Another Virgina Woolf biography post: Further review and notes on authors to read

Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee (4 out of 5 stars)

I finished this one awhile back (mid-March), but had to return it to the library before I had a chance to really complete my review…or to make notes on the other authors I was inspired to read because of their connection to her.  I don’t of course remember all of my initial impressions of this book, and biographies (especially of the length of this one) are difficult to sum up, but I shall attempt to…

I first came across Woolf’s work via Orlando in high school (and it’s still my favorite work by her, and one that I feel is horribly underappreciated), and then later read The Voyage Out, To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, and possibly Between the Acts in a wonderful class on Woolf and Shakespeare taught by the fabulous L. Brown Kennedy of Hampshire College.  I spurred to re-read/read more Woolf and the biography by the Woolf in Winter read-along.    My initial thoughts on the biography and my plans for future Woolf reading (which are currently stalled by having too many other yummy books to read) can be found at

At the beginning of the biography, Lee quotes from Virginia Woolf’s diary entry on February 17th, 1922, “I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.”  Woolf’s life is usually portrayed as pretty tragic (after all she does kill her self), but it was full of many joyous moments, and Lee does a job of balancing talking about her work and her life and the good and the bad in her life.  This book is not a death knell.  It’s a rich vibrant picture of a life.

As I stated in my first review one of the things I enjoyed about the biography was finding out more about her influences. Some of the authors I want to checkout are listed below. Eek! So many books, so little time! Does anyone else have this problem (where reading one books, leads to like 20 more to be read)?

<insert cut tag>

William Thackery: Vanity Fair (got a free copy at the Kensington Book Fair)

Thomas Caryle: Sartor Resartus

Leslie Stephen (her father): Hours in a Library, Dictionary of National Biography

Charles Lamb

Henry James

Ethyl Smyth (lover): The Wreckers (opera) and others

G.E. Moore: Principia Ethica

Leonard Woolf (husband): The Wise Virgins and others

Hogarth Press

Katherine Mansfield (lover):

T.S. Eliot: The Waste Land and others

Christopher Isherwood: Sally Bowles (basis for Cabaret) and others

F.M. Mayor: The Rector’s Daughter

Olivia by Dorothy Bussy

George Elliot

Thomas Hardy

Spenser: Faerie Queen

Samuel Pepys



Geraldine Jewsbury

Jane Carlye

Vita Sackville-West (lover, model for Orlando): All Passion Spent (bought at Kensington Book Fair) and others

Radclyffe Hall: The Well of Loneliness

D.H. Lawrence: The Rainbow and others



Vera Brittain: Testament of Youth

Goldsmith: Citizen of the World

Robert Flaherty: Man of Aran (documentary)

Elizabeth Bowen: The Last September and others

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