Virginia Woolf was born as Adeline Virginia Stephen and grew up in the household of her father, Leslie Stephen, a Victorian and Edwardian literary lion who was visited by many prominent writers of the time. The importance of books in her life is reflected in many of the short stories, such as “Memoirs of a Novelist,” “The Evening Party,” and “A Haunted House”; her father’s extensive personal library provided much of her education, along with some private tutoring (especially in Greek). Despite Katherine Stephen, niece of Leslie Stephen, being the principal of Newnham College at the University of Cambridge (reflected in the story “A Woman’s College from Outside”), Virginia was denied a formal college education...
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Daughter of the eminent editor and critic Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Jackson Duckworth, both of whom had been previously widowed, Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen in 1882 into a solidly late Victorian intellectual and social milieu. Her father’s first wife had been William Makepeace Thackeray’s daughter, James Russell Lowell was her godfather, and visitors to the Stephens’ London household included Henry James, George Meredith, and Thomas Hardy. From childhood on, she had access to her father’s superb library, and she benefited from her father’s guidance and commentary on her rigorous, precocious reading. Nevertheless, unlike her brothers, she did not receive a formal university education, a lack she...
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Born into a family in which literary concerns and artistic pursuits were enthusiastically encouraged, Virginia Woolf was predisposed as a child for a writing career. She was born in London, England, on January 25, 1882. Her father, Sir Leslie Stephen, achieved academic fame as the editor of the Dictionary of National Biography between 1882 and his retirement in 1891. Her mother, Julia Duckworth, who died when Virginia was thirteen, came from a family with aristocratic connections and artistic sensibilities that sometimes inclined toward the frivolous. Woolf’s parents brought to their union (March 26, 1878) children from previous marriages, besides producing four of their own, of whom Virginia was the third. Vanessa, the...
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Respecting the literary tradition that she inherited, Virginia Woolf nevertheless felt compelled to forsake its influence by inventing fictional techniques to explore even more deeply the minds and hearts of people. Like many modern painters and musicians who were her contemporaries, she sought new ways to render the realities of thought and feeling in her novels. By holding up her mirror of fiction at a different angle, she attempted to help readers see themselves in a more revealing light. Readers, troubled by the reflected images, feel moved to contemplate the meaning of their lives.
The preeminent literary figure of the Bloomsbury circle, Adeline Virginia Stephen Woolf is an important modern experimental writer. The second daughter of Leslie Stephen (knighted in 1902) and his second wife, Julia Prinsep Duckworth Stephen, she was born in Kensington, London, on January 25, 1882. Even as a child she exhibited the two traits that would characterize her life: a highly creative imagination and keen intelligence, coupled with extreme nervousness that resulted in breakdowns under stress. Because of this nervousness she did not attend school, but her father, one of London’s leading literati, gave her free rein to use his library at Hyde Park Gate. The family spent its summers at Tallant House, St. Ives, on the...
(The entire section is 896 words.)