Adeline Virginia Stephen 1882-1941

Virginia Woolf photo by George Charles Beresford, in the public domain

By Ken Yaros

Pen name, Virginia Woolf, lived in the greater London area, born of Victorian parents. She lived through enormous changes and challenges as England and the world moved into modern times. Adeline was no stranger to broken families, unexplainable death and disease, war and its upheaval. Throughout her life, severe depression dogged her and undoubtedly influenced her thinking.

She was prolific and in demand for her newspaper articles, essays, and as a speaker on topics considered controversial at the time. Some of her avant-guard topics included gender identification and changing sexual mores.

As a young adult, she hosted weekly meetings at her home for talented though radical thinkers, several of whom would attain fame as artisans, economists and biographers.

It is challenging to summarize this complex author in a brief article, however she sought to mix fact with imagination and was unafraid to explore at the time taboo subjects such as morality of war, disease, female exploitation, mental illness, class and familial prejudice. Her most notable works include:

  1. Mrs. Dalloway (1925) – Exploration of London society post-WWI. Made into a movie.
  2. Orlando (1928) – An exploration of gender and identity.
  3. To the Lighthouse (1927) – A family faces hardship off the coast of Scotland.
  4. A Room of One’s Own (1927) – Essay. Discusses gender in terms of independence and financial constraints facing women.
  5. The Waves (1931) – Woolf’s masterpiece of style, intertwining prose with poetry.
  6. Between the Acts (1941) – Published posthumously, a play related to WWII and fascism.

Image credit: By George Charles Beresford - Filippo Venturi Photography Blog, Public Domain, Link

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