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30/06/2017 The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain

Home VirginiaWoolf:
AShortBiography
Messagefrom
theSociety
In1926VirginiaWoolfcontributedanintroductionto
TheVirginia
VictorianPhotographsofFamousMen&FairWomenby
WoolfBulletin
JuliaMargaretCameron.Thispublicationmaybeseenas
aspringboardfromwhichtoapproachWoolfslife:Virginia
Society
sawherselfasdescendingfromadistinctivemaleand
Publications
femaleinheritanceCameronwasthefamousVictorian
photographerandWoolfsgreatauntWoolfsfriendRoger
Resources
Fryalsocontributedanintroductionandleadsustothe
BloomsburyGroupandthebookwaspublishedbythe
Membership HogarthPresswhichVirginiahadstartedwithherhusband
Leonardin1917.
Events
AdelineVirginiaStephenwasbornon25January1882in
UsefulLinks London.Herfather,LeslieStephen(18321904),wasa
manofletters(andfirsteditoroftheDictionaryof
NationalBiography)whocamefromafamilydistinguished
forpublicservice(partoftheintellectualaristocracy'of
VictorianEngland).Hermother,Julia(184695),from
whomVirginiainheritedherlooks,wasthedaughterof
oneandnieceoftheotherfivebeautifulPattlesisters
(JuliaMargaretCameronwastheseventh:notbeautiful
buttheonlyonerememberedtoday).Bothparentshad
beenmarriedbefore:herfathertothedaughterofthe
novelist,Thackeray,bywhomhehadadaughterLaura
(18701945)whowasintellectuallybackwardandher
mothertoabarrister,HerbertDuckworth(183370),by
whomshehadthreechildren,George(18681934),Stella
(186997),andGerald(18701937).JuliaandLeslie
Stephenhadfourchildren:Vanessa(18791961),Thoby
(18801906),Virginia(18821941),andAdrian(1883
1948).Alleightchildrenlivedwiththeparentsanda
numberofservantsat22HydeParkGate,Kensington.

LongsummerholidayswerespentatTallandHouseinSt
Ives,Cornwall,andStIvesplayedalargepartin
Virginiasimagination.ItwasthesettingforhernovelTo
theLighthouse,despiteitsostensiblybeingplacedonthe
IsleofSkye.Londonand/orStIvesprovidedtheprincipal
settingsofmostofhernovels.

In1895hermotherdiedunexpectedly,andVirginia
sufferedherfirstmentalbreakdown.HerhalfsisterStella
tookovertherunningofthehouseholdaswellascoping
withLesliesdemandsforsympathyandemotional
support.StellamarriedJackHillsin1897,butshetoodied
suddenlyonherreturnfromherhoneymoon.The
householdburdenthenfelluponVanessa.

Virginiawasalloweduncensoredaccesstoherfathers
extensivelibrary,andfromanearlyagedeterminedtobe
awriter.Hereducationwassketchyandsheneverwent
toschool.Vanessatrainedtobecomeapainter.Theirtwo
brothersweresenttopreparatoryandpublicschools,and
thentoCambridge.ThereThobymadefriendswith
LeonardWoolf,CliveBell,SaxonSydneyTurner,Lytton
StracheyandMaynardKeynes.Thiswasthenucleusof
theBloomsburyGroup.

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30/06/2017 The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain
LeslieStephendiedin1904,andVirginiahadasecond
breakdown.Whileshewassick,Vanessaarrangedforthe
foursiblingstomovefrom22HydeParkGateto46
GordonSquare,Bloomsbury.Attheendoftheyear
Virginiastartedreviewingwithaclericalpapercalledthe
Guardianin1905shestartedreviewingintheTimes
LiterarySupplementandcontinuedwritingforthatjournal
formanyyears.FollowingatriptoGreecein1906,Thoby
diedoftyphoidandin1907VanessamarriedCliveBell.
ThobyhadstartedThursdayevenings'forhisfriendsto
visit,andthiskindofarrangementwascontinuedafterhis
deathbyVanessaandthenbyVirginiaandAdrianwhen
theymovedto29FitzroySquare.In1911Virginiamoved
to38BrunswickSquare.LeonardWoolfhadjoinedthe
CeylonCivilServicein1904andreturnedin1911on
leave.HesoondecidedthathewantedtomarryVirginia,
andsheeventuallyagreed.TheyweremarriedinSt
PancrasRegistryOfficeon10August1912.Theydecided
toearnmoneybywritingandjournalism.

Sinceabout1908Virginiahadbeenwritingherfirstnovel
TheVoyageOut(originallytobecalledMelymbrosia).It
wasfinishedby1913but,owingtoanotherseveremental
breakdownafterhermarriage,itwasnotpublisheduntil
1915byDuckworth&Co.(Geraldspublishinghouse).The
novelwasfairlyconventionalinform.Shethenbegan
writinghersecondnovelNightandDayifanythingeven
moreconventionalwhichwaspublishedin1919,alsoby
Duckworth.

From1911VirginiahadrentedsmallhousesnearLewesin
Sussex,mostnotablyAshehamHouse.HersisterVanessa
rentedCharlestonFarmhousenearbyfrom1916onwards.
In1919theWoolfsboughtMonksHouseinthevillageof
Rodmell.Thiswasasmallweatherboardedhouse(now
ownedbytheNationalTrust)whichtheyusedprincipally
forsummerholidaysuntiltheywerebombedoutoftheir
flatinMecklenburghSquarein1940whenitbecametheir
home.

In1917theWoolfshadboughtasmallhandprinting
pressinordertotakeupprintingasahobbyandas
therapyforVirginia.BynowtheywerelivinginRichmond
(Surrey)andtheHogarthPresswasnamedaftertheir
house.Virginiawrote,printedandpublishedacoupleof
experimentalshortstories,'TheMarkontheWall'and
'KewGardens'.TheWoolfscontinuedhandprintinguntil
1932,butinthemeantimetheyincreasinglybecame
publishersratherthanprinters.Byabout1922the
HogarthPresshadbecomeabusiness.From1921Virginia
alwayspublishedwiththePress,exceptforafewlimited
editions.

1921sawVirginiasfirstcollectionofshortstoriesMonday
orTuesday,mostofwhichwereexperimentalinnature.In
1922herfirstexperimentalnovel,JacobsRoom,
appeared.In1924theWoolfsmovedbacktoLondon,to
52TavistockSquare.In1925Mrs.Dallowaywas
published,followedbyTotheLighthousein1927,andThe
Wavesin1931.Thesethreenovelsaregenerally
consideredtobehergreatestclaimtofameasa
modernistwriter.Herinvolvementwiththearistocratic
novelistandpoetVitaSackvilleWestledtoOrlando
(1928),aromanclefinspiredbyVitaslifeandancestors
atKnoleinKent.Twotalkstowomenscollegesat
Cambridgein1928ledtoARoomofOnesOwn(1929),a
discussionofwomenswritinganditshistoricaleconomic
andsocialunderpinning.

Notes

http://www.virginiawoolfsociety.co.uk/vw_res.biography.htm 2/3
30/06/2017 The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain

Seealso:VirginiaWoolfsHolidayHomesInTheCountry

ForamoredetaileddiscussionofVirginiaWoolfsbreakdowns,
see
VirginiaWoolf'sPsychiatricHistorybyMalcolmIngram.
(http://www.malcolmingram.com/vwframe.htm)

TextcopyrightS.N.Clarke&VWSGB2000

Photos

SeaviewfromthewindowoftheTallandHouse,StIves
(1999)
FrontviewoftheTallandHouse(1999)
AshehamHouse,Sussex(1977)
WoodengateofMonksHouseentrance,Rodmell,Sussex
(1977)
LookingoutoftheWoolfs'sittingroom,MonksHouse(2001)
ChurchviewfrombalconyoutsideLeonard'sstudy,Monks
House(2001)
GardenviewfrombalconyoutsideLeonard'sstudy,Monks
House(2001)
EntranceofMonk'sHouse(1977)
Virginia'swritinglodge,Monk'sHouse(1977)

PhotoscopyrightS.N.Clarke&H.Fukushima

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