Why should you read Virginia Woolf? - Iseult Gillespie
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Woolf’s fluctuating mental states greatly informed her creative endeavors, and she wrote extensively of the ways in which states from loneliness to mischief shaped her work. Her letters and diaries form an important part of her legacy, and give us an insight into the great mind behind some of the most important Modernist literature and the life Woolf lived. Find extracts of her diary here. The one surviving recording of her voice and rare photographs can be found here.
In the above recording, Woolf states that “words belong to each other” - words only make meaning by being combined in new ways. She combined words in new and surprising ways in order to write of topics that had not been the focus of mainstream literature previously - gender and sexuality, depression, privacy, boredom. Compared to most women in her day, Woolf was in a unique position to consider these questions that became central to Modernism. Read about her extraordinary upbringing and education here. Woolf drew inspiration for Orlando from her friend and lover Vita Sackville-West. Read more about their relationship here.
In addition to writing fiction and nonfiction, Woolf supported many careers and advanced the circulation of experimental writing through her work with the Hogarth Press, founded with her husband Leonard. She also published her own work under Hogarth, and these editions include beautiful cover illustrations by her sister Vanessa.
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