- NAME: Virginia Woolf
- OCCUPATION: Journalist, Author
- BIRTH DATE: January 25, 1882
- DEATH DATE: March 28, 1941
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Kensington, London, England, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: Near Lewes, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
- Originally: Adeline Virginia Stephen
- AKA: Virginia Woolf
- Full Name: Adeline Virginia Woolf
Best Known For
English Writer Virginia Woolf became famous for her nonlinear prose style, especially noted in her novels Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse.
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Virginia Woolf’s dance between literary expression and personal desolation would continue for the rest of her life.
When Virginia was in her early 20s, her sister Vanessa and brother Adrian sold the family home in Hyde Park Gate, and purchased a house in the Bloomsbury area of London. Through her siblings’ connections, Virginia became acquainted with several members of the Bloomsbury Group, a circle of intellectuals and artists who became famous in 1910 for their Dreadnought hoax,
a practical joke in which members of the group dressed up as a delegation of Ethiopian royals and successfully persuaded the English Royal Navy to show them their warship, the HMS Dreadnought. Woolf disguised herself as a bearded man. After the outrageous act, Leonard Woolf, a writer and a member of the group, took a fancy to Virginia. By 1912, she and Leonard were married. The two shared a passionate love for one another for the rest of their lives.
Several years before marrying Leonard, Virginia had begun working on her first novel. The original title was Melymbrosia. After nine years and innumerable drafts, it was released in 1915 as The Voyage Out. Woolf used the book to experiment with several literary tools, including compelling and unusual narrative perspectives, dream-states and free association prose. In 1925, Mrs. Dalloway, her fourth novel, was released to rave reviews. The mesmerizing story interweaves interior monologues and raises issues of feminism, mental illness and homosexuality in post-World War I England. Since it first went press, Mrs. Dalloway has been turned into a movie (1997) and been the subject of a Michael Cunningham novel and film, The Hours (2002).
Throughout her career, Woolf spoke regularly at colleges and universities, penned dramatic letters, wrote moving essays and self-published a long list of short stories. By her mid-forties, she had established herself as both an intellectual and an innovative thinker and writer. Her ability to balance dream-like scenes with deeply tense plot lines earned her incredible respect from peers and the public alike. Despite her outward success, she continued to regularly suffer from bouts of depression and dramatic mood swings.
Woolf's husband, Leonard, always at her side, was quite aware of any signs that pointed to his wife’s internal demise. He saw, as she was working on what would be her final manuscript (published posthumously), Between the Acts, she was sinking into a bottomless pit. Leonard, who was Jewish, was certainly in danger of being captured by the Nazis, and the couple’s London home had been destroyed during the Blitz. These seemingly insurmountable facts motivated Woolf's decision to, on March 28, 1941, pull on her overcoat, walk out into the River Ouse and fill her pockets with stones. As she waded into the water, the stream took her with it. The authorities found her some three weeks later. Although her popularity decreased after World War II, her stories rang true again for readers during the feminist movement of the 1970s. Woolf remains one of the most well known authors of the 21st century.
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