About This Author

Virginia Woolf

Photograph of Virginia Woolf in 1902; photograph by George Charles Beresford
Virginia Stephenin 1902 Photo: George Charles Beresford

Born

Adeline Virginia Stephen25 January 1882 South Kensington, London, United Kingdom

Died

28 March 1941 Lewes, Sussex, United Kingdom

Occupation

Novelist, essayist, publisher, critic

Notable works

  • Mrs Dalloway
  • To the Lighthouse
  • The Waves

Relatives

List
    • George Herbert Duckworth
    • Stella Duckworth
    • Gerald Duckworth
    • Laura Stephen
    • Vanessa Stephen
    • Thoby Stephen
    • Adrian Stephen
    • Katharine Stephen

Signature

Woolf's voice
BBC radio broadcast 29 April 1937

Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and also a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.

Woolf was born into an affluent household in South Kensington, London, the seventh child in a blended family of eight. Her mother, Julia Prinsep Jackson, celebrated as a Pre-Raphaelite artist's model, had three children from her first marriage, while Woolf's father, Leslie Stephen, a notable man of letters, had one previous daughter. The Stephens produced another four children, including the modernist painter Vanessa Bell. While the boys in the family received college educations, the girls were home-schooled in English classics and Victorian literature. An important influence in Virginia Woolf's early life was the summer home the family used in St Ives, Cornwall, where she first saw the Godrevy Lighthouse, which was to become iconic in her novel To the Lighthouse .

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Discover Virginia Woolf Quotes and Sayings

It seems as if an age of genius must be succeeded by an age of endeavour riot and extravagance by cleanliness and hard work. - Virginia Woolf

It seems as if an age of genius must be succeeded by an age of endeavour riot and extravagance by cleanliness and hard work.

Virginia Woolf

age work
It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses. - Virginia Woolf

It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses.

Virginia Woolf

age
For what Harley Street specialist has time to understand the body, let alone the mind or both in combination, when he is a slave to thirteen thousand a year? - Virginia Woolf

For what Harley Street specialist has time to understand the body, let alone the mind or both in combination, when he is a slave to thirteen thousand a year?

Virginia Woolf

alone
Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame. - Virginia Woolf

Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame.

Virginia Woolf

alone
When the shriveled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning, it satisfies the senses amazingly. - Virginia Woolf

When the shriveled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning, it satisfies the senses amazingly.

Virginia Woolf

amazing
Really I don't like human nature unless all candied over with art. - Virginia Woolf

Really I don't like human nature unless all candied over with art.

Virginia Woolf

art nature
The beauty of the world, which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder. - Virginia Woolf

The beauty of the world, which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.

Virginia Woolf

beauty
The beautiful seems right by force of beauty, and the feeble wrong because of weakness. - Virginia Woolf

The beautiful seems right by force of beauty, and the feeble wrong because of weakness.

Virginia Woolf

beauty
Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious the best prose is that which is most full of poetry. - Virginia Woolf

Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious the best prose is that which is most full of poetry.

Virginia Woolf

best poetry
We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods. - Virginia Woolf

We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods.

Virginia Woolf

best war
Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it. It is our business to puncture gas bags and discover the seeds of truth. - Virginia Woolf

Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it. It is our business to puncture gas bags and discover the seeds of truth.

Virginia Woolf

business truth
This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us. If one has the courage to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say. - Virginia Woolf

This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us. If one has the courage to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say.

Virginia Woolf

courage
It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top. - Virginia Woolf

It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.

Virginia Woolf

dreams truth
Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top. - Virginia Woolf

Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.

Virginia Woolf

dreams truth
If we help an educated man's daughter to go to Cambridge are we not forcing her to think not about education but about war? - not how she can learn, but how she can fight in order that she might win the same advantages as her brothers? - Virginia Woolf

If we help an educated man's daughter to go to Cambridge are we not forcing her to think not about education but about war? - not how she can learn, but how she can fight in order that she might win the same advantages as her brothers?

Virginia Woolf

education war
Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works. - Virginia Woolf

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.

Virginia Woolf

experience