122 Facts About Virginia Woolf


Virginia Woolf is considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.


Virginia Woolf was home-schooled in English classics and Victorian literature from a young age.


Virginia Woolf is known for her essays, such as A Room of One's Own.


Virginia Woolf became one of the central subjects of the 1970s movement of feminist criticism.


Virginia Woolf's works, translated into more than 50 languages, have attracted attention and widespread commentary for inspiring feminism.


Virginia Woolf has been the subject of plays, novels and films.


Virginia Woolf is commemorated today by statues, societies dedicated to her work and a building at the University of London.

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Virginia Woolf was institutionalised several times and attempted suicide at least twice.


In 1941, at the age of 59, Virginia Woolf died by drowning herself in the River Ouse at Lewes.


Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen on 25 January 1882 at 22 Hyde Park Gate in South Kensington, London, to Julia and Sir Leslie Stephen, writer, historian, essayist, biographer, and mountaineer.


Julia Margaret Cameron was a celebrated photographer, while Virginia Woolf married Earl Somers, and their daughter, Julia Jackson's cousin, was Lady Henry Somerset, the temperance leader.


Julia was the youngest of three sisters, and Adeline Virginia Woolf was named after her mother's eldest sister Adeline Maria Jackson and her mother's aunt Virginia Woolf Pattle.


Virginia Woolf was devastated and entered a prolonged period of mourning, abandoning her faith and turning to nursing and philanthropy.


Virginia Woolf was present the night Minny died and later, tended to Leslie Stephen and helped him move next door to her on Hyde Park Gate so Laura could have some companionship with her own children.


Virginia Woolf provides insight into her early life in her autobiographical essays, including Reminiscences, 22 Hyde Park Gate, and A Sketch of the Past.


Virginia Woolf alludes to her childhood in her fictional writing.


In February 1891, with her sister Vanessa, Virginia Woolf began the Hyde Park Gate News, chronicling life and events within the Stephen family, and modelled on the popular magazine Tit-Bits.


Virginia Woolf was born at 22 Hyde Park Gate and lived there until her father's death in 1904.


Virginia Woolf's aunt was a pioneering early photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron, who was a visitor to the Stephen household.


Virginia Woolf christened her older sister "the saint" and was far more inclined to exhibit her cleverness than her more reserved sister.


Virginia Woolf resented the domesticity Victorian tradition forced on them far more than her sister.


Virginia Woolf would revisit this criticism in her depiction of Mrs Ramsay stating the duties of a Victorian mother in To the Lighthouse "an unmarried woman has missed the best of life".


Later, Virginia Woolf 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 Virginia Woolf's writing but the "broken chrysalis" was an image that became a metaphor for those exploring the relationship between Virginia Woolf and grief.


Virginia Woolf was educated by her parents who shared the duty.

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Later, between the ages of 15 and 19, Virginia Woolf was able to pursue higher education.


Virginia Woolf 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.


Virginia Woolf studied Greek under the eminent scholar George Charles Winter Warr, professor of Classical Literature at King's.


Virginia Woolf alludes to her childhood in her fictional writing.


Virginia Woolf's depiction of the life of the Ramsays in the Hebrides is an only thinly disguised account of the Stephens in Cornwall and the Godrevy Lighthouse they would visit there.


Virginia Woolf observed that her half-sister, Stella, the oldest daughter, led a life of total subservience to her mother, incorporating her ideals of love and service.


Virginia Woolf had given her his ring on her eighteenth birthday and she had a deep emotional attachment as his literary heir, writing about her "great devotion for him".


Virginia Woolf had a lasting ambivalence towards him through her life, albeit one that evolved.


Virginia Woolf stated that she first remembers being molested by Gerald Duckworth when she was six years old.


Clive Bell proposed to Vanessa, but was declined, while Virginia Woolf 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.


Virginia Woolf's cherished brother Thoby, who was only 26, died of typhoid, following a trip they had all taken to Greece, and immediately afterward Vanessa accepted Clive's third proposal.


Virginia Woolf moved into 29 Fitzroy Square in April 1907, a house on the west side of the street, formerly occupied by George Bernard Shaw.


Meanwhile, Virginia Woolf began work on her first novel, Melymbrosia, that eventually became The Voyage Out.


Vanessa's first child, Julian was born in February 1908, and in September Virginia Woolf accompanied the Bells to Italy and France.


Virginia Woolf started to want a place of her own, like St Ives, but closer to London.


Virginia Woolf soon found a property in nearby Firle, maintaining a relationship with that area for the rest of her life.


Several members of the group attained notoriety in 1910 with the Dreadnought hoax, which Virginia Woolf participated in disguised as a male Abyssinian royal.


Virginia Woolf saw it as a new opportunity: "We are going to try all kinds of experiments," she told Ottoline Morrell.


Leonard Virginia 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.


Virginia Woolf recalls them in "white dresses and large hats, with parasols in their hands, their beauty literally took one's breath away".

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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.


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 had her writing room, and is commemorated with a bust of her in the square.


Virginia Woolf 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.


Virginia 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.


Until 1930, Virginia Woolf often helped her husband print the Hogarth books as the money for employees was not there.


Virginia Woolf relinquished her interest in 1938, following a third attempted suicide.


The relationship reached its peak between 1925 and 1928, evolving into more of a friendship through the 1930s, though Virginia Woolf was inclined to brag of her affairs with other women within her intimate circle, such as Sibyl Colefax and Comtesse de Polignac.


Sackville-West worked tirelessly to lift Virginia Woolf's self-esteem, encouraging her not to view herself as a quasi-reclusive inclined to sickness who should hide herself away from the world, but rather offered praise for her liveliness and wit, her health, her intelligence and achievements as a writer.


Sackville-West led Virginia Woolf to reappraise herself, developing a more positive self-image, and the feeling that her writings were the products of her strengths rather than her weakness.


Under the influence of Sackville-West, Virginia 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.


However, Virginia 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 Virginia Woolf to engage in more experimental work, such as The Waves, as Virginia Woolf had to be cautious when she depended upon Hogarth entirely for her income.


Virginia Woolf remained close to her surviving siblings, Adrian and Vanessa; Thoby had died of typhoid fever at the age of 26.


Virginia Woolf was needing a country retreat to escape to, and on 24 December 1910, she found a house for rent in Firle, Sussex, near Lewes.


Virginia Woolf described it as "flat, pale, serene, yellow-washed", without electricity or water and allegedly haunted.


Virginia Woolf 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.


Leonard Virginia Woolf describes this view as being unchanged since the days of Chaucer.


From 1940, it became their permanent home after their London home was bombed, and Virginia Woolf continued to live there until her death.


Virginia Woolf became resentful of the other couple, Jacques and Gwen, who married later in 1911, not the outcome Virginia had predicted or desired.


Virginia Woolf was deeply disappointed when Ka married William Edward Arnold-Forster in 1918, and became increasingly critical of her.

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However, as Hermione Lee points out, Virginia Woolf 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", who made the best use, and achieved the best understanding she could of that illness.


Virginia Woolf then stopped keeping a diary for some time.


Virginia Woolf 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 Woolf, became one of her closest friends and one of her more effective nurses.


Virginia Woolf characterised it as a "romantic friendship".


On Dr Savage's recommendation, Virginia Woolf spent three short periods in 1910,1912, and 1913 at Burley House at 15 Cambridge Park, Twickenham, described as "a private nursing home for women with nervous disorder" run by Miss Jean Thomas.


Virginia Woolf 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.


Virginia Woolf's health became increasingly a matter of concern, culminating in her decision to end her life on 28 March 1941.


Virginia Woolf's experiences informed her work, such as the character of Septimus Warren Smith in Mrs Dalloway, who, like Woolf, was haunted by the dead, and ultimately takes his own life rather than be admitted to a sanitorium.


Leonard Virginia Woolf relates how during the 30 years they were married, they consulted many doctors in the Harley Street area, and although they were given a diagnosis of neurasthenia, he felt they had little understanding of the causes or nature.


Virginia Woolf's remedy was simple: to retire to bed in a darkened room, eat, and drink plenty of milk, following which the symptoms slowly subsided.


Many of Virginia Woolf's symptoms, including persistent headache, insomnia, irritability, and anxiety, resembled those of her father's.


Virginia Woolf herself hinted that her illness was related to how she saw the repressed position of women in society when she wrote A Room of One's Own.


Stephen Trombley describes Virginia Woolf as having a confrontational relationship with her doctors, and possibly being a woman who is a "victim of male medicine", referring to the lack of understanding, particularly at the time, about mental illness.


Virginia Woolf held fast to her pacifism and criticised her husband for wearing what she considered to be "the silly uniform of the Home Guard".


On 28 March 1941, Virginia Woolf drowned herself by filling her overcoat pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home.


Virginia Woolf's husband buried her cremated remains beneath an elm tree in the garden of Monk's House, their home in Rodmell, Sussex.


Virginia Woolf is considered to be one of the more important 20th century novelists.


Virginia Woolf's reputation was at its greatest during the 1930s, but declined considerably following World War II.


Virginia Woolf submitted her first article in 1890, to a competition in Tit-Bits.

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Virginia Woolf transitioned from juvenilia to professional journalism in 1904 at the age of 22.


In 1905, Virginia Woolf began writing for The Times Literary Supplement.


Virginia Woolf would go on to publish novels and essays as a public intellectual to both critical and popular acclaim.


DeSalvo argues that many of the changes Virginia Woolf made in the text were in response to changes in her own life.


Virginia Woolf was inspired to write this book from the success of the Rudolf Besier play The Barretts of Wimpole Street.


The novel had its origin in a lecture Virginia 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".


Virginia 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.


Virginia Woolf 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.


Virginia 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.


Virginia Woolf 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.


Virginia Woolf concluded she was, and subsequent critics and supporters have tried to deal with the dilemma of being both elite and a social critic.


Virginia Woolf researched the life of her great-aunt, the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, publishing her findings in an essay titled "Pattledom", and later in her introduction to her 1926 edition of Cameron's photographs.


Virginia Woolf had begun work on a play based on an episode in Cameron's life in 1923, but abandoned it.


Virginia Woolf directed it herself, and the cast were mainly members of the Bloomsbury Group, including herself.


Virginia Woolf wrote a body of autobiographical work and more than 500 essays and reviews, some of which, like A Room of One's Own were of book length.


Shortly after her death, Leonard Virginia Woolf produced an edited edition of unpublished essays titled The Moment and other Essays, published by the Hogarth Press in 1947.


Virginia Woolf contrasted these women who accepted a deferential status with Jane Austen, who wrote entirely as a woman.


In contrast to her objections to Dostoyevsky's "exaggerated emotional pitch", Virginia Woolf found much to admire in the work of Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy.


Virginia Woolf admired Chekhov for his stories of ordinary people living their lives, doing banal things and plots that had no neat endings.


From Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf drew lessons about how a novelist should depict a character's psychological state and the interior tension within.

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Virginia Woolf was an ardent feminist at a time when women's rights were barely recognised, and anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist and a pacifist when chauvinism was popular.


Virginia Woolf has been the recipient of considerable homophobic and misogynist criticism.


Virginia Woolf stated in her private letters that she thought of herself as an atheist.


Virginia Woolf thought there were no Gods; no one was to blame; and so she evolved this atheist's religion of doing good for the sake of goodness.


Virginia Woolf was happily married to an irreligious Jewish man who had no connection with or knowledge of his people while she generally characterized Jewish characters with negative stereotypes.


Virginia Woolf's 1938 book Three Guineas was an indictment of fascism and what Woolf described as a recurring propensity among patriarchal societies to enforce repressive societal mores by violence.


Virginia Woolf had several affairs with women, the most notable being with Vita Sackville-West.


Madge Symonds was described as one of Virginia Woolf's early loves in Sackville-West's diary.


Virginia Woolf fell in love with Violet Dickinson, although there is some confusion as to whether the two consummated their relationship.


Virginia Woolf even went as far as to tell him that she was not attracted to him, but that she did love him and finally agreed to marriage.


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.


Virginia Woolf described her mother as an "invisible presence" in her life, and Ellen Rosenman argues that the mother-daughter relationship is a constant in Virginia Woolf's writing.


Virginia Woolf describes how Woolf's modernism needs to be viewed in relationship to her ambivalence towards her Victorian mother, the centre of the former's female identity, and her voyage to her own sense of autonomy.


Virginia Woolf 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.


Virginia Woolf is known for her contributions to 20th-century literature and her essays, as well as the influence she has had on literary, particularly feminist criticism.


Virginia Woolf's image is ubiquitous, and can be found on products ranging from tea towels to T-shirts.


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.