Long Noted As Novelist
Mrs. Woolf's First Work Was Published in 1915
Mrs. Virginia Woolf was a granddaughter of Thackeray and a relative of the Darwins, Symondses and Stracheys. She grew up in a household that Stevenson, Ruskin, Lowell, Hardy, Meredith and other writers visited. As the wife of Leonard Woolf and the sister-in-law of Clive Bell, Mrs. Woolf had a literary circle of her own.
She was the author of fifteen books of high quality, in which the critics met up with at least four different kinds of thinking and writing. This led to her being characterized as "the multiple Mrs. Woolf."
In "Three Guineas" Mrs. Woolf replied to the question of a barrister: "How in your opinion are we to prevent war?" The keynote of this work was her remark that the inquiry must be unique in the history of human correspondence, "since when before has an educated man asked a woman how in her opinion war can be prevented."
Of one of her novels, "The Years," Ralph Thompson, book reviewer of The New York Times, said: "Mrs. Woolf is nearest perfection when dealing with the past or with a present that has already begun to lose itself in the past. Then she is near perfection indeed."
When not working on novels and longer essays, Mrs. Woolf frequently wrote critical articles for literary magazines, entering a number of literary controversies. One of her last tilts was with book reviewers in December, 1939. She contended it was a "public duty" to abolish the book reviewer, holding that reviews were so hurriedly written that the reviewer was unable to deal adequately with the books his editor sent him. Mrs. Woolf declared no Act of Parliament would be necessary to abolish the reviewer, contending that the tendencies she deplored would soon condition him out of existence.
Commenting editorially on Mrs. Woolf's description of Augustine Birrell, as a "born writer," The New York Times in August, 1930, described Mrs. Woolf as "one of the most subtle, original and modern of moderns, herself a born writer." Mrs. Woolf's published works began with "The Voyage" in 1915, followed by "Night and Day" in 1919, "Monday or Tuesday" in 1921, "Jacob's Room" in 1922, "The Common Reader," and "Mrs. Dalloway" in 1925; "To the Lighthouse," in 1927; "Orlando" and "A Room of One's Own" in 1929; "The Waves," 1931; "The Common Reader, Second Series," in 1932; "Flush," in 1933; "The Years," in 1937; "Three Guineas," in 1938, and "Roger Fry, A Biography," in 1940.
All her education was received at home from private tutors. Her favorite recreation was printing, in which she joined with her husband, Leonard Woolf, novelist and essayist, founder of the Hogarth Press and former literary editor of The Nation.