Zenana Book Club

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was an extremely talented English writer, famous for her feminist novels and essays. She was born Adeline Virginia Stephen to a high class British family in London. Her father was Sir Leslie Stephen, the author of the Dictionary of English Biography, and her mother was the daughter of William Thackery. Despite her family's stature, she and her sister, Vanessa Bell, were sexually abused by their stepbrothers from the time they were children until they were well into adulthood.

In 1911, Virginia married Leonard Woolf, a respected left-wing political journalist. Together, they began Hogarth Press, whose publications included works from Freud and T.S. Eliot. Also, they were famous additions to the group of writers and artists known as the Bloomsbury Group. This group also included E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, Clive and Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant. This collection of creative people was together until the 1930's.

Throughout her life, Virginia had several emotional breakdowns and periods of extreme depression. She was treated for these breakdowns, but the treatments did not seem to work. In 1941, she placed a large stone in her pocket and drowned herself in the river. Her body was found 18 days later by children playing on the bank.


Woolf was one of the leaders in the literary movement of modernism. In her works, she used a technique known as stream of consciousness, showing the lives of her characters by revealing their thoughts and associations.

One of her writings, A Room of One's Own, expresses the frustration women writers past and present have felt. In the past, women were not allowed the schooling let alone the recognition of the men of their eras. Woolf creates Shakespeare's sister, a woman who would have the same creativity and ambition as good ol' Will, but would lack the support he was given by the public. She would not have the ability to write his works, for her family would not allow her his schooling. She would run away from home and attempt to find her creative outlet in the real world. In her frustration, she would eventually kill herself.

Woolf's attention and sensitivity towards women allowed her to be one of the most important writers of the 20th century. To this day she remains one of the most famous feminist writers in the world.


Between the Acts
the last novel, published posthumously

Jacob's Room
Virginia Woolf's first significant break with conventional novel form

Mrs Dalloway
a June day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, et. al.

Night and Day
the longest novel, a comic depiction of manners

Orlando: A Biography
a fanciful exploration of gender, art, etc.

To the Lighthouse
widely read, critically appreciated focus on a Victorian family

The Voyage Out
as the title suggests, VW's first novel

The Waves
poetic, experimental interplay of  soliloquies by six characters

The Years
a poetic, family chronicle 


A Room of One's Own
a feminist classic

Three Guineas
a pacifist "sequel" to A Room of One's Own

Essay Collections

The Captain's Death Bed, and Other Essays
includes "Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Brown"  and "Memories of a Working Women's Guild"

The Common Reader
Virginia Woolf's first published collection, includes "Modern Fiction,"  "The Russian Point of View" and "On Not Knowing Greek".

The Common Reader: Second Series
includes "I am Christina Rosetti" and "How Should One Read a Book?"

Contemporary Writers
a collection of VW's reviews for the Times Literary Supplement

The Death of the Moth, and Other Essays
first posthumously published collection, includes "Street Haunting" and "A Letter to a Young Poet".

Comments and Questions about this Web site: zenana@writeme.com

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