is enormous pleasure being wanted: a wife. And our marriage so complete." However, Virginia made a suicide attempt in 1913.

During her time in Firle, Virginia became better acquainted with Rupert Brooke and his group of Neo-Pagans, pursuing socialism, vegetarianism, exercising outdoors and alternative life styles, including social nudity. They were influenced by the ethos of Bedales, Fabianism and Shelley. The women wore sandals, socks, open neck shirts and head-scarves, as Virginia does here. Although she had some reservations, Woolf was involved with their activities for a while, fascinated by their bucolic innocence in contrast to the sceptical intellectualism of Bloomsbury, which earned her the nickname "The Goat" from her brother Adrian. While Woolf liked to make much of a weekend she spent with Brooke at the vicarage in Grantchester, including swimming in the pool there, it appears to have been principally a literary assignation. They also shared a psychiatrist in the name of Maurice Craig. Through the Neo-Pagans, she finally met Ka Cox on a weekend in Oxford in January 1911, who had been part of the Friday Club circle and now became her friend and played an important part in dealing with her illnesses. Virginia nicknamed her "Bruin". At the same time, she found herself dragged into a triangular relationship involving Ka, Jacques Raverat and Gwen Darwin. She became resentful of the other couple, Jacques and Gwen, who married later in 1911, not the outcome Virginia had predicted or desired. They would later be referred to in both To the Lighthouse and The Years. The exclusion she felt evoked memories of both Stella Duckworth's marriage and her triangular involvement with Vanessa and Clive.

The two groups eventually fell out. Brooke pressured Ka into withdrawing from joining Virginia's ménage on Brunswick Square in late 1911, calling it a "bawdy-house" and by the end of 1912 he had vehemently turned against Bloomsbury. Later, she would write sardonically about Brooke, whose premature death resulted in his idealisation, and express regret about "the Neo-Paganism at that stage of my life". Virginia was deeply disappointed when Ka married William Edward Arnold-Forster in 1918, and became increasingly critical of her.

1912

A major influence on Woolf from 1912 onward was Russian literature as Woolf adopted many of its aesthetic conventions. The style of Fyodor Dostoyevsky with his depiction of a fluid mind in operation helped to influence Woolf's writings about a "discontinuous writing process", though Woolf objected to Dostoyevsky's obsession with "psychological extremity" and the "tumultuous flux of emotions" in his characters together with his right-wing, monarchist politics as Dostoyevsky was an ardent supporter of the autocracy of the Russian Empire. In contrast to her objections to Dostoyevsky's "exaggerated emotional pitch", Woolf found much to admire in the work of Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy. Woolf admired Chekhov for his stories of ordinary people living their lives, doing banal things and plots that had no neat endings. From Tolstoy, Woolf drew lessons about how a novelist should depict a character's psychological state and the interior tension within. From Ivan Turgenev, Woolf drew the lessons that there are multiple "I's" when writing a novel, and the novelist needed to balance those multiple versions of him- or herself to balance the "mundane facts" of a story vs. the writer's overreaching vision, which required a "total passion" for art.

1914

In October 1914, Leonard and Virginia Woolf moved away from Bloomsbury and central London to Richmond, living at 17 The Green, a home discussed by Leonard in his autobiography Beginning Again (1964). In early March 1915, the couple moved again, to nearby Hogarth House, Paradise Road, after which they named their publishing house. Virginia's first novel, The Voyage Out was published in 1915, followed by another suicide attempt. Despite the introduction of conscription in 1916, Leonard was exempted on medical grounds.

1915

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915 at the age of 33, by her half-brother's imprint, Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd. This novel was originally titled Melymbrosia, but Woolf repeatedly changed the draft. An earlier version of The Voyage Out has been reconstructed by Woolf scholar Louise DeSalvo and is now available to the public under the intended title. DeSalvo argues that many of the changes Woolf made in the text were in response to changes in her own life. The novel is set on a ship bound for South America, and a group of young Edwardians onboard and their various mismatched yearnings and misunderstandings. In the novel are hints of themes that would emerge in later work, including the gap between preceding thought and the spoken word that follows, and the lack of concordance between expression and underlying intention, together with how these reveal to us aspects of the nature of love.

1916

While at Asham Leonard and Virginia found a farmhouse in 1916, that was to let, about four miles away, which they thought would be ideal for her sister. Eventually, Vanessa came down to inspect it, and moved in in October of that year, taking it as a summer home for her family. The Charleston Farmhouse was to become the summer gathering place for the literary and artistic circle of the Bloomsbury Group.

1917

Leslie Stephen's eminence as an editor, critic, and biographer, and his connection to William Thackeray, meant his children were raised in an environment filled with the influences of a Victorian literary society. Henry James, George Henry Lewes, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, Edward Burne-Jones and Virginia's honorary godfather, James Russell Lowell, were among the visitors to the house. Julia Stephen was equally well connected. Her aunt was a pioneering early photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron, who was also a visitor to the Stephen household. The two Stephen sisters, Vanessa and Virginia, were almost three years apart in age. Virginia christened her older sister "the saint" and was far more inclined to exhibit her cleverness than her more reserved sister. Virginia resented the domesticity Victorian tradition forced on them, far more than her sister. They also competed for Thoby's affections. Virginia would later confess her ambivalence over this rivalry to Duncan Grant in 1917. "indeed one of the concealed worms of my life has been a sister's jealousy – of a sister I mean; and to feed this I have invented such a myth about her that I scarce know one from t'other".

Their first publication was Two Stories in July 1917, inscribed Publication No. 1, and consisted of two short stories, "The Mark on the Wall" by Virginia Woolf and Three Jews by Leonard Woolf. The work consisted of 32 pages, hand bound and sewn, and illustrated by woodcuts designed by Dora Carrington. The illustrations were a success, leading Virginia to remark that the press was "specially good at printing pictures, and we see that we must make a practice of always having pictures" (13 July 1917). The process took two and a half months with a production run of 150 copies. Other short short stories followed, including Kew Gardens (1919) with a woodblock by Vanessa Bell as frontispiece. Subsequently, Bell added further illustrations, adorning each page of the text.

Another influence on Woolf was the American writer Henry David Thoreau, with Woolf writing in a 1917 essay that her aim as a writer was to follow Thoreau by capturing "the moment, to burn always with this hard, gem-like flame" while praising Thoreau for his statement "The millions are awake enough for physical labor, but only one in hundreds of millions is awake enough to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive". Woolf praised Thoreau for his "simplicity" in finding "a way for setting free the delicate and complicated machinery of the soul". Like Thoreau, Woolf believed that it was silence that set the mind free to really contemplate and understand the world. Both authors believed in a certain transcendental, mystical approach to life and writing, where even banal things could be capable of generating deep emotions if one had enough silence and the presence of mind to appreciate them. Woolf and Thoreau were both concerned with the difficulty of human relationships in the modern age. Other notable influences include William Shakespeare, George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, Marcel Proust, Anton Chekhov, Emily Brontë, Daniel Defoe, James Joyce, and E. M. Forster.

1918

After the end of the war, in 1918, the Woolfs were given a year's notice by the landlord, who needed the house. In mid-1919, "in despair", they purchased "a very strange little house" for £300, the Round House in Pipe Passage, Lewes, a converted windmill. No sooner had they bought the Round House, than Monk's House in nearby Rodmell, came up for auction, a weatherboarded house with oak beamed rooms, said to be 15th or 16th century. The Leonards favoured the latter because of its orchard and garden, and sold the Round House, to purchase Monk's House for £700. Monk's House also lacked water and electricity, but came with an acre of garden, and had a view across the Ouse towards the hills of the South Downs. Leonard Woolf describes this view (and the amenities) as being unchanged since the days of Chaucer. From 1940 it became their permanent home after their London home was bombed, and Virginia continued to live there until her death. Meanwhile, Vanessa had also made Charleston her permanent home in 1936. It was at Monk's House that Virginia completed Between the Acts in early 1941, followed by a further breakdown directly resulting in her suicide on 28 March 1941, the novel being published posthumously later that year.

1920

1920 saw a postwar reconstitution of the Bloomsbury Group, under the title of the Memoir Club, which as the name suggests focussed on self-writing, in the manner of Proust's A La Recherche, and inspired some of the most influential books of the twentieth century. The Group, which had been scattered by the war, was reconvened by Mary ('Molly') MacCarthy who called them "Bloomsberries", and operated under rules derived from the Cambridge Apostles, an elite university debating society that a number of them had been members of. These rules emphasised candour and openness. Among the 125 memoirs presented, Virginia contributed three that were published posthumously in 1976, in the autobiographical anthology Moments of Being. These were 22 Hyde Park Gate (1921), Old Bloomsbury (1922) and Am I a Snob? (1936).

1922

The ethos of the Bloomsbury group encouraged a liberal approach to sexuality, and on 14 December 1922 Woolf met the writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West, wife of Harold Nicolson, while dining with Clive Bell. Writing in her diary the next day, she referred to meeting "the lovely gifted aristocratic Sackville West". At the time, Sackville-West was the more successful writer as both poet and novelist, commercially and critically, and it was not until after Woolf's death that she became considered the better writer. After a tentative start, they began a sexual relationship, which, according to Sackville-West in a letter to her husband on 17 August 1926, was only twice consummated. The relationship reached its peak between 1925 and 1928, evolving into more of a friendship through the 1930s, though Woolf was also inclined to brag of her affairs with other women within her intimate circle, such as Sibyl Colefax and Comtesse de Polignac. This period of intimacy was to prove fruitful for both authors, Woolf producing three novels, To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928) and The Waves (1931) as well as a number of essays, including "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown" (1924) and "A Letter to a Young Poet" (1932).

1923

Virginia Woolf researched the life of her great-aunt, the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, publishing her findings in an essay titled Pattledom (1925), and later in her introduction to her 1926 edition of Cameron's photographs. She had begun work on a play based on an episode in Cameron's life in 1923, but abandoned it. Finally it was performed on 18 January 1935 at the studio of her sister, Vanessa Bell on Fitzroy Street in 1935. Woolf directed it herself, and the cast were mainly members of the Bloomsbury Group, including herself. Freshwater is a short three act comedy satirising the Victorian era, only performed once in Woolf's lifetime. Beneath the comedic elements, there is an exploration of both generational change and artistic freedom. Both Cameron and Woolf fought against the class and gender dynamics of Victorianism and the play shows links to both To the Lighthouse and A Room of One's Own that would follow.

1924

Between 1924 and 1940, the Woolfs returned to Bloomsbury, taking out a ten-year lease at 52 Tavistock Square, from where they ran the Hogarth Press from the basement, where Virginia also had her writing room, and is commemorated with a bust of her in the square (see illustration). 1925 saw the publication of Mrs Dalloway in May followed by her collapse while at Charleston in August. In 1927, her next novel, To the Lighthouse, was published, and the following year she lectured on Women & Fiction at Cambridge University and published Orlando in October. Her two Cambridge lectures then became the basis for her major essay A Room of One's Own in 1929. Virginia wrote only one drama, Freshwater, based on her great-aunt Julia Margaret Cameron, and produced at her sister's studio on Fitzroy Street in 1935. 1936 saw another collapse of her health following the completion of The Years.

1928

In 1928, Woolf presented Sackville-West with Orlando, a fantastical biography in which the eponymous hero's life spans three centuries and both sexes. It was published in October, shortly after the two women spent a week travelling together in France, that September. Nigel Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West's son, wrote, "The effect of Vita on Virginia is all contained in Orlando, the longest and most charming love letter in literature, in which she explores Vita, weaves her in and out of the centuries, tosses her from one sex to the other, plays with her, dresses her in furs, lace and emeralds, teases her, flirts with her, drops a veil of mist around her." After their affair ended, the two women remained friends until Woolf's death in 1941. Virginia Woolf also remained close to her surviving siblings, Adrian and Vanessa; Thoby had died of typhoid fever at the age of 26.

1930

It is likely that other factors also played a part. It has been suggested that these include genetic predisposition, for both trauma and family history have been implicated in bipolar disorder. Virginia's father, Leslie Stephen, suffered from depression, and her half-sister Laura was institutionalised. Many of Virginia's symptoms, including persistent headache, insomnia, irritability, and anxiety resemble those of her father. Another factor is the pressure she placed upon herself in her work; for instance, her breakdown of 1913 was at least partly triggered by the need to finish The Voyage Out. Virginia herself hinted that her illness was related to how she saw the repressed position of women in society, when she wrote in A Room of One's Own that had Shakespeare had a sister of equal genius, "she would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at.” These inspirations emerged from what Woolf referred to as her lava of madness, describing her time at Burley in a 1930 letter to Ethel Smyth:

1931

The Years (1941), traces the history of the genteel Pargiter family from the 1880s to the "present day" of the mid-1930s. The novel had its origin in a lecture Woolf gave to the National Society for Women's Service in 1931, an edited version of which would later be published as "Professions for Women". Woolf first thought of making this lecture the basis of a new book-length essay on women, this time taking a broader view of their economic and social life, rather than focusing on women as artists, as the first book had. She soon jettisoned the theoretical framework of her "novel-essay" and began to rework the book solely as a fictional narrative, but some of the non-fiction material she first intended for this book was later used in Three Guineas (1938).

1932

Flush: A Biography (1933) is a part-fiction, part-biography of the cocker spaniel owned by Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The book is written from the dog's point of view. Woolf was inspired to write this book from the success of the Rudolf Besier play The Barretts of Wimpole Street. In the play, Flush is on stage for much of the action. The play was produced for the first time in 1932 by the actress Katharine Cornell.

1933

Sackville-West was the first to argue to Woolf she had been misdiagnosed, and that it was far better to engage in reading and writing to calm her nerves—advice that was taken. Under the influence of Sackville-West, Woolf learned to deal with her nervous ailments by switching between various forms of intellectual activities such as reading, writing and book reviews, instead of spending her time in physical activities that sapped her strength and worsened her nerves. Sackville-West chose the financially struggling Hogarth Press as her publisher to assist the Woolfs financially. Seducers in Ecuador, the first of the novels by Sackville-West published by Hogarth, was not a success, selling only 1500 copies in its first year, but the next Sackville-West novel they published, The Edwardians, was a best-seller that sold 30,000 copies in its first six months. Sackville-West's novels, though not typical of the Hogarth Press, saved Hogarth, taking them from the red into the black. However, Woolf was not always appreciative of the fact that it was Sackville-West's books that kept the Hogarth Press profitable, writing dismissively in 1933 of her "servant girl" novels. The financial security allowed by the good sales of Sackville-West's novels in turn allowed Woolf to engage in more experimental work, such as The Waves, as Woolf had to be cautious when she depended upon Hogarth entirely for her income.

1936

Woolf's fiction has been studied for its insight into many themes including war, shell shock, witchcraft, and the role of social class in contemporary modern British society. In the postwar Mrs Dalloway (1925), Woolf addresses the moral dilemma of war and its effects and provides an authentic voice for soldiers returning from World War I, suffering from shell shock, in the person of Septimus Smith. In A Room of One's Own (1929) Woolf equates historical accusations of witchcraft with creativity and genius among women "When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, ...then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen". Throughout her work Woolf tried to evaluate the degree to which her privileged background framed the lens through which she viewed class. She both examined her own position as someone who would be considered an elitist snob, but attacked the class structure of Britain as she found it. In her 1936 essay Am I a Snob?, she examined her values and those of the privileged circle she existed in. She concluded she was, and subsequent critics and supporters have tried to deal with the dilemma of being both elite and a social critic.

1937

Later, between the ages of 15 and 19, Virginia was able to pursue higher education. She took courses of study, some at degree level, in beginning and advanced Ancient Greek, intermediate Latin and German, together with continental and English history at the Ladies' Department of King's College London at nearby 13 Kensington Square between 1897 and 1901. She studied Greek under the eminent scholar George Charles Winter Warr, professor of Classical Literature at King's. In addition she had private tutoring in German, Greek and Latin. One of her Greek tutors was Clara Pater (1899–1900), who taught at King's. Another was Janet Case, who involved her in the women's rights movement, and whose obituary Virginia would later write in 1937. Her experiences there led to her 1925 essay "On Not Knowing Greek". Her time at King's also brought her into contact with some of the early reformers of women's higher education such as the principal of the Ladies' Department, Lilian Faithfull (one of the so-called steamboat ladies), in addition to Pater. Her sister Vanessa also enrolled at the Ladies' Department (1899–1901). Although the Stephen girls could not attend Cambridge, they were to be profoundly influenced by their brothers' experiences there. When Thoby went up to Trinity in 1899, he befriended a circle of young men, including Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey, Leonard Woolf (whom Virginia would later marry) and Saxon Sydney-Turner, that he would soon introduce to his sisters at the Trinity May Ball in 1900. These men formed a reading group they named the Midnight Society.

1938

The press subsequently published Virginia's novels along with works by T. S. Eliot, Laurens van der Post, and others. The Press also commissioned works by contemporary artists, including Dora Carrington and Vanessa Bell. Woolf believed that to break free of a patriarchal society women writers needed a "room of their own" to develop and often fantasised about an "Outsider's Society" where women writers would create a virtual private space for themselves via their writings to develop a feminist critique of society. Though Woolf never created the "Outsider's society", the Hogarth Press was the closest approximation as the Woolfs chose to publish books by writers that took unconventional points of view to form a reading community. Initially the press concentrated on small experimental publications, of little interest to large commercial publishers. Until 1930, Woolf often helped her husband print the Hogarth books as the money for employees was not there. Virginia relinquished her interest in 1938, following a third attempted suicide. After it was bombed in September 1940, the press was moved to Letchworth for the remainder of the war. Both the Woolfs were internationalists and pacifists who believed that promoting understanding between peoples was the best way to avoid another world war and chose quite consciously to publish works by foreign authors of whom the British reading public were unaware. The first non-British author to be published was the Soviet writer Maxim Gorky, the book Reminiscences of Leo Nikolaiovich Tolstoy in 1920, dealing with his friendship with Count Leo Tolstoy.

1940

The Woolf's final residence in London was at 37 Mecklenburgh Square (1939–1940), destroyed during the Blitz in September 1940; a month later their previous home on Tavistock Square was also destroyed. After that, they made Sussex their permanent home. For descriptions and illustrations of all Virginia Woolf's London homes, see Jean Moorcroft Wilson's book Virginia Woolf, Life and London: A Biography of Place (pub. Cecil Woolf, 1987).

Over the rest of her life she suffered recurrent bouts of depression. In 1940 a number of factors appeared to overwhelm her. Her biography of Roger Fry had been published in July and she had been disappointed in its reception. The horrors of war depressed her and their London homes had been destroyed in the Blitz in September and October. She had completed Between the Acts (1941 posthumously) in November, and completing a novel was frequently accompanied by exhaustion. Her health became increasingly a matter of concern, culminating in her decision to end her life on 28 March 1941.

1941

After World War II began, Woolf's diary indicates that she was obsessed with death, which figured more and more as her mood darkened. On 28 March 1941, Woolf drowned herself by filling her overcoat pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home. Her body was not found until 18 April. Her husband buried her cremated remains beneath an elm tree in the garden of Monk's House, their home in Rodmell, Sussex.

1947

Woolf wrote a body of autobiographical work and more than five hundred essays and reviews, some of which, like A Room of One's Own (1929) were of book length. Not all were published in her lifetime. Shortly after her death, Leonard Woolf produced an edited edition of unpublished essays titled The Moment and other Essays, published by the Hogarth Press in 1947. Many of these were originally lectures that she gave, and several more volumes of essays followed, such as The Captain's death bed: and other essays (1950).

1953

It was at Asham that the Woolfs spent their wedding night later that year. At Asham, she recorded the events of the weekends and holidays they spent there in her Asham Diary, part of which was later published as A Writer's Diary in 1953. In terms of creative writing, The Voyage Out was completed there, and much of Night and Day. Asham provided Woolf with well needed relief from the pace of London life and was where she found a happiness that she expressed in her diary of 5 May 1919 "Oh, but how happy we've been at Asheham! It was a most melodious time. Everything went so freely; – but I can't analyse all the sources of my joy". Asham was also the inspiration for A Haunted House (1921–1944), and was painted by members of the Bloomsbury Group, including Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry. It was during these times at Asham that Ka Cox (seen here) started to devote herself to Virginia and become very useful.

1972

Though at least one biography of Virginia Woolf appeared in her lifetime, the first authoritative study of her life was published in 1972 by her nephew Quentin Bell. Hermione Lee's 1996 biography Virginia Woolf provides a thorough and authoritative examination of Woolf's life and work, which she discussed in an interview in 1997. In 2001, Louise DeSalvo and Mitchell A. Leaska edited The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Julia Briggs's Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life (2005) focuses on Woolf's writing, including her novels and her commentary on the creative process, to illuminate her life. The sociologist Pierre Bourdieu also uses Woolf's literature to understand and analyse gender domination. Woolf biographer Gillian Gill notes that Woolf's traumatic experience of sexual abuse by her half-brothers during her childhood influenced her advocacy of protection of vulnerable children from similar experiences.

1997

"Recently, studies of Virginia Woolf have focused on feminist and lesbian themes in her work, such as in the 1997 collection of critical essays, Virginia Woolf: Lesbian Readings, edited by Eileen Barrett and Patricia Cramer." In 1928, Virginia Woolf took a grassroots approach to informing and inspiring feminism. She addressed undergraduate women at the ODTAA Society at Girton College, Cambridge and the Arts Society at Newnham College with two papers that eventually became A Room of One's Own (1929). Woolf's best-known nonfiction works, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938), examine the difficulties that female writers and intellectuals faced because men held disproportionate legal and economic power, as well as the future of women in education and society, as the societal effects of industrialisation and birth control had not yet fully been realised. In The Second Sex (1949), Simone de Beauvoir counts, of all women who ever lived, only three female writers—Emily Brontë, Woolf and "sometimes" Katherine Mansfield— have explored "the given."

1999

see Lee 1999, pp. xviii–xvix, Bell 1972, pp. x–xi, Bicknell 1996, p. xx harvnb error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFBicknell1996 (help),Venn 1904

2011

A number of Virginia Woolf's works have been adapted for the screen, and her play Freshwater (1935) is the basis for a 1994 chamber opera, Freshwater, by Andy Vores. The final segment of the 2018 Anthology film London Unplugged is adapted from her short story Kew Gardens. Septimus and Clarissa, a stage adaptation of Mrs. Dalloway was created and produced by the New York-based ensemble Ripe Time (www.ripetime.org) in 2011 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. It was adapted by Ellen McLaughlin and directed and devised by Rachel Dickstein. It was nominated for a 2012 Drama League award for Outstanding Production, a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Score (Gina Leishman) and a Joe A. Calloway Award nomination for outstanding direction (Rachel Dickstein.)

2013

In 2013, Woolf was honoured by her alma mater of King's College London with the opening of the Virginia Woolf Building on Kingsway, with a plaque commemorating her time there and her contributions (see image), together with this exhibit depicting her accompanied by a quotation "London itself perpetually attracts, stimulates, gives me a play & a story & a poem" from her 1926 diary. Busts of Virginia Woolf have been erected at her home in Rodmell, Sussex and at Tavistock Square, London where she lived between 1924 and 1939.

2014

In 2014 she was one of the inaugural honorees in the Rainbow Honor Walk, a walk of fame in San Francisco's Castro neighbourhood noting LGBTQ people who have "made significant contributions in their fields."

A women's co-working space in Singapore, "Woolf Works", opened in 2014 and was named after her in tribute to the essay A Room of One's Own, which essay has many other things named after it (see the essay's article).

2018

A campaign was launched in 2018 by Aurora Metro Arts and Media to erect a statue of Woolf in Richmond, where she lived for ten years. The statue would consist of her reclining on a bench overlooking the river Thames.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Virginia Woolf is 140 years, 5 months and 1 days old. Virginia Woolf will celebrate 141st birthday on a Wednesday 25th of January 2023.

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