Virginia Woolf

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Thames & Hudson, Oct 1, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 192 pages

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.

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User Review  - Dickon.Edwards - LibraryThing

Short, sharp introduction to Woolf's life and work, with lots of photos. Despite this, Ms Harris writes with a sophisticated enough style to suit both academics and general readers. She also does what ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AlexanderDS - LibraryThing

The author has certainly achieved her goal. This biography contains enough information to get an idea of who Virginia Woolf was, what she stood for, and if she stood for anything. It is very clearly ... Read full review


Getting Through 18961904
Setting Up 19051915
Making a Mark 19161922
Drawn on and on 19231925
This is it 19251927
A Writers Holiday 19271928
Voices 19291932
The Argument of Art 19321938
Sussex 19381941
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About the author (2011)

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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