Today in History (1941): Novelist Virginia Woolf Dies


Brooding but talented, these two words can quickly give any person an idea about one of the most well-known influential modernist writers of her time, Virginia Woolf. Her novels still echo her literary genius years after her death.

The literary icon Virginia Woolf became famous for her nonlinear style in writing prose. Her plot-thick writing made her quite a moving force in the European literary world. Some of her most famous and widely-read works are “Mrs. Dalloway” which was published in 1925 and “To the Lighthouse”, published in 1927.

A young Virginia Woolf Image via NPG

Adeline Virginia Stephen was born on January 25, 1882 in Kensington, London, England to prominent parents. Her early life was bountiful for both of her parents were connected well in their social and artistic circles being Sir Leslie Stephen as her father and Julia Prinsep Stephen, her mother.

Images via NPG

Sir Leslie was an accomplished man, he was a historian and author. He was even a prominent figure in the golden age of mountaineering. Virginia’s mother, Julia, was also well-known in her social circles for her early work as a model for painters and her profession as a nurse. Woolf had 3 full siblings and 4 half-siblings, both of her parents were widowed during the time they got married.

The family’s bountiful way of life made sure that Virginia did not lack the skills and knowledge she needed to succeed in the creative world. Their house at Kensington was home to a vast Victorian library where the young writer forged her passion in the arts. Woolf published her first work, a novel titled “The Voyage Out” in 1913.

Woolf with her father, Sir Leslie Stephen Image via NPG

Virginia Woolf will always be remembered in the literary world through her great novels. Although it was undeniable that Woolf had talent, the writer was also known to be prone to dramatic mood swings. She also suffered from deep bouts of depression. Woolf encountered a series of harrowing events in her life that led to her nervous breakdown, one being sexually abused by her two half-brothers. Also, the death of her mother, Julia and half-sister Stella on separate times contributed to her ailing mental health. The final blow that led to her institutionalization was the death of her father in 1904.

T.S. Eliot with Virginia Woolf Image via NPG

Learned, talented and up for the challenge of the early literature world, Virginia became a prominent figure among her colleagues with her own personal brand of free from prose. One of which, became her husband – fellow writer and intellectual Leonard Woolf.

However, her marriage to Leonard could not save her from her mental problems. On March 28, 1941, Virginia drowned herself by putting stones in her overcoat pockets and letting the stream’s current take her away. Her body was found three weeks later. The literary icon was 59.

All information used in this article were sourced from Biography, National Portrait Gallery, History, and Wikipedia – Virginia Woolf.

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Are you a fan of Virginia Woolf? You might want to check out Reel vs. Real: Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf from our Magazine.

written by cheeo on 2014-03-28 #lifestyle #writer #literature #today-in-history-series #virginia-woolf

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