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Virginia Woolf Hardcover – October 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Will appeal to newcomers and acolytes alike.” (

“Handsomely illustrated and beribboned, Harris’s little volume is a miracle of clarity and concision, and an example of the brief life at its best.” (The Washington Post)

“The accessibility of this study is grounded upon authentic research and suffused with a lovely literary sensibility.” (Historian)

“This volume is sure to delight both the newbie and seasoned Woolf scholar. Summing Up: Highly recommended.” (Choice)

. . .Harris offers not only summations, but also invaluable nuanced insights about things that Woolf scholars have either missed or neglected―and always with a striking clarity, avoiding the abstruse and abstract.

” (Choice)

About the Author

Alexandra Harris is a cultural historian and writer. She is the recipient of the Guardian First Book Award and a Somerset Maugham Award for Romantic Moderns. She is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Liverpool and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in Oxford and Liverpool.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500515921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500515921
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,431,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Charlus on September 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For those readers who want some knowledge of Virginia Woolf, her work and her circle, without committing to Hermione Lee's definitive biography, this book would be an ideal place to start. In quick, entertaining and well-illustrated chapters, Harris lays out the major events and ideas in the life of this most fascinating of writers with clarity and concision.

When each of the novels come into view, she slows down to provide a quick assessment of each, inserting a few paragraphs of criticism into what is essentially a Brief Life. But the assessments are judicious and acute and enrich the text.

As with all work of this sort, the difficulty remains finding a balance between covering the necessary ground without being exhaustive; Harris mostly achieves this although occasional names are dropped without adequate setup to explain who they were and what their relationship to Woolf was. The upside is that there is not a dull page in the book.

Charmingly bound, with ribbon bookmark and thick paper that creaks as the pages are turned, as well as smartly-chosen photos integrated with the text, this is an ideal gift for budding Woolfians, student and Common Reader alike.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Read2Review on January 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Virginia Woolf is a much loved and respected author. This book covers her life from 1882 through to 1941. However the time line of the book covers from 1882 through to the current day and in the Afterword discusses films, plays and further publications based on and about Virginia Woolf.

I was captivated by this book. I didn't know that Virginia suffered from ill health in the same way that I do, I didn't know that she was a reviewer like me and what caught me completely off guard was the fact that her writing and reviews were for her an escape, a way to relive past memories and to do so safely and was based on those around her. I can completely relate to her on all of these levels and in some way following reading this biography I feel that in a way I am connected to Virginia.

I loved looking at the paintings and drawings made by her sister Vanessa Bell and I also loved the pictures. I love looking over the past and seeing what the dress style was like, how the country looked and much more. The addition of these to the book for me added something very special.

Following this book I am debating to set myself a challenge of reading Virginia's work. I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for something; I just need to work it through in my mind.

I think that Alexandra Harris did an amazing job with this biography and was able to keep me interested from the word go. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. If you have an interest in writing or not this book I guarantee will keep you involved and will open your heart and mind to an extraordinary life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laurel A. Lawrence on May 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Woolf's story ends with no surpise as her suicide is well known. Alexandra Harris has written a book that has nothing new in it but the Contents page reveals fact this no ordinary rehashing of the life of a writer whose life has been well studied and much written about. A joy to read and pictures added much to story about a writer that was driven to accomplish much and she did..
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