Virginia Woolf – A Life of Her Own
Author In Focus Bio:
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English writer, and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. Wikipedia Born: January 25, 1882, Kensington, United Kingdom Died: March 28, 1941, River Ouse, Sussex, United Kingdom Spouse: Leonard Woolf (m. 1912–1941) Movies: Orlando, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Golven, Simple Gifts, A Room of One’s Own Siblings: Vanessa Bell, Thoby Stephen, Adrian Stephen
Virginia Woolf’s Work and Life
Virginia Woolf’s career was filled with work that showed a desire to break free from the constraints she felt as a woman.
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.“~ Virginia Woolf
Opportunities for women in the 20’s and 30s were undeniably less than they are today. But coming from a privileged, intellectual background Woolf had far greater means to express herself than many women of her era. In the period between World War 1 and II, she was part of a London literary circle known as the Bloomsbury group, which included writers, painters and other intellectuals. She may have had the privilege of a wealthy family, but from the time of her mother’s death when she was only 13 yrs old, combined with her sisters death 2 years later, Virginia suffered the first of several nervous breakdowns. Depression plagued her throughout her life, exacerbated by the sexual abuse both she and her sister suffered from their two half brothers.
“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” ~Virginia Woolf
From an early age, she grew up surrounded by intellectuals which doubtless gave her the desire and ability to question her role in society and the position of women in general. But her depression and mood swings never left. They ultimately led to her suicide in 1941.
Virginia Woolf and Women’s Fiction
Despite her mental health problems, or perhaps in part because of them, she managed to be productive in her literary work. Woolf strove to rid herself of her demons, and while her writing can be non-linear and freeform making it hard to read, she forged a unique place in women’s fiction. Now, decades later, I can appreciate the example she set for all women, striving to find ‘a room of one’s own’ in a metaphorical, if not a literal sense.
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Author in Focus is a blog series featuring vignettes of some of the greatest writers of the 20th & 21st century.