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Biography of Virginia Woolf

Adeline Virginia Stephen was born in London on January 25, 1882. She was the third child, after Vanessa and Thoby, of Leslie Stephen and Julia Duckworth Stephen. The following year, Adrian Leslie Stephen was born who was the last of Virginia’s siblings.

In 1895, Virginia’s mother died. Soon after her death, Virginia experienced her first significant breakdown. Two years later, after she began to study Greek at King’s College, her stepsister, Stella Duck worth, died. In 1904, her father was knighted. Two years later he also died, and Virginia experienced her second significant breakdown. Later that year she moved to 46 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, and published her first piece, a review in The Guardian

In 1906, her brother Thoby Stephen died of typhoid. The following year, Virginia and Adrian moved to 29 Fitzroy Square where she began her first novel. In 1911, Virginia and her brother shared house with John Maynard Keynes, Duncan Grant, and Leonard Woolf. On August 10 of the following year, she married Leonard Woolf.

In 1913, Virginia completed her first novel, The Voyage Out, but publication had to be delayed because of another breakdown and a suicide attempt. Her novel was finally published in 1915. By 1917, Virginia was contributing regularly to the Times Literary Supplement, while working on her second novel, Night and Day. In 1918, she met T. S. Eliot for the first time. Later that year she published Kew Gardens. The following year she printed some of Eliot’s poems in her printing press in Hogarth House.

In 1920, Virginia began working on Jacob’s Room. The following year, Monday or Tuesday was published. In 1922, stricken by ill health, she met Mrs. Harold Nicholson (Vita Sackville-West), who was the inspiration for her novel Orlando. Jacob’s Room was published that same year. In 1923, her friend and artistic peer Katherine Mansfield died. That same year her husband Leonard became literary editor of The Nation and Virginia began work on Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia and her husband moved to Bloomsbury in 1924. It was where she completed her work on Mrs.Dalloway, which was published the following year.

In 1926, Virginia began working on To the Lighthouse. This novel was published in 1927. During this year, she started visiting Vita Sackville West on a regular basis and began her work on the novel Orlando. In 1928, Orlando was published and she was awarded the Femina Vie Heureuse prize. The following year, A Room of One’s Own, her Cambridge lectures, were published. During this year she started work on The Waves, which was published in 1931.

In 1932, A Letter to a Young Poet and The Common Reader: Second Series were published. In 1933, Virginia refused an honorary doctorate and declined the Leslie Stephen lectureship at Cambridge. That same year, Flush: A Biography was published and she began working on The Years.

In 1936, she began work on Three Guineas and compiled material for her biography of Roger Fry. The following year, The Years was published and Julian Bell was killed in the Spanish Civil War. Three Guineas was published in 1938. The following year she met Sigmund Freud for the first time.

In 1940, she read a paper in Brighton to the Workers Educational Association that was later published as ‘The Leaning Tower’. That same year, Roger Fry: A Biography was published. In 1941, after completing her final novel Between the Acts, Virginia drowned herself in a river near Monk's House where she had lived in 1919.


Virginia Woolf, 2002

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