AUTHOR OF THE DAY: Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf was born on January 25, 1882 in London, England. Born into a privilege household filled with free-thinkers, Woolf was able to develop her talent from an early age.
Growing up in an intellectually and artistically well-connected family, Woolf was allowed to hone her writing skills when she first created a family newspaper, the Hyde Park Gate News in her childhood. Woolf was known for being extremely light-hearted and playful and recorded family anecdotes in her newspaper.
Although Woolf was a happy child, she experienced a dark period at the age of 6, when she was sexually abused by her half-brothers. This traumatic event was deepened by the sudden death of her mother at the age of 49, which propelled her into a nervous breakdown. Two years later her half-sister passed away, which added to her depression.
Despite her despair, Woolf intellectually fed herself by taking courses in German, Greek and Latin at the Ladies’ Department of King’s College London. Then in 1904 her father passed away, which pushed her to be institutionalized. This pattern between literary exploration and personal desperation and despair reigned in her lifetime.
Although bouts of depression and severe mood swings plagued Woolf, her literary career soared. She was famous for playing with several literary devices, such as dream-like scenes, free form prose, complicated plot lines and unusual narrative point of views. By her mid-forties, Woolf had established herself as a household name. She habitually spoke in several colleges and wrote compelling essays and self-published short stories.
Woolf was able to find love with a man named, Leonard; they remained sweethearts for life. He was extremely aware and supportive of Woolf’s internal conflict. While working on Between the Acts, Leonard noticed her inevitable demise. During this time their home was destroyed in London during the Blitz. Leonard, a Jewish man, was in danger of being captured by the Nazis. This detrimental fact pushed Woolf into her suicide. On March 28, 1941, Woolf filled the pocket’s of her overcoat with stones and walked out into the River Ouse, where the stream took her. In her last note to her loving 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."
After World War II, her popularity declined, but surged in the 1970s, during the feminist movement. Regardless of Virginia Woolf’s demons she is one of the most influential authors of the 21st century.
Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
To the Lighthouse (1927)
A Room of One’s Own (1929)
The Waves (1931)
Read excerpts by Virginia Woolf here! Get her books here!