Is the name/character of Clarissa in Mrs Dalloway inspired by or related in any way to Clarissa Harlowe, the character created by Samuel Richardson?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting idea to think about. I don't know where the name "Clarissa" came from, but the character was actually modelled on a friend of Virginia Woolf's called Kitty Maxse. What is interesting about this is that Woolf chose Kitty Maxse because of the way she regarded her as a superficial socialite. Initially, Woolf struggled to depict this character and found it hard to relate to her, however, after some time, she began to explore her soul through using a new writing process known as "tunnelling" that allowed her to metaphorically excavate "caves" behind her characters and explore their interior worlds as well as their exterior worlds. This is what led to the fully formed character of Mrs. Dalloway as expressed in Woolf's famous novel of the same name.