VIRGINIA WOOLF: BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

Virginia Woolf was one of the great English psychological novelists of the twentieth century. Virginia was born at Hyde Park Gate in London in 1882 in a distinguished literary family. Her father Leslie Stephen was the author of critical, biographical and philosophical essays. Virginia was the younger child of her parents and only one who achieved wide fame. Virginia was born while her father Leslie Stephen was fifty years old. Virginia got a favourable atmosphere of literary pursuit at her house. Her father was a man of literature and established himself as an essayist. He had by then published two books: ‘History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century’ and ‘The Science of Ethics’. After fifty,  he wrote daily and methodically in his study at the top of the house, books scattered around him in a circle. At evening time, he often had a walk with his daughter and a docile dog into Kensington Gardens. He often stimulated her daughter to read what she liked. Later on, the memories of her walking tour made the background of her writings. In their house at Hyde Park Gate, there had always been a haunt of distinguished persons. Amongst them were — James Russell Lowell, Thomas Hardy, Henry James and so on. All of them were literary men. James Russell stood to be the godfather to Virginia.

In 1895 she lost her mother while she was thirteen. The death of her mother affected her deeply. In 1904, she lost her father. Then Virginia with her sister Venessa and her brothers Adrian and Thoby moved to ’46 Gordon Square’. 

During these years they were studying at Cambridge. Virginia for having poor health could not take to conventional schooling. She was educated at home, learning among other things, Greek with a teacher. After this, they rented a house in Bloomsbury Square, a literary district. There later on Virginia and others founded a literary club called “Bloomsbury Group”. In 1906, her brother Thoby died at the age of twenty-five. In 1907, her sister Venessa was married to Clive Bell. Then Adrian (her brother) and Virginia herself moved to nearby Fitzroy Square. Between 1907 and 1912, Clive Bell was to some extent Virginia’s literary confidant. Already from 1905, Virginia had begun to contribute essays and reviews to ‘The Times Literary Supplement’ to 1912. She published forty essays in that magazine and in nine other journals. She continued to closely associate with the Bloomsbury Group, among whose members one was Lytton Strachey who later on became a distinguished biographer. She had been Thoby’s friend at Cambridge.

In 1912, she married Leonard Woolf. Her marriage with him was a blessing upon her as he enriched her interest and encouraged her to go on her writings with devotion. Two years after Virginia’s marriage to Leonard Woolf, the First World War broke out. For Virginia’s soul, the war was a horrible and nerve-shattering experience. She was physically weak and sickly and now she had been suffering from constant fits of depression. However, she continued to work harder.

In 1917, ‘The Hogarth Press’ was founded by Mr and Mrs Woolf as a hobby of printing rather than publishing.  From 1915 to 1924 they were living at Hogarth House, Richmond. They also had a lease of Ascham House in Sussex where they spent weekends and holidays. Mrs Woolf went with her husband to labour party conferences, but in public, she took little part in the discussion. She supported her husband in private.

Already, the din and bustle of the Second World War began in 1939 and again Virginia began to suffer from fits and depression. As soon as the war began she lost her faith in life. One day evening in 1941 she went for a walk putting her hat on the head and taking a walking stick in her hand. But she had been suffering so much inwardly that he lost quite her zest for life and then while her depression reached the climax, she drowned herself, leaving her hat and stick on the bank and committed suicide. 

Besides essays and reviews, she had written all total nine novels. Her first two novels  ‘The Voyage Out’ and ‘Night and Day’ were written in the traditional technique. After writing these two novels, she achieved maturity and wrote other novels. But amongst all of her novels ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘To the Light House’ are her masterpieces. In these two novels, she brought the technique of psychological novel into perfection. Her merit and reputation mainly rest upon these two novels. 0 0 0

 

Resource Book: The World Writers: Brief Biographies by Menonim Menonimus

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