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Selected Diaries by Virginia Woolf, Quentin Bell

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October 2010 Guest Editor Juliet Gardiner on The Diary of Virginia Woolf...

In my view there is no finer diarist of the 20th century than Virginia Woolf, and the two volumes that span the decade from 1931 to her suicide in 1941provide a penetrating and poetic witness to the period from the pen of a writer of cool perception and matchless literary originality.


Selected Diaries by Virginia Woolf, Quentin Bell

Virginia Woolf turned to her diary as to an intimate friend, to whom she could freely and spontaneously confide her thoughts on public events or the joys and trials of domestic life. Between 1st January 1915 and her death in 1941 she regularly recorded her thoughts with unfailing grace, courage, honesty and wit. The result is one of the greatest diaries in the English language.


Her nephew Quentin Bell claims that the thirty volumes of Woolf's diary are a masterpiece.Anne Olivier Bell has reduced them to a single volume. It think it is still a masterpiece -- A.S. Byatt * Evening Standard * I stick by the old heresy, that Woolf's diary is her greatest achievement. An enthrallingly uncensored portrait of a brilliantly perceptive mind as it moves through a fascinating world in complex times -- Alan Hollinghurst * New York Times * One of the glories of our literature -- Paul Levy She made portraits exact, more clairvoyant, more living than those of any writer I know -- P.N. Furbank A work of the highest imaginative genius, with powers of perception and description unexampled in our time -- Isaiah Berlin

About the Author

Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882, the daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen, first editor of The Dictionary of National Biography. After his death in 1904 Virginia and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, moved to Bloomsbury and became the centre of 'The Bloomsbury Group'. This informal collective of artists and writers which included Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture. In 1912 Virginia married Leonard Woolf, a writer and social reformer. Three years later, her first novel The Voyage Out was published, followed by Night and Day (1919) and Jacob's Room (1922). These first novels show the development of Virginia Woolf's distinctive and innovative narrative style. It was during this time that she and Leonard Woolf founded The Hogarth Press with the publication of the co-authored Two Stories in 1917, hand-printed in the dining room of their house in Surrey. Between 1925 and 1931 Virginia Woolf produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, from Mrs Dalloway (1925) to the poetic and highly experimental novel The Waves (1931). She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography, including the playfully subversive Orlando (1928) and A Room of One's Own (1929), a passionate feminist essay. This intense creative productivity was often matched by periods of mental illness, from which she had suffered since her mother's death in 1895. On 28 March 1941, a few months before the publication of her final novel, Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf committed suicide.

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Book Info

Publication date

4th September 2008


Virginia Woolf, Quentin Bell

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Vintage Classics an imprint of CCV


544 pages


Biography / Autobiography
Literary Fiction

Autobiography: literary
Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: from c 1900 -



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