Virginia Woolf Biography & Facts
Adeline Virginia Woolf (; née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.
Woolf was born into an affluent household in South Kensington, London, the seventh child of mother Julia Prinsep Jackson and father Leslie Stephen in a blended family of eight which included the modernist painter Vanessa Bell, and was home-schooled in English classics and Victorian literature from a young age. From 1897 to 1901, she attended the Ladies' Department of King's College London, where she studied classics and history and came into contact with early reformers of women's higher education and the women's rights movement.
Encouraged by her father, Woolf began writing professionally in 1900. Following her father's death in 1904, the Stephen family moved from Kensington to the more bohemian Bloomsbury, where, in conjunction with the brothers' intellectual friends, they formed the artistic and literary Bloomsbury Group. In 1912, she married Leonard Woolf, and in 1917, the couple founded the Hogarth Press, which published much of her work. They rented a home in Sussex and moved there permanently in 1940. Woolf also had romantic relationships with women, including Vita Sackville-West, who also published her books through Hogarth Press. Both women's literature became inspired by their relationship, which lasted until Woolf's death.During the interwar period, Woolf was an important part of London's literary and artistic society. In 1915, she published her first novel, The Voyage Out, through her half-brother's publishing house, Gerald Duckworth and Company. Her best-known works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928). She is also known for her essays, including A Room of One's Own (1929). Woolf became one of the central subjects of the 1970s movement of feminist criticism and her works have since garnered much attention and widespread commentary for "inspiring feminism". Her works have been translated into more than 50 languages. A large body of literature is dedicated to her life and work, and she has been the subject of plays, novels and films. Woolf is commemorated today by statues, societies dedicated to her work and a building at the University of London.
Throughout her life, Woolf was troubled by her mental illness. She was institutionalised several times and attempted suicide at least twice. Her illness may have been bipolar disorder, for which there was no effective intervention during her lifetime. In 1941, at age 59, Woolf died by drowning herself in the River Ouse at Lewes.
Family of origin
Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen on 25 January 1882 at 22 Hyde Park Gate in South Kensington, London, to Julia (née Jackson) (1846–1895) and Leslie Stephen (1832–1904), writer, historian, essayist, biographer and mountaineer. Julia Jackson was born in 1846 in Calcutta, British India to John Jackson and Maria "Mia" Theodosia Pattle, from two Anglo-Indian families. John Jackson FRCS was the third son of George Jackson and Mary Howard of Bengal, a physician who spent 25 years with the Bengal Medical Service and East India Company and a professor at the fledgling Calcutta Medical College. While John Jackson was an almost invisible presence, the Pattle family were famous beauties, and moved in the upper circles of Bengali society. The seven Pattle sisters married into important families. Julia Margaret Cameron was a celebrated photographer, while Virginia married Earl Somers, and their daughter, Julia Jackson's cousin, was Lady Henry Somerset, the temperance leader. Julia moved to England with her mother at the age of two and spent much of her early life with another of her mother's sisters, Sarah Monckton Pattle. Sarah and her husband Henry Thoby Prinsep, conducted an artistic and literary salon at Little Holland House where she came into contact with a number of Pre-Raphaelite painters such as Edward Burne-Jones, for whom she modelled.Julia was the youngest of three sisters, and Adeline Virginia was named after her mother's eldest sister Adeline Maria Jackson (1837–1881) and her mother's aunt Virginia Pattle (see Pattle family tree). Because of the tragedy of her aunt Adeline's death the previous year, the family never used Virginia's first name. The Jacksons were a well educated, literary and artistic proconsular middle-class family. In 1867, Julia Jackson married Herbert Duckworth, a barrister, but within three years was left a widow with three infant children. She was devastated and entered a prolonged period of mourning, abandoning her faith and turning to nursing and philanthropy. Julia and Herbert Duckworth had three children:
George (5 March 1868 – 27 April 1934), a senior civil servant, married Lady Margaret Herbert in 1904
Stella (30 May 1869 – 19 July 1897), died aged 28
Gerald (29 October 1870 – 28 September 1937), founder of Duckworth Publishing, married Cecil Alice Scott-Chad in 1921
Leslie Stephen was born in 1832 in South Kensington to Sir James and Lady Jane Catherine Stephen (née Venn), daughter of John Venn, rector of Clapham. The Venns were the centre of the evangelical Clapham Sect. Sir James Stephen was the under secretary at the Colonial Office, and with another Clapham member, William Wilberforce, was responsible for the passage of the Slavery Abolition Bill in 1833. In 1849 he was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University. As a family of educators, lawyers and writers the Stephens represented the elite intellectual aristocracy. While his family were distinguished and intellectual, they were less colourful and aristocratic than Julia Jackson's. A graduate and fellow of Cambridge University he renounced his faith and position to move to London where he became a notable man of letters. In addition he was a rambler and mountaineer, described as a "gaunt figure with the ragged red brown beard...a formidable man, with an immensely high forehead, steely-blue eyes, and a long pointed nose". In the same year as Julia Jackson's marriage, he wed Harriet Marian (Minny) Thackeray (1840–1875), youngest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, who bore him a daughter, Laura (1870–1945), but died in childbirth in 1875. Laura was developmentally disabled and eventually institutionalised.The widowed Julia Duckworth knew Leslie Stephen through her friendship with Minny's elder sister Anne (Anny) Isabella Ritchie and had developed an interest in his agnostic writings. She 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. Both were preoccupied with mourning and although they developed a close friendship and intense correspondence, agreed it would go no further. Leslie Stephen propo.... Discover the Virginia Woolf popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Virginia Woolf books.