Virginia Woolf

(1882-1941), English writer

Virginia Woolf (born as Adeline Virginia Stephen) was an English author who was born in London, England, on January 25, 1882, and died on March 28, 1941, close to Rodmell, Sussex. Her nonlinear narrative styles had a significant impact on the genre.

Although Woolf’s books, particularly ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ (1925) and ‘To the Lighthouse’ (1927), are what she is most known for, she also published groundbreaking essays on creative theory, literary history, women’s literature, and power politics. She was a skilled stylist who tried her hand at many biographical writing styles, created painterly short stories, and sent her friends and family a lifetime’s worth of wonderful letters.

Life Facts

  • Virginia Woolf was born on January 25th, 1882.
  • She died on March 28th, 1941.
  • She was born in London, England.

Interesting Facts

  • She lost her mother when she was just 13, which had a significant impact on her life.
  • She had manic depression for most of her adult life.
  • She committed suicide by drowning.

Famous Books by Virginia Woolf

    • To the Lighthouse: To enter ‘To the Lighthouse’, Woolf’s magnum opus from 1927, is to plunge headfirst into a sea of vivid viewpoints and impeccable prose. Few writers can convey the breadth of human feelings and frustrations in this work, much less do it in the 209 pages that Woolf provides. ‘To the Lighthouse’ explores the frailties of life and human relationships in breathtaking prose through the minds and hearts of Woolf’s characters as they struggle to achieve a state of permanence within an ever-changing ephemeral existence.

    • Mrs. Dalloway: This book—hailed as one of Virginia Woolf’s best—is a detailed account of a single day in a woman’s life. Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is consumed with the last-minute intricacies of party planning when we first meet her, but she has much bigger aspirations than becoming the ideal society hostess. She is overcome with memories of bygone eras as she prepares her home. And when faced with the present reality, Clarissa reevaluates the decisions that got her there and hesitantly considers the work of growing older.

    • A Room of One’s Own: Virginia Woolf wrote an extensive essay titled ‘A Room of One’s Own’. The essay was based on a series of lectures she gave at Newnham College and Girton College, two women’s colleges at Cambridge University, in October 1928. It was first published on October 24th, 1929. Although this extensive essay explores women as authors and characters in fiction using a fictional narrator and narrative, the essay and the text for the Women and Fiction lecture series are both deemed nonfiction. The article is regarded as a feminist text and is commended for its defense of both a literal and figurative place for female writers within a patriarchal literary tradition.

    • Orlando: In her humorous novel ‘Orlando’, Virginia Woolf creates the character of ‘Orlando’ as a fictitious representation of her close friend and lover Vita Sackville-West. The story spans three centuries and begins as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabethan England, waits for the Queen to arrive. It then follows Orlando as he experiences his first love as James I’s England is engulfed in the Great Frost. The novel indulges in humor and sarcasm to analyze the position of women in the 18th and 19th centuries when Orlando, now an ambassador in Constantinople, awakens to find that he is now a woman.

    • The Waves: ‘The Waves’ introduces six characters—three men and three women—who are struggling with the loss of a cherished friend, Percival, in a setting on the English coast against the colorful backdrop of the sea. Virginia Woolf created her characters from the inside out, showing them through their inner dialogue and ideas rather than by detailing their outward displays of sadness. The chorus of narrating voices merges in awe-inspiring harmony as their comprehension of nature’s difficulties deepens, remarking not just on each person’s impending death but also on how everyone is eternally connected.

Early Life

She was born Virginia Stephen and had ideal Victorian parents. Leslie Stephen, her father, was the first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography (1882–91) and a prominent literary personality. Julia Margaret Cameron, her aunt and one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 19th century, was among Julia Jackson’s prominent social and artistic connections. Julia Jackson’s mother, Julia Jackson, was extremely attractive and had a reputation for saintly self-sacrifice.

From a young age, she received home education in Victorian and English literature. She studied history and classics at King’s College London’s Ladies’ Department from 1897 to 1901, where she also met pioneers in the struggle for women’s rights and early reformers of women’s higher education.

Literary Career

In 1900, Woolf started writing professionally with the support of her father. The Stephen family relocated from Kensington to the more free-spirited Bloomsbury after her father passed away in 1904, where they joined forces with the brothers’ intellectual friends to create the literary and artistic Bloomsbury Group.

Woolf played a significant role in London’s literary and creative community throughout the interwar years. She had her first book, The Voyage Out, published in 1915 by Gerald Duckworth & Company, owned by her half-brother. The novels ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ (1925), ‘To the Lighthouse’ (1927), and ‘Orlando’ (1928) are among her best-known works. Additionally, she is well recognized for her articles, such as ‘A Room of One’s Own’ (1929).

Literature by Virginia Woolf

Explore literature by Virginia Woolf below, created by the team at Book Analysis.