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Mrs Dalloway

Early fiction

❶Retrieved 20 January

Early life and influences

Brief Overview
From the SparkNotes Blog
by Virginia Woolf

Despite this heady environment-and having the key to her father's library-Virginia was not afforded the opportunity to attend school like her brothers. This wasn't unusual for the time, but it was something Virginia never quite seemed able to forget. Despite becoming perhaps one of the most intelligent writers of the Twentieth Century, Virginia Woolf always thought of herself as ill educated.

After her parents' deaths, Virginia and her siblings moved out of their family home in Kensington and into a rather shabby London neighborhood called Bloomsbury, where they enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of socialists, artists and students.

Thoby, who had made a number of extremely interesting friends while at Cambridge, instituted Thursday night get togethers with his old college buddies and other great London minds: Virginia and Vanessa sat in on these conversations, which ranged from Art to philosophy to politics, and soon became a part of the Bloomsbury Group themselves. As she came into her own, and comfortable in her new environment, Virginia began to write.

She first produced short articles and reviews for various London weeklies. She then embarked on her first novel, The Voyage Out, which would consume nearly five years of her life and go through seven drafts. When that book came out to good reviews, she continued producing novels, each one a more daring experiment in language and structure, it seemed, than the last one. After a botched marriage proposal from Lytton Strachey, and after turning down two other proposals in the meantime, Virginia accepted Leonard Woolf's proposal of marriage, after recovering from a mental breakdown in a country nursing home.

Although she had affairs of the heart with other women like Vita Sackville-West and Violet Dickinson, Virginia remained very much in love with Leonard for her entire life. He was her greatest supporter, half-nursemaid, half-cheerleader. He was also a good novelist in his own right, and a publishing entrepreneur, having founded Hogarth Press with Virginia. George Duckworth also assumed some of their mother's role, taking upon himself the task of bringing them out into society.

A girl had no chance against its fangs. No other desires — say to paint, or to write — could be taken seriously". The death of Stella Duckworth, her pregnant surrogate mother, on 19 July , after a long illness, [82] was a further blow to Virginia's sense of self, and the family dynamics. In the late nineteenth century, education was sharply divided along gender lines, a tradition that Virginia would note and condemn in her writing. Boys were sent to school, and in upper-middle-class families such as the Stephens, this involved private boys schools, often boarding schools , and university.

There was a small classroom off the back of the drawing room, with its many windows, which they found perfect for quiet writing and painting.

Julia taught the children Latin, French and History, while Leslie taught them mathematics. They also received piano lessons. Even today there may be parents who would doubt the wisdom of allowing a girl of fifteen the free run of a large and quite unexpurgated library. But my father allowed it. There were certain facts - very briefly, very shyly he referred to them. Yet 'Read what you like', he said, and all his books. After Public School , the boys in the family all attended Cambridge University.

The girls derived some indirect benefit from this, as the boys introduced them to their friends. Leslie Stephen described his circle as "most of the literary people of mark Later, between the ages of 15 and 19 she 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 and One of her Greek tutors was Clara Pater — , who taught at King's. Her experiences there led to her essay On Not Knowing Greek.

Although the Stephen girls could not attend Cambridge, they were to be profoundly influenced by their brothers' experiences there. Although Virginia expressed the opinion that her father was her favourite parent, and although she had only just turned thirteen when her mother died, she was profoundly influenced by her mother throughout her life.

It was Virginia who famously stated that "for we think back through our mothers if we are women", [] and invoked the image of her mother repeatedly throughout her life in her diaries, [] her letters [] and a number of her autobiographical essays, including Reminiscences , [35] 22 Hyde Park Gate [36] and A Sketch of the Past , [37] frequently evoking her memories with the words "I see her In To The Lighthouse [40] the artist, Lily Briscoe, attempts to paint Mrs Ramsay, a complex character based on Julia Stephen, and repeatedly comments on the fact that she was "astonishingly beautiful".

While her father painted Julia Stephen's work in terms of reverence, Woolf drew a sharp distinction between her mother's work and "the mischievous philanthropy which other women practise so complacently and often with such disastrous results". She describes her degree of sympathy, engagement, judgement and decisiveness, and her sense of both irony and the absurd. She recalls trying to recapture "the clear round voice, or the sight of the beautiful figure, so upright and distinct, in its long shabby cloak, with the head held at a certain angle, so that the eye looked straight out at you".

Her frequent absences and the demands of her husband instilled a sense of insecurity in her children that had a lasting effect on her daughters. In To the Lighthouse she describes it as "boasting of her capacity to surround and protect, there was scarcely a shell of herself left for her to know herself by; all was so lavished and spent".

Given Julia's frequent absences and commitments, the young Stephen children became increasingly dependent on Stella Duckworth, who emulated her mother's selflessness, as Woolf wrote "Stella was always the beautiful attendant handmaid Julia Stephen greatly admired her husband's intellect, and although she knew her own mind, thought little of her own.

As Woolf observed "she never belittled her own works, thinking them, if properly discharged, of equal, though other, importance with her husband's". She believed with certainty in her role as the centre of her activities, and the person who held everything together, [10] with a firm sense of what was important and valuing devotion.

Of the two parents, Julia's "nervous energy dominated the family". Other issues the children had to deal with was Leslie Stephen's temper, Woolf describing him as "the tyrant father". He 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".

Yet, like Vanessa, she also saw him as victimiser and tyrant. Her adolescent image was of an "Eminent Victorian" and tyrant but as she grew older she began to realise how much of him was in her "I have been dipping into old letters and father's memoirs She was in turn both fascinated and condemnatory of Leslie Stephen " She [her mother] has haunted me: I was more like him than her, I think; and therefore more critical: Much has been made of Virginia's statements that she was continually sexually abused during the whole time that she lived at 22 Hyde Park Gate, as a possible cause of her mental health issues, [] [] though there are likely to be a number of contributing factors see Mental health.

She states that she first remembers being molested by Gerald Duckworth when she was six. It has been suggested that this led to a lifetime of sexual fear and resistance to masculine authority. These include evidence of sexual abuse of the Stephen girls by their older Duckworth stepbrothers, and by their cousin, James Kenneth Stephen — , at least of Stella Duckworth. On their father's death, the Stephens first instinct was to escape from the dark house of yet more mourning, and this they did immediately, accompanied by George, travelling to Manorbier , on the coast of Pembrokeshire on 27 February.

There they spent a month, and it was there that Virginia first came to realise her destiny was as a writer, as she recalls in her diary of 3 September Before their father died, the Stephens had discussed the need to leave South Kensington in the West End , with its tragic memories and their parents' relations.

The Stephen children were now between 24 and Bohemian Bloomsbury, with its characteristic leafy squares seemed sufficiently far away, geographically and socially, and was a much cheaper neighbourhood to rent in see Map. They had not inherited much and they were unsure about their finances. While Gerald was quite happy to move on and find himself a bachelor establishment, George who had always assumed the role of quasi-parent decided to accompany them, much to their dismay. 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 In 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.

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 till The following year, , 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. Virginia moved into 29 Fitzroy Square in April , 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 a libertarian society with sexual freedom for all. Meanwhile, Virginia began work on her first novel, Melymbrosia that eventually became The Voyage Out It was while she was at Fitzroy Square that the question arose of Virginia needing a quiet country retreat, and she required a six-week rest cure and sought the countryside away from London as much as possible.

In December, she and Adrian stayed at Lewes and started exploring the area of Sussex around the town. She started to want a place of her own, like St Ives, but closer to London. She soon found a property in nearby Firle see below , maintaining a relationship with that area for the rest of her life. Several members of the group attained notoriety in with the Dreadnought hoax , which Virginia participated in disguised as a male Abyssinian royal.

Her complete talk on the hoax was discovered and is published in the memoirs collected in the expanded edition of The Platform of Time In October 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 [y] in November.

Virginia saw it as a new opportunity, "we are going to try all kinds of experiments", she told Ottoline Morrell. The house was adjacent to the Foundling Hospital , much to Virginia's amusement as an unchaperoned single woman. 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". Woolf did not meet Virginia formally till November 17, 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. He did so, but received no answer. In June 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 July 3, 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.

After that weekend they began seeing each other more frequently. Indeed, in , Woolf wrote in her diary: And our marriage so complete. Despite the introduction of conscription in , Leonard was exempted on medical grounds.

Between and 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. Her two Cambridge lectures then became the basis for her major essay A Room of One's Own [] in The Woolf's final residence in London was at 37 Mecklenburgh Square — , destroyed during the Blitz in September , a month later their previous home on Tavistock Square was also destroyed.

After that they made Sussex their permanent home. A Biography of Place pub. Virginia had taken up book-binding as a pastime in October , at the age of 19, [] [] and the Woolfs had been discussing setting up a publishing house for some time, and at the end of 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 , and soon they had a printing press set up on their dining room table at Hogarth House, and the Hogarth Press was born.

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" July 13, The process took two and a half months with a production run of copies. The press subsequently published Virginia's novels along with works by T.

Eliot , Laurens van der Post , and others. Woolf believed that to break free of a patriarchal society that 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 , Woolf often helped her husband print the Hogarth books as the money for employees was not there.

After it was bombed in September , the press was moved to Letchworth for the remainder of the war. 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 memoirs presented, Virginia contributed three that were published posthumously in , in the autobiographical anthology Moments of Being. The ethos of the Bloomsbury group encouraged a liberal approach to sexuality, and on December 14, [] she 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". Brown [] and A Letter to a Young Poet Sackville-West worked tirelessly to lift up 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 sense of wit, her health, her intelligence and achievements as a writer.

This led Woolf to spend much time obsessively engaging in such physical labour. Seducers in Ecuador , the first of the novels by Sackville-West published by Hogarth, was not a success, selling only copies in its first year, but the next Sackville-West novel they published, The Edwardians , was a bestseller that sold 30, copies in its first six months.

In , 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. Virginia Woolf also remained close to her surviving siblings, Adrian and Vanessa; Thoby had died of typhoid fever at the age of Virginia was needing a country retreat to escape to, and on 24 December 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.

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 It was a most melodious time. Everything went so freely; - but I can't analyse all the sources of my joy".

While at Asham Leonard and Virginia found a farmhouse in , 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.

After the end of the war, in , the Woolf's were given a year's notice by the landlord, who needed the house. Leonard Woolf describes this view and the amenities [] as being unchanged since the days of Chaucer. Meanwhile, Vanessa had also made Charleston her permanent home in 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. They also shared a psychiatrist in the name of Maurice Craig. 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 , not the outcome Virginia had predicted or desired. They would later be referenced 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. 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 , and became increasingly critical of her. Much examination has been made of Woolf's mental health e.

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 ". She then stopped keeping a diary for some time. This was a scenario she would later recreate in Time Passes To the Lighthouse The death of her father in provoked her most alarming collapse, on May 10, when she threw herself out of a window and she was briefly institutionalised [53] 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 characterised this as a "romantic friendship" Letter to Violet May 4, From then on her life was punctuated by urgent voices from the grave that at times seemed more real than her visual reality.

On Dr Savage's recommendation Virginia spent three short periods in , and 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. 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 July 28 [] she described how she found the phony religious atmosphere stifling, the institution ugly and informed Vanessa that to escape "I shall soon have to jump out of a window".

On emerging from Burley House in September , 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 grains of veronal a barbiturate , nearly dying, [] had she not been found by Ka Cox who summoned help.

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 , Maurice Craig , who explained that she was not sufficiently psychotic to be certified or committed to an institution. The rest of the summer of went better for her and they moved to Richmond, but in February , 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.

Over the rest of her life she suffered recurrent bouts of depression. In 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 posthumously [] in November, and completing a novel was frequently accompanied by exhaustion. Though this instability would frequently affect her social life, she was able to continue her literary productivity with few interruptions throughout her life.

Woolf herself provides not only a vivid picture of her symptoms in her diaries and letters, but also her response to the demons that haunted her and at times made her long for death [] "But it is always a question whether I wish to avoid these glooms These 9 weeks give one a plunge into deep waters Directly I stop working I feel that I am sinking down, down.

And as usual, I feel that if I sink further I shall reach the truth". Leonard 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.

The solution was simple, as long as she lived a quiet life without any physical or mental exertion, she was well. On the other hand, any mental, emotional or physical strain resulted in a reappearance of her symptoms.

These began with a headache, followed by insomnia and thoughts that started to race. Her remedy was simple, to retire to bed in a darkened room, eat, and drink plenty of milk, following which the symptoms slowly subsided. 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 , there was no counterbalance to control George's predation, and his night time 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".

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.

Many of Virginia's symptoms, including persistent headache , insomnia , irritability , and anxiety resemble those of her father. These inspirations emerged from what Woolf referred to as her lava of madness, describing her time at Burley [4] [] [] in a letter to Ethel Smythe:. As an experience, madness is terrific I can assure you, and not to be sniffed at; and in its lava I still find most of the things I write about.

It shoots out of one everything shaped, final, not in mere driblets, as sanity does. And the six months—not three—that I lay in bed taught me a good deal about what is called oneself. Thomas Caramagno [] and others, [] in discussing her illness, warn against the "neurotic-genius" way of looking at mental illness, which rationalises the theory that creativity is somehow born of mental illness. After completing the manuscript of her last novel posthumously published , Between the Acts , [] Woolf fell into a depression similar to that which she had earlier experienced.

The onset of World War II , the destruction of her London home during the Blitz , and the cool reception given to her biography [] of her late friend Roger Fry all worsened her condition until she was unable to work. She held fast to her pacifism and criticized her husband for wearing what she considered to be the silly uniform of the Home Guard.

After World War II began, Woolf's diary indicates that she was obsessed with death, which figured more and more as her mood darkened. In her suicide note , addressed to her husband, she wrote:.

I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight it any longer.

I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.

Woolf is one of the greatest twentieth century novelists and short story writers and one of the pioneers, among modernist writers [] [] using stream of consciousness as a narrative device , alongside contemporaries such as Marcel Proust , [] [] Dorothy Richardson and James Joyce.

The growth of feminist criticism in the s helped re-establish her reputation. Virginia submitted her first article in , to a competition in Tit-Bits. Although it was rejected, this shipboard romance by the eight-year old, would presage her first novel twenty-five years later, as were 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.

Virginia was invited to submit a 1, page article, and she sent Lyttelton two contributions in November, a review of W. Woolf would go on to publish novels and essays as a public intellectual to both critical and popular acclaim. Much of her work was self-published through the Hogarth Press. Her novels are highly experimental: Intense lyricism and stylistic virtuosity fuse to create a world overabundant with auditory and visual impressions". Her first novel, The Voyage Out , [] was published in 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.

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. The plot centres on the Ramsay family's anticipation of and reflection upon a visit to a lighthouse and the connected familial tensions.

One of the primary themes of the novel is the struggle in the creative process that beset painter Lily Briscoe while she struggles to paint in the midst of the family drama. The novel is also a meditation upon the lives of a nation's inhabitants in the midst of war, and of the people left behind. A Biography [] is one of Virginia Woolf's lightest novels.

A parodic biography of a young nobleman who lives for three centuries without ageing much past thirty but who does abruptly turn into a woman , the book is in part a portrait of Woolf's lover Vita Sackville-West. It was meant to console Vita for the loss of her ancestral home, Knole House , though it is also a satirical treatment of Vita and her work.

In Orlando , the techniques of historical biographers are being ridiculed; the character of a pompous biographer is being assumed in order for it to be mocked. A Biography [] 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. In the play, Flush is on stage for much of the action. The play was produced for the first time in by the actress Katharine Cornell. Moore , among others towards doctrinaire rationalism, it is not a simple recapitulation of the coterie's ideals. 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.

Dalloway , [] 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 her essay Am I a Snob? She concluded she was, and subsequent critics and supporters have tried to deal with the dilemma of being both elite and a social critic. Despite the considerable conceptual difficulties, given Woolf's idiosyncratic use of language, [] her works have been translated into over 50 languages.

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 edition of Cameron's photographs. Finally it was performed on January 18, at the studio of her sister, Vanessa Bell on Fitzroy Street in Freshwater is a short three act comedy satirizing the Victorian era , that was only performed once in Woolf's lifetime.

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. Over her relatively short life, Virginia 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 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 Many of these were originally lectures that she gave, [] and several more volumes of essays followed, such as The Captain's death bed: Amongst Woolf's non fiction works, one of the best known is A Room of One's Own , [] a book-length essay.

Considered a key work of feminist literary criticism, it was written following two lectures she delivered on "Women and Fiction" at Cambridge University the previous year.

In it, she examines the historical disempowerment women have faced in many spheres, including social, educational and financial. One of her most famous dicta is contained within the book "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction".

Much of her argument "to show you how I arrived at this opinion about the room and the money" is developed through the "unsolved problems" of women and fiction writing to arrive at her conclusion, although she claimed that was only "an opinion upon one minor point". She contrasted these women who accepted a deferential status, to Jane Austen who wrote entirely as a woman.

A major influence on Woolf from onward was Russian literature as Woolf adopted many of its aesthetic conventions.

Another influence on Woolf was the American writer Henry David Thoreau , with Woolf writing in a 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". In her lifetime, Woolf was outspoken on many topics that were considered controversial, some of which are now considered progressive, others regressive. On the other hand, she has been criticised for views on class and race in her private writings and published works. Like many of her contemporaries, some of her writing is now considered offensive.

As a result, she is considered polarising, a revolutionary feminist and socialist hero or a purveyor of hate speech. Works such as A Room of One's Own [] and Three Guineas [] are frequently taught as icons of feminist literature in courses that would be very critical of some of her views expressed elsewhere.

However it is important to note that she had close homosexual male friends, therefore such allegations are misguided. Virginia Woolf was born into an agnostic family, and in a letter to Ethel Smyth , Woolf gives a scathing denunciation of Christianity , seeing it as self-righteous "egotism" and stating "my Jew has more religion in one toenail—more human love, in one hair.

Hermione Lee cites a number of extracts from Woolf's writings that many, including herself, would consider offensive, and these criticisms can be traced back as far as those of Wyndham Lewis and Q. Leavis in the s and s. Some authors, particularly postcolonial feminists dismiss her and modernist authors in general as privileged, elitist , classist , racist , and antisemitic.

But while she came from a privileged background, she is more complex than that. Woolf seemed aware of these problems, when she wrote in "Consider how difficult it is to tell the truth about oneself — the unpleasant truth; to admit that one is petty, vain, mean, frustrated, tortured, unfaithful, and unsuccessful If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people". Woolf's tendentious expressions, including prejudicial feelings against disabled people have often been the topic of academic criticism: The first quotation is from a diary entry of September and runs "[t]he fact is the lower classes are detestable.

Nor did Woolf shy from using racist epithets. In her posthumously-published novel Between the Acts , she wrote "Down amongst the bushes she worked like a nigger. Though accused of anti-semitism , [] the treatment of Judaism and Jews by Woolf is complex and far from straightforward.

For instance, she described some of the Jewish characters in her work in terms that suggested they were physically repulsive or dirty. On the other hand, she could criticise her own views: Leonard, "a penniless Jew from Putney", lacked the material status of the Stephens and their circle.

While travelling on a cruise to Portugal she protests at finding "a great many Portuguese Jews on board, and other repulsive objects, but we keep clear of them".

Yet Woolf and her husband Leonard came to despise and fear the s fascism and antisemitism. Her 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. Though at least one biography of Virginia Woolf appeared in her lifetime, the first authoritative study of her life was published in by her nephew Quentin Bell.

Hermione Lee 's biography Virginia Woolf [] provides a thorough and authoritative examination of Woolf's life and work, which she discussed in interview in Julia Briggs's Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life 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.

Where were her paints, she wondered? She had left them in the hall last night. She would start at once. She got up quickly, before Mr Ramsay turned. If you are just wandering into this passage, your reaction might be to run for the hills. Here, Lily's thoughts bounce around from the lighthouse to Mr. Ramsay to escape, then back ten years, to a picture, to wondering where her paints got to.

That's a lot to take in, but it is, we think, an impressive rendering of how our minds work. To read that in a novel, though, can seem like stumbling into a dream where we have no clear point of reference. When she wrote this book, Woolf was being boldly experimental with this choice of style, and it's something to savor.

Who wants to eat meat and potatoes at every meal anyway? What's Up with the Ending? Check out this example:

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1. Writing Style of Virginia Woolf 2. As one of the most prominent literary figures of the 20thC,she is widely admired for her technical innovations in the novel, most notably her development of narrative subjectivity. —— 《 Virginia Woolf : Her writing of silence in To The Lighthouse 》 .

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(That would be like this: "he asked himself why on earth Shmoop was still talking about writing style.") Finally, and most notably, Woolf gives us free indirect speech (a.k.a. free indirect discourse).

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Style. In fact, many argue that the actual story of the novel itself takes get put on the backburner in favor the form with which it's told. That's one of the hallmarks of Modernist literature: the typical meat-and-potatoes of plot and character sit in the back seat, while previously overlooked aspects like style and structure get to sit up front and drive (if you can even picture that). Mar 30,  · Virginia Woolf is an influential author because of her unique style, incorporations of symbolism and use of similes and metaphors in her literature, specifically in Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and The Resolved.

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Watch video · Virginia Woolf’s dance between literary expression and personal desolation would continue for the rest of her life. In , she began writing professionally as a contributor for The Times Literary Jan 25, Virginia Woolf on Writing and Self-Doubt Consolation for those moments when you can’t tell whether you’re “the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world.” By Maria Popova.