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Author Information: Virginia Woolf

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One of the most talented and original novelists in English literature, Virginia Woolf was born Virginia Stephen on January 25, 1882 to a prominent English family. Her father was the eminent critic Leslie Stephen, and though Woolf received little in the way of formal education, she read avidly from her father's extensive book collection. Despite the material comforts enjoyed by her family, Woolf's childhood was a traumatic one. She suffered through a period of sexual abuse and endured the early deaths of both her mother and brother. For the rest of her life she would be afflicted by mental illness and periods of extreme depression.

Woolf moved with her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, to London in 1904 where she met regularly with many of England's finest young artists and intellectuals. "The Bloomsbury Group," as they would come to be known, included Woolf, fellow novelist E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry, Benjamin Britten and the economist John Maynard Keynes, among others. This vibrant intellectual community proved important to Woolf's maturation as a thinker and an artist as she embarked upon what would be one of the most remarkable writing careers in English history. It also was important to her personally, as she married fellow Bloomsburian Leonard Woolf in 1912.

Virginia Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915 to enthusiastic critical reviews. In 1917 she and Leonard founded the Hogarth Press, a house that would publish many striking and original novels including her own later masterpieces. Woolf followed up The Voyage Out with Night and Day (1919) and Jacob's Room (1922). However, it was with the publication of her next few novels, Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928), and The Waves (1931) that she established herself as one of the most important and innovative novelists in the English-speaking world. Woolf's later works of fiction included The Years (1937) and Between the Acts (1941).

Woolf suffered through bouts of depression throughout her life, including a number of acute breakdowns. Sensing the onset of another breakdown, Woolf drowned herself in 1941.




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