Virginia Woolf

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Woolf, Virginia (Stephen),

1882–1941, English novelist and essayist; daughter of Sir Leslie StephenStephen, Sir Leslie,
1832–1904, English author and critic. The first serious critic of the novel, he was also editor of the great Dictionary of National Biography from its beginning in 1882 until 1891. In 1859 he was ordained a minister.
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. A successful innovator in the form of the novel, she is considered a significant force in 20th-century fiction. She was educated at home from the resources of her father's huge library. In 1912 she married Leonard Woolf, a critic and writer on economics, with whom she set up the Hogarth Press in 1917. Their home became a gathering place for a circle of artists, critics, and writers known as the Bloomsbury groupBloomsbury group,
name given to the literary group that made the Bloomsbury area of London the center of its activities from 1904 to World War II. It included Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, E. M.
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. As a novelist Woolf's primary concern was to represent the flow of ordinary experience. Her emphasis was not on plot or characterization but on a character's consciousness, his thoughts and feelings, which she brilliantly illuminated by the stream of consciousnessstream of consciousness,
in literature, technique that records the multifarious thoughts and feelings of a character without regard to logical argument or narrative sequence.
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 technique. She did not limit herself to one consciousness, however, but slipped from mind to mind, particularly in The Waves, probably her most experimental novel. Her prose style is poetic, heavily symbolic, and filled with superb visual images.

Woolf's early works, The Voyage Out (1915) and Night and Day (1919), were traditional in method, but she became increasingly innovative in Jacob's Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and The Waves (1931). Other experimental novels are Orlando (1928), The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941). She was a master of the critical essay, and some of her finest pieces are included in The Common Reader (1925), The Second Common Reader (1933), The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (1942), and The Moment and Other Essays (1948). A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938) are feminist tracts. Her biography of Roger FryFry, Roger Eliot,
1866–1934, English art critic and painter. A champion of modern French schools of art, he introduced Cézanne and the postimpressionists to England. From 1905 to 1910 he was curator of paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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 (1940) is a careful study of a friend. Some of her short stories from Monday or Tuesday (1921) appear with others in A Haunted House (1944). Virginia Woolf suffered mental breakdowns in 1895 and 1915; she drowned herself in 1941 because she feared another breakdown from which she might not recover. Most of her posthumously published works were edited by her husband.

Bibliography

See her Writer's Diary, ed. by L. Woolf (1953) and Correspondence with Lytton Strachey, ed. by L. Woolf and J. Strachey (1956); diary, ed. by A. O. Bell (4 vol., 1979–83); letters, ed. by N. Nicolson and J. Trautmann (6 vol., 1977–82); essays, ed. by A. McNeillie and S. N. Clarke (6 vol., 1989–2000); biographies by Q. Bell (2 vol., 1972), P. Rose (1978), L. Gordon (1985), M. Rosenthal (1987), J. King (1995), P. Reid (1996), H. Lee (1997), N. Nicolson (2000), and J. Briggs (2005); studies by E. M. Forster (1942), J. Bennett (2d ed. 1964), R. Freedman (1980), and J. Marcus, ed. (1983). See also the autobiography of her husband, Leonard Sidney Woolf (5 vol., 1960–69).

Woolf, Virginia

 

Born Jan. 25, 1882, in London; died Mar. 28, 1941, in Lewes, Sussex. English modernist writer and critic.

As an experimental novelist, Woolf limited her task to the portrayal of feelings and sensations, which she interpreted as the true reality (Jacob’s Room, 1922; Mrs. Dalloway, 1925; and To the Lighthouse, 1927, for example). Woolf considered emphasis on social reality to be a violation of the laws of art and the realistic method outmoded (the articles “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown,” 1924, and “Contemporary Artistic Literature,” 1925). Formalist features became stronger in her novels of the 1930’s (The Waves, 1931, and The Years, 1937).

WORKS

Collected Essays, vols. 1-4. London, 1966-67.

REFERENCES

Zhantieva, D. G. Angliiskii roman XX veka: 1918-1939. Moscow, 1965.
Mikhal’skaia, N. P. Puti razvitiia angliiskogo romana 1920-1930-x godov. Moscow, 1966.
Ivasheva, V. V. Angliiskaia literatura: XX vek. Moscow, 1967.
Allen, W. Traditsiia i mechta. Moscow, 1970.

N. P. MIKHAL’SKAIA