An ideal introduction to the life and work of Virginia Woolf by an award-winning author: the story of a life lived with intensity from moment to moment and shaped into the lasting patterns of art.
In 1907, when she was twenty-five and not yet a published novelist, Virginia Stephen had everything still to prove. She felt herself to be at a crossroads: “I shall be miserable, or happy; a wordy sentimental creature, or a writer of such English as shall one day burn the pages.”
Today her prose is still blazing; perhaps it burns brighter than ever. This is the story of how a determined young woman with a notebook became one of the greatest writers of all time. It is a story that sparkles with wit and friendship, language and love, wicked jokes and passionate appreciation of ordinary things.
In this illuminating new account, Alexandra Harris uses vivid flashes of detail to evoke Woolf’s changing backgrounds and preoccupations. We move from the close-packed rhythms of a Victorian childhood to the experiments of Bloomsbury and Woolf’s trial-and-error answers to the pressing question of how to live. We see her tackling challenging forms of writing, trying out different voices, following flights of fancy, and returning to earth. Above all, we see her making conscious decisions about what to do next.
The book considers each of the novels in context, gives due prominence to a range of Woolf’s dazzlingly inventive essays, traces the contentious course of her “afterlife,” and shows why, seventy years after her death, Virginia Woolf continues to haunt and inspire us. 50 black-and-white illustrations