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Virginia Woolf

Bio: One of the most talented and original novelists in English literature, Virginia Woolf was born Virginia Stephen on January 25, 1882 to a prominent English family. Her father was the eminent critic Leslie Stephen, and though Woolf received little in the way of formal education, she read avidly from her father's extensive book collection. Despite the material comforts enjoyed by her family, Woolf's childhood was a traumatic one. She suffered through a period of sexual abuse and endured the early deaths of both her mother and brother. For the rest of her life she would be afflicted by mental illness and periods of extreme depression. Woolf moved with her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, to London in 1904 where she met regularly with many of England's finest young artists and intellectuals. "The Bloomsbury Group," as they would come to be known, included Woolf, fellow novelist E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry, Benjamin Britten and the economist John Maynard Keynes, among others. This vibrant intellectual community proved important to Woolf's maturation as a thinker and an artist as she embarked upon what would be one of the most remarkable writing careers in English history. It also was important to her personally, as she married fellow Bloomsburian Leonard Woolf in 1912.
Virginia Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915 to enthusiastic critical reviews. In 1917 she and Leonard founded the Hogarth Press, a house that would publish many striking and original novels including her own later masterpieces. Woolf followed up The Voyage Out with Night and Day (1919) and Jacob's Room (1922). However, it was with the publication of her next few novels, Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928), and The Waves (1931) that Woolf established herself as one of the most important and innovative novelists in the English-speaking world. Woolf was strongly influenced by the experimental, groundbreaking work of fellow novelist James Joyce, and both artists pushed the novel in new directions towards a fuller representation of inner experience. Woolf's later works of fiction included The Years (1937) and Between the Acts (1941).
Woolf was also a prolific essayist, and during the course of her career she published over 500 essays in various periodicals. Her most well-known work of nonfiction is 1929's A Room of One's Own, which discusses the role of women writers in the history of English letters and has since become a classic of literary criticism and feminist theory.
Woolf suffered through bouts of depression throughout her life, including a number of acute breakdowns. Sensing the onset of another breakdown, Woolf drowned herself in 1941.



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1 A Room of One's Own [Secure eReader]
by Virginia Woolf
  A Room of One's Own is a curious essay. Presented originally as two speeches to the Arts Society at Newham in 1928, the work is remarkable for its distinctive tone, for Woolf's witty and deceptively casual style, and for her decision largely eschew abstract arguments in favor of narrative, anecdote and the guidance of a strong, abiding first person narrator. She also, refreshingly, avoids doctrine and bombast, instead infusing her arguments with subtlety, curiosity and open-minded speculation. T... more info>>
Category: Classic Literature
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2 Mrs. Dalloway [Secure eReader]
by Virginia Woolf
  A landmark work of world literature, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway is an account of one day in the life of an upper class British woman, her husband, and her circle of friends. Woolf's narration of Clarissa Dalloway's day begins with her protagonist's preparations for a party she is holding at her house that evening, and it ends as the party gets underway. In between, Clarissa is visited by an old friend, Peter Walsh, and her mind is returned to a time thirty years earlier when she considered m... more info>>
Category: Classic Literature
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3 Orlando [Secure eReader]
by Virginia Woolf
  A novel that is as witty and playful as it is probing and profound, Virginia Woolf's Orlando is the fantastic story of a person who lives through five centuries, first as a man and then as a woman. The novel opens with Orlando living as a young man in Elizabethan England. A favorite of the queen, Orlando is given a vast estate by the aging monarch and instructed to never to grow old. He doesn't, and Woolf's novel follows him through the centuries, across the globe, through all sorts of love affa... more info>>
Category: Classic Literature
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4 The Waves [Secure eReader]
by Virginia Woolf
  Virginia Woolf's most overtly experimental and perhaps most challenging work, The Waves traces the lives of six characters from childhood through old age, presenting them through their own interwoven voices. The voices, always placed in quotations and introduced with the name of the person speaking, fall somewhere between spoken soliloquy and an interior monologue. The tension between these two things, between the spoken and the unspoken, is, in part, what gives the novel so much of its emotiona... more info>>
Category: Classic Literature
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5 The Years [Secure eReader]
by Virginia Woolf
  A stirring, straightforward work written near the end of her luminous career, Virginia Woolf's The Years is a portrait of the Pargiters, a staid London family presided over by Colonel Abel Pargiter. In some ways, "portrait" is not an entirely appropriate word, because Woolf's subject in this novel (and an abiding concern in all of her works) is fluidity and flux: the movement of the seasons and years, the experience of maturing and growing old, and the pain of change, passing, and loss. Although... more info>>
Category: Classic Literature
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6 To the Lighthouse [Secure eReader]
by Virginia Woolf
  One of the most important works of art of the twentieth century, To the Lighthouse is a profound, stirring, and ambitious novel written by an artist at the height of her extraordinary powers. Like all great works of art, To the Lighthouse is rich with meaning and implication. On the simplest level, it is about the Ramsay family, their vacation home on the Hebrides Islands in Scotland, and the guests who come to stay with them there. On a deeper level, the novel is a meditation on time, on how it... more info>>
Category: Classic Literature
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