6. Virginia Woolf

1. Biography

Virginia Woolf was born in 1882. She grew up in a literary and intellectual atmosphere and she was educated at King’s College (in London). 

She spent her summers at St. Ives and she remained central to her art. 

For Virginia, water represented two things: it is harmonious and feminine and the resolution of intolerable conflicts in death. 

The death of her mother in 1895 when Virginia was only thirteen and she had her first nervous breakdown and she began to rebel against her father. 

It was only with her father’s death in 1904 that Woolf began her own life and literary career. Virginiahad a radical thinking with a revolutionary stream-of-consciousness prose style. 

In 1912 Virginia married Leonard Woolf and in 1915 she published ‘The Voyage Out’ followed a traditional pattern. At this time she entered a nursing home and attempted suicide by taking drugs. In 1925 ‘Mrs Dalloway’ appeared and was followed by To the Lighthouse and Orlando. She was a very talented literary critic and a brilliant essayist, as was her volume of literary essays ‘The Common Reader’. 

In 1929 she delivered two lectures at Cambridge. ‘A room of One’s Own’ is a work of great impact on the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1929 she began to work on ‘The Waves’. The Second World War increased her anxiety and fears. She died in 1941 at 59. 

A Modernist novelist

Virginia Woolf was interested in giving voice to the complex inner world of feeling and memory and conceived the human personality as a continuous shift of impressions and emotions. 

The omniscient narrator disappeared and the point of view shifted inside the characters’ minds with the associations of ideas, momentary impressions presented as a continuous flux. She contributed to Modernism with the essay Modern Fiction (1919). 

2. Mrs D...

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