Virginia Woolf in 1902; photograph by George Charles Beresford.
|Born||Adeline Virginia Stephen
25 January 1882
Kensington, Middlesex, England
|Died||28 March 1941
River Ouse, near Lewes, Sussex, England
|Occupation||Novelist, essayist, publisher, critic|
|Alma mater||King's College London|
|Notable works||To the Lighthouse
Orlando: A Biography
A Room of One's Own
(m. 1912–1941; her death)
Adeline Virginia Woolf (née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century.
During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929), with its famous dictum, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."
- 1 Early life
- 2 Bloomsbury
- 3 Work
- 4 Death
- 5 Modern scholarship and interpretations
- 6 Depictions
- 7 Tributes
- 8 Exhibition
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Bibliography
- 12.1 Works by Virginia Woolf
- 12.2 Other
- 13 External links
Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen at 22 Hyde Park Gate in Kensington, London. Her parents were Sir Leslie Stephen (1832–1904) and Julia Prinsep Duckworth Stephen (née Jackson, 1846–1895). Leslie Stephen was a notable historian, author, critic and mountaineer. He was a founding editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, a work that would influence Woolf's later experimental biographies. Julia Stephen was born in British India to Dr. John and Maria Pattle Jackson. She was the niece of the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and first cousin of the temperance leader Lady Henry Somerset. Julia moved to England with her mother, where she served as a model for Pre-Raphaelite painters such as Edward Burne-Jones. Julia named her daughter after the Pattle family: Adeline after Lady Henry's sister, who married George Russell, 10th Duke of Bedford; and Virginia, the name of yet another sister (who died young) but also of their mother, Julia's aunt.
Woolf was educated by her parents in their literate and well-connected household. Her parents had each been married previously and been widowed, and, consequently, the household contained the children of three marriages. Julia had three children by her first husband, Herbert Duckworth: George, Stella, and Gerald Duckworth. Leslie had first married Harriet Marian (Minny) Thackeray (1840–1875), the daughter of William Thackeray, and they had one daughter: Laura Makepeace Stephen, who was declared mentally disabled and lived with the family until she was institutionalised in 1891. Leslie and Julia had four children together: Vanessa Stephen (later known as Vanessa Bell) (1879), Thoby Stephen (1880), Virginia (1882), and Adrian Stephen (1883).
Sir Leslie Stephen's eminence as an editor, critic, and biographer, and his connection to William Thackeray, meant that his children were raised in an environment filled with the influences of Victorian literary society. Henry James, George Henry Lewes, and Virginia's honorary godfather, James Russell Lowell, were among the visitors to the house. Julia Stephen was equally well connected. She came from a family of beauties who left their mark on Victorian society as models for Pre-Raphaelite artists and early photographers, including her aunt Julia Margaret Cameron who was also a visitor to the Stephen household. Supplementing these influences was the immense library at the Stephens' house, from which Virginia and Vanessa were taught the classics and English literature. Unlike the girls, their brothers Adrian and Julian (Thoby) were formally educated and sent to Cambridge, a difference that Virginia would resent. The sisters did, however, benefit indirectly from their brothers' Cambridge contacts, as the boys brought their new intellectual friends home to the Stephens' drawing room.
According to Woolf's memoirs, her most vivid childhood memories were not of London but of St Ives, Cornwall, where the family spent every summer until 1895. The Stephens' summer home, Talland House, looked out over Porthminster Bay, and is still standing, though somewhat altered. Memories of these family holidays and impressions of the landscape, especially the Godrevy Lighthouse, informed the fiction Woolf wrote in later years, most notably To the Lighthouse.
The sudden death of her mother in 1895, when Virginia was 13, and that of her half-sister Stella two years later, led to the first of Virginia's several nervous breakdowns. After her mother and half-sister, she quickly lost her surrogate mother, Stella Duckworth, as well as her cherished brother Thoby, when he was in his mid-20s. She was, however, able to take courses of study (some at degree level) in Ancient Greek, Latin, German and history at the Ladies' Department of King's College London between 1897 and 1901. This brought her into contact with some of the early reformers of women's higher education such as the principal of the Ladies' Department, Lilian Faithfull (one of the so-called Steamboat ladies), Clara Pater (sister of the more famous Walter) and George Warr. Her sister Vanessa also studied Latin, Italian, art and architecture at King's Ladies' Department. In 2013 Woolf was honoured by her alma mater with the opening of a building named after her on Kingsway (now Kings College, London).
The death of her father in 1904 provoked her most alarming collapse and she was briefly institutionalised. She spent time recovering at her friend Violet Dickinson's house, and at her aunt Caroline's house in Cambridge. Modern scholars (including her nephew and biographer, Quentin Bell) have suggested her breakdowns and subsequent recurring depressive periods were also influenced by the sexual abuse to which she and her sister Vanessa were subjected by their half-brothers George and Gerald Duckworth (which Woolf recalls in her autobiographical essays A Sketch of the Past and 22 Hyde Park Gate).
Throughout her life, Woolf was plagued by periodic mood swings and associated illnesses. She spent three short periods in 1910, 1912 and 1913 at Burley House, 15 Cambridge Park, Twickenham, described as "a private nursing home for women with nervous disorder". Though this instability often affected her social life, her literary productivity continued with few breaks throughout her life.
Woolf came to know Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Rupert Brooke, Saxon Sydney-Turner, Duncan Grant, Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, David Garnett, and Roger Fry, who together formed the nucleus of the intellectual circle of writers and artists known as the Bloomsbury Group. Several members of the group attained notoriety in 1910 with the Dreadnought hoax, which Virginia participated in disguised as a male Abyssinian royal. Her complete 1940 talk on the hoax was discovered and is published in the memoirs collected in the expanded edition of The Platform of Time (2008). In 1907 Vanessa married Clive Bell, and the couple's interest in avant garde art would have an important influence on Woolf's development as an author.
Virginia Stephen married the writer Leonard Woolf on 10 August 1912. Despite his low material status (Woolf referring to Leonard during their engagement as a "penniless Jew") the couple shared a close bond. Indeed, in 1937, Woolf wrote in her diary: "Love-making—after 25 years can't bear to be separate ... you see it is enormous pleasure being wanted: a wife. And our marriage so complete." The two also collaborated professionally, in 1917 founding the Hogarth Press, which subsequently published Virginia's novels along with works by T. S. Eliot, Laurens van der Post, and others. The Press also commissioned works by contemporary artists, including Dora Carrington and Vanessa Bell.
The ethos of the Bloomsbury group encouraged a liberal approach to sexuality, and in 1922 she met the writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West, wife of Harold Nicolson. After a tentative start, they began a sexual relationship, which, according to Sackville-West in a letter to her husband dated August 17, 1926, was only twice consummated. However, Virginia's intimacy with Vita seems to have continued into the early 1930s. In 1928, Woolf presented Sackville-West with Orlando, a fantastical biography in which the eponymous hero's life spans three centuries and both sexes. Nigel Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West's son, wrote, "The effect of Vita on Virginia is all contained in Orlando, the longest and most charming love letter in literature, in which she explores Vita, weaves her in and out of the centuries, tosses her from one sex to the other, plays with her, dresses her in furs, lace and emeralds, teases her, flirts with her, drops a veil of mist around her." After their affair ended, the two women remained friends until Woolf's death in 1941. Virginia Woolf also remained close to her surviving siblings, Adrian and Vanessa; Thoby had died of typhoid fever at the age of 26.
|Rare recording of Virginia Woolf, 1937, speaking about the craftsmanship of words on BBC Radio|
Woolf began writing professionally in 1900. The first of her writings to be accepted for publication, "Haworth, November 1904", a journalistic account of a visit to the Brontë family home at Haworth, was published anonymously in a women's supplement to a clerical journal, The Guardian in December 1904. From 1905 she wrote for The Times Literary Supplement. Her first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915 by her half-brother's imprint, Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd. This novel was originally titled Melymbrosia, but Woolf repeatedly changed the draft. An earlier version of The Voyage Out has been reconstructed by Woolf scholar Louise DeSalvo and is now available to the public under the intended title. DeSalvo argues that many of the changes Woolf made in the text were in response to changes in her own life.
Woolf went on to publish novels and essays as a public intellectual to both critical and popular success. Much of her work was self-published through the Hogarth Press. She is seen as a major twentieth-century novelist and one of the foremost modernists.
Woolf is considered a major innovator in the English language. In her works she experimented with stream of consciousness and the underlying psychological as well as emotional motives of characters. Woolf's reputation declined sharply after World War II, but her importance was re-established with the growth of feminist criticism in the 1970s.
Virginia Woolf's peculiarities as a fiction writer have tended to obscure her central strength: she is arguably the major lyrical novelist in the English language. Her novels are highly experimental: a narrative, frequently uneventful and commonplace, is refracted—and sometimes almost dissolved—in the characters' receptive consciousness. Intense lyricism and stylistic virtuosity fuse to create a world overabundant with auditory and visual impressions. Woolf has often been credited with stream of consciousness writing alongside her modernist contemporaries like James Joyce and Joseph Conrad.
The intensity of Virginia Woolf's poetic vision elevates the ordinary, sometimes banal settings—often wartime environments—of most of her novels. For example, Mrs Dalloway (1925) centres on the efforts of Clarissa Dalloway, a middle-aged society woman, to organise a party, even as her life is paralleled with that of Septimus Warren Smith, a working-class veteran who has returned from the First World War bearing deep psychological scars.
To the Lighthouse (1927) is set on two days ten years apart. The plot centres on the Ramsay family's anticipation of and reflection upon a visit to a lighthouse and the connected familial tensions. One of the primary themes of the novel is the struggle in the creative process that beset painter Lily Briscoe while she struggles to paint in the midst of the family drama. The novel is also a meditation upon the lives of a nation's inhabitants in the midst of war, and of the people left behind. It also explores the passage of time, and how women are forced by society to allow men to take emotional strength from them.
Orlando (1928) is one of Virginia Woolf's lightest novels. A parodic biography of a young nobleman who lives for three centuries without ageing much past thirty (but who does abruptly turn into a woman), the book is in part a portrait of Woolf's lover Vita Sackville-West. It was meant to console Vita for the loss of her ancestral home, though it is also a satirical treatment of Vita and her work. In Orlando, the techniques of historical biographers are being ridiculed; the character of a pompous biographer is being assumed in order for it to be mocked.
The Waves (1931) presents a group of six friends whose reflections, which are closer to recitatives than to interior monologues proper, create a wave-like atmosphere that is more akin to a prose poem than to a plot-centred novel.
Flush: A Biography (1933) is a part-fiction, part-biography of the cocker spaniel owned by Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The book is written from the dog's point of view. Woolf was inspired to write this book from the success of the Rudolf Besier play The Barretts of Wimpole Street. In the play, Flush is on stage for much of the action. The play was produced for the first time in 1932 by the actress Katharine Cornell.
Her last work, Between the Acts (1941), sums up and magnifies Woolf's chief preoccupations: the transformation of life through art, sexual ambivalence, and meditation on the themes of flux of time and life, presented simultaneously as corrosion and rejuvenation—all set in a highly imaginative and symbolic narrative encompassing almost all of English history. This book is the most lyrical of all her works, not only in feeling but in style, being chiefly written in verse. While Woolf's work can be understood as consistently in dialogue with Bloomsbury, particularly its tendency (informed by G. E. Moore, among others) towards doctrinaire rationalism, it is not a simple recapitulation of the coterie's ideals.
Attitudes toward Judaism, Christianity and fascism
Though happily married to a Jewish man, Woolf often wrote of Jewish characters in stereotypical archetypes and generalisations, including describing some of her Jewish characters as physically repulsive and dirty. For example, while traveling on a cruise to Portugal she protests at finding "a great many Portuguese Jews on board, and other repulsive objects, but we keep clear of them". Furthermore, she wrote in her diary: "I do not like the Jewish voice; I do not like the Jewish laugh." In a 1930 letter to the composer Ethel Smyth, quoted in Nigel Nicolson's biography Virginia Woolf, she recollects her boasts of Leonard's Jewishness confirming her snobbish tendencies, "How I hated marrying a Jew—What a snob I was, for they have immense vitality."
In another letter to Smyth, Woolf gives a scathing denunciation of Christianity, seeing it as self-righteous "egotism" and stating "my Jew has more religion in one toenail—more human love, in one hair."
After completing the manuscript of her last (posthumously published) novel, Between the Acts, Woolf fell into a depression similar to that which she had earlier experienced. The onset of World War II, the destruction of her London home during the Blitz, and the cool reception given to her biography of her late friend Roger Fry all worsened her condition until she was unable to work. On 28 March 1941, Woolf drowned herself by filling her overcoat pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home. Woolf's body was not found until 18 April 1941. Her husband buried her cremated remains under an elm in the garden of Monk's House, their home in Rodmell, Sussex.
In her last note to her husband she wrote:
Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.
Modern scholarship and interpretations
Though at least one biography of Virginia Woolf appeared in her lifetime, the first authoritative study of her life was published in 1972 by her nephew Quentin Bell. Hermione Lee's 1996 biography Virginia Woolf provides a thorough and authoritative examination of Woolf's life and work. In 2001 Louise DeSalvo and Mitchell A. Leaska edited The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Julia Briggs's Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life (2005) focuses on Woolf's writing, including her novels and her commentary on the creative process, to illuminate her life.
Recently, studies of Virginia Woolf have focused on feminist and lesbian themes in her work, such as in the 1997 collection of critical essays, Virginia Woolf: Lesbian Readings, edited by Eileen Barrett and Patricia Cramer.
Woolf's best-known nonfiction works, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938), examine the difficulties that female writers and intellectuals faced because men held disproportionate legal and economic power and the future of women in education and society, as the societal effects of industrialization and birth control had not yet fully been realized. In The Second Sex (1949), Simone de Beauvoir counts, of all women who ever lived, only three female writers—Emily Brontë, Woolf and "sometimes" Katherine Mansfield—who have explored "the given."
Much examination has been made of Woolf's mental illness, described as a "manic-depressive illness" in Thomas Caramagno's 1992 book, The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-Depressive Illness, in which he also warns against the "neurotic-genius" way of looking at mental illness, where people rationalise that creativity is somehow born of mental illness. In two books by Stephen Trombley, Woolf is described as having a confrontational relationship with her doctors, and possibly being a woman who is a "victim of male medicine", referring to the contemporary relative lack of understanding about mental illness. Thomas Szasz's book My Madness Saved Me: The Madness and Marriage of Virginia Woolf was published in 2006.
Irene Coates's book Who's Afraid of Leonard Woolf: A Case for the Sanity of Virginia Woolf holds that Leonard Woolf's treatment of his wife encouraged her ill health and ultimately was responsible for her death. Though extensively researched from the feminist perspective, this view is not accepted by Leonard's family and some critiques. Victoria Glendinning's book Leonard Woolf: A Biography argues that Leonard Woolf was not only supportive of his wife but enabled her to live as long as she did by providing her with the life and atmosphere she needed to live and write. Virginia's own diaries support this view of the Woolfs' marriage.
Woolf's fiction is also studied for its insight into shell shock, war, class and modern British society.
Michael Cunningham's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours focused on three generations of women affected by Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway. In 2002, a film version of the novel was released starring Nicole Kidman as Woolf, a role for which she won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress. The film also starred Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep and featured an award-winning score by the American composer Philip Glass. Susan Sellers' novel Vanessa and Virginia (2008) explores the close sibling relationship between Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell. It was adapted for the stage by Elizabeth Wright in 2010 and first performed by Moving Stories Theatre Company. Priya Parmar's 2014 novel Vanessa and Her Sister also examined the Stephen sisters' relationship during the early years of their association with what became known as the Bloomsbury Group. Virginia is portrayed by both Lydia Leonard and Catherine McCormack in the BBC's three part drama series Life in Squares.
- Interior monologue
- Stream of consciousness (narrative mode)
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- It has been suggested that Woolf bound books to help cope with her depression, as is hinted at in her writing: "A great part of every day is not lived consciously. one walks, eats, sees things, deals with what has to be done; the broken vacuum cleaner; ... cooking dinner; bookbinding."
- Lee, Hermione. Virginia Woolf. New York: Vintage, 1999, p. 185.
- Gordon, Lyndall (May 2005). "Woolf, (Adeline) Virginia (1882–1941)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37018. Retrieved 2016-02-08. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- Bell, Alan (September 2004). "Stephen, Sir Leslie (1832–1904)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36271. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- Smith College libraries biography of Julia Prinsep Stephen
- Meyer, Robert (1998). Case Studies in Abnormal Behaviour. Allyn and Bacon.
- Article in "The Huffingtonpost"
- Jones, Christine Kenyon; Snaith, Anna (2010). ""Tilting at Universities": Woolf at King's College London". Woolf Studies Annual 16: 1–44.
- "Virginia Woolf honoured by new Strand Campus building". King's College London. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- Lewis, Alison M (Spring 2001). "Caroline Stephen and her niece, Virginia Woolf". Journal of the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts (21). Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Bell 1996: 44
- Pearce, Brian Louis (2007). Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group in Twickenham. Borough of Twickenham Local History Society. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-903341-80-6.
- Briggs, Virginia Woolf (2005), 69–70
- "Virginia and Leonard Woolf marry". History. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Claire Messud (10 December 2006). "The Husband". New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2008.
- Boynton, Victoria and Malin, Jo (2005) Encyclopedia of Women's Autobiography: K-Z Greenwood Press p. 580.
- Eileen Barrett and Patricia Cramer Virginia Woolf Lesbian Readings, New York University Press, 1997, p.126
- Blamires, Harry (1983) A Guide to twentieth century literature in English Routledge, p. 307, ISBN 978-0-416-36450-7.
- Briggs, Julia. Virginia Woolf; An Inner Life. New York: Mariner Books, 2006, p. 13.
- Liukkonen, Petri. "Virginia Woolf". Books and Writers. Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 2015-02-10. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- Haule, J. (1982). Melymbrosia: An Early Version of "The Voyage out". Contemporary Literature, 23, 100–104.
- Lee, Hermione: Virginia Woolf. Knopf, 1997.
- Critical Essays on Virginia Woolf, Morris Beja, 1985, Introduction, p. 1.
- Critical Essays on Virginia Woolf, Morris Beja, 1985, Introduction, pp. 1, 3, 53.
- The Hours DVD, "Special Features", "The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf", 2003.
- "Modernism - Literature Periods & Movements". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- Critical Essays on Virginia Woolf, Morris Beja, 1985, pp. 13, 53.
- Critical Essays on Virginia Woolf, Morris Beja, 1985, pp. 15–17.
- The Novels of Virginia Woolf, Hermione Lee, 1977, pp. 138–157.
- Critical Essays on Virginia Woolf, Morris Beja, 1985, p. 19.
- Critical Essays on Virginia Woolf, Morris Beja, 1985, p. 24.
- "From Clapham to Bloomsbury: a genealogy of morals", Professor Gertrude Himmelfarb, 2001.
- Tales of abjection and miscegenation: Virginia Woolf's and Leonard Woolf's Jewish stories Twentieth Century Literature Fall 2003, by Leena Kore Schroder,
- Forrester, Viviane (2015). Virginia Woolf: A Portrait. United States: Columbia University Press. p. 47. ISBN 0231153562.
- "Mr. Virginia Woolf". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
- The Letters of Virginia Woolf, Volume Five 1932–1935, Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann, 1979, p. 321.
- Panken, Shirley (1987). "'Oh that our human pain could here have ending'—Between the Acts". Virginia Woolf and the "Lust of Creation": A Psychoanalytic Exploration. SUNY Press. pp. 260–262. ISBN 978-0-88706-200-1. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
- Jones, Josh. "Virginia Woolf’s Handwritten Suicide Note: A Painful and Poignant Farewell (1941)". Open Culture. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- Rose, Phyllis (1986). Woman of Letters: A Life of Virginia Woolf. Routledge. p. 243. ISBN 0-86358-066-1. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
- Virginia Woolf: The Patterns of Ordinary Experience
- Beauvoir, Simone de (1949). The Second Sex. Trans. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier (translated 2009). Random House: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 748. ISBN 978-0-307-26556-2.
- Caramagno, Thomas (1995). The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-Depressive Illness. Berkeley; Oxford: University of California Press. ISBN 0520205049; ISBN 9780520205048.
- Trombley, Stephen (1981). All that summer she was mad: Virginia Woolf and her doctors. London: Junction Books. ISBN 086245039X; ISBN 9780862450397.
- Schlesinger, Judith (December 10, 2000). "Virginia Woolf: a revisionist tale". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- "Mr. Virginia Woolf". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
- "Vanessa and Her Sister". Goodreads.
- "The Bloomsbury group". bbc.co.uk/programmes. BBC. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
- Place Settings. Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved on 2015-08-06.
- Brown, Mark (July 9, 2014). "Virginia Woolf celebrated in gallery she spurned as it was 'filled with men'". The Guardian.
Works by Virginia Woolf
- The Voyage Out (1915)
- Night and Day (1919)
- Jacob's Room (1922)
- Mrs Dalloway (1925)
- To the Lighthouse (1927)
- Orlando (1928)
- The Waves (1931)
- The Years (1937)
- Between the Acts (1941)
Short story collections
- Kew Gardens (short story) (1919)
- Monday or Tuesday (1921)
- A Haunted House and Other Short Stories (1944)
- Mrs Dalloway's Party (1973)
- The Complete Shorter Fiction (1985)
- Carlyle's House and Other Sketches (2003)
Virginia Woolf published three books to which she gave the subtitle "A Biography":
- Orlando: A Biography (1928, usually characterised as a novel inspired by the life of Vita Sackville-West)
- Flush: A Biography (1933, more explicitly cross-genre: fiction as "stream of consciousness" tale by Flush, a dog; non-fiction in the sense of telling the story of the owner of the dog, Elizabeth Barrett Browning), reprinted in 2005 by Persephone Books
- Roger Fry: A Biography (1940, usually characterised as non-fiction, however: "[Woolf's] novelistic skills worked against her talent as a biographer, for her impressionistic observations jostled uncomfortably with the simultaneous need to marshal a multitude of facts.")
- Modern Fiction (1919)
- The Common Reader (1925)
- A Room of One's Own (1929)
- On Being Ill (1930)
- The London Scene (1931)
- The Common Reader: Second Series (1932)
- Three Guineas (1938)
- The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (1942)
- The Moment and Other Essays (1947)
- The Captain's Death Bed And Other Essays (1950)
- Granite and Rainbow (1958)
- Books and Portraits (1978)
- Women And Writing (1979)
- Collected Essays (four volumes)
- Freshwater: A Comedy (performed in 1923, revised in 1935, and published in 1976)
- Stavrogin's Confession & the Plan of 'The Life of a Great Sinner, from the notes of Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated in partnership with S. S. Koteliansky (1922)
Autobiographical writings and diaries
- A Writer's Diary (1953)—Extracts from the complete diary
- Moments of Being (1976)
- A Moment's Liberty: the shorter diary (1990)
- The Diary of Virginia Woolf (five volumes)—Diary of Virginia Woolf from 1915 to 1941
- Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals, 1897–1909 (1990)
- Travels With Virginia Woolf (1993)—Greek travel diary of Virginia Woolf, edited by Jan Morris
- The Platform of Time: Memoirs of Family and Friends, Expanded Edition, edited by S. P. Rosenbaum (London, Hesperus, 2008)
- Congenial Spirits: The Selected Letters (1993)
- The Letters of Virginia Woolf 1888–1941 (six volumes, 1975–1980)
- Paper Darts: The Illustrated Letters of Virginia Woolf (1991)
- Selections Autobiographical and Imaginative from the Works of George Gissing ed. Alfred C. Gissing, with an introduction by Virginia Woolf (London & New York, 1929)
- Bell, Quentin. Virginia Woolf: A Biography. Rev. ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1996.
- Bennett, Maxwell. Virginia Woolf and Neuropsychiatry. Dordrecht, London: Springer, 2013.
- Briggs, Julia. Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2006. ISBN 0-15-603229-5.
- Caramago, Thomas D. The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-Depressive Illness. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
- Curtis, Anthony. "Virginia Woolf: Bloomsbury & Beyond", Haus Books, 2006.
- Dalsimer, Katherine. Virginia Woolf: Becoming a Writer. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-300-09208-3.
- Dally, Peter. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Manic Depression and the Life of Virginia Woolf. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2001.
- Dunn, Jane. A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990.
- Holtby, Winifred (2007) . Virginia Woolf: a critical memoir. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9780826494436.
- Gordon, Lyndall. Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life. New York: Norton, 1984.
- Gruber, Ruth. Virginia Woolf: The Will to Create as a Woman. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005.
- Forrester, Viviane. Virginia Woolf: A Portrait. United States: Columbia University Press, 2015. ISBN 0231153562
- King, James. Virginia Woolf. New York: Norton, 1994.
- Leaska, Mitchell. Granite and Rainbow: The Hidden Life of Virginia Woolf. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
- Lee, Hermione. Virginia Woolf. New York: Knopf, 1997.
- Nicolson, Nigel. Virginia Woolf. New York: Penguin, 2000.
- Poole, Roger. The Unknown Virginia Woolf. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978.
- Reid, Panthea. Art and Affection: A Life of Virginia Woolf. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
- Rosenman, Ellen Bayuk. The Invisible Presence: Virginia Woolf and the Mother-Daughter Relationship. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986.
- Szasz, Thomas. "My Madness Saved Me": The Madness and Marriage of Virginia Woolf. New Brunswick, NJ : Transaction Publishers, 2006.
- Blair, Emily. Virginia Woolf and the Nineteenth-century Domestic Novel. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007. ISBN 0-7914-7119-5.
- Dalgarno, Emily. Virginia Woolf and the Visible World. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-521-03360-8.
- DeSalvo, Louise. Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Her Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989.
- Goldman, Jane. The Feminist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-521-79458-7.
- Hussey, Mark. Virginia Woolf and War. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8156-2537-5.
- Miller, C. Ruth. Virginia Woolf: The Frames of Art and Life. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988. ISBN 0-333-44880-4.
- Paul, Janis M. The Victorian Heritage of Virginia Woolf: The External World in Her Novels. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1988. ISBN 0-937664-73-1.
- Transue, Pamela J. Virginia Woolf and the Politics of Style. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986. ISBN 0-88706-286-5.
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- Archival material relating to Virginia Woolf listed at the UK National Archives
- Biography of Virginia Woolf on the Yale Modernism Lab
- Works by Virginia Woolf at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Virginia Woolf at Internet Archive
- Works by Virginia Woolf at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Rare recordings of Virginia Woolf, Conan Doyle, and others
- Monk's House information at the National Trust
- The Virginia Woolf Collection at the Victoria University Library Special Collections
- Virginia Woolf collection of papers, 1882-1984 (bulk 1912-1940), held by the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library
- The Legacy, full text and audio file
- The Searchlight, full text and audio file