Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

  1. Alexandra Harris
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  • ISBN 9780500515921
  • 21.50 x 13.50 cm
  • Hardback
  • 192pp
  • 46 Illustrations, 0 in colour
  • First published 2011
‘… a masterclass in the art of slimming down scholarship without dumbing it down … armed with the insights from this most enjoyable text, I can’t wait to go back to the novels and try again’ – Sussex Life
‘A wonderfully perceptive, unpretentious study which is pacy in style, riveting in content and perfectly accessible to the most obdurate Woolf-avoider … by the final page Harris has made you desperate to tackle the novels, to get stuck in and to submerge yourself in Woolf’s unmistakable, wholly original and imaginative responses to the world’ – The Daily Mail
‘The critical evaluations of Woolf’s novels are elegant and searching … an ideal introduction’ – The Financial Times

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This gripping new account offers an ideal introduction to both the life and work of Virginia Woolf. It considers each of Woolf’s novels in context, traces the contentious course of her ‘afterlife’, and shows why, seventy years after her death, Virginia Woolf continues to haunt and inspire us.

In 1907, when she was twenty-five and not yet a published novelist, Virginia Stephen had everything still to prove. She felt herself to be at a crossroads: ‘I shall be miserable, or happy; a wordy sentimental creature, or a writer of such English as shall one day burn the pages.’

Today her prose is still blazing; perhaps it burns brighter than ever. For this is the story of how a determined young woman with a notebook became one of the greatest writers of all time. It is a story that sparkles with wit and friendship, language and love, wicked jokes and passionate appreciation of ordinary things. Hers was a life lived with intensity from moment to moment and shaped into the lasting patterns of art. It was also a courageous life, defiant of convention and marred by mental illness.

Alexandra Harris uses vivid flashes of detail to evoke Woolf’s changing backgrounds and preoccupations. We move from the close-packed rhythms of a Victorian childhood to the experiments of ‘Bloomsbury’. We see her ‘drawn on and on’ to tackle ever more challenging forms of writing.

Cultural historian and writer Alexandra Harris is a brilliant, original and wonderfully engaging new voice whose first book, Romantic Moderns, was published to huge acclaim. Born in Sussex in 1981, Harris was educated at the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute, London, and is currently Lecturer in English at the University of Liverpool.


Praise for Romantic Moderns, winner of 
the Guardian First Book Award 2010:
‘It would be impossible to over-emphasize what 
a clever book Romantic Moderns is … not just an important book but a deeply pleasurable one, too.’ The Guardian
‘The originality of Romantic Moderns is the extraordinary breadth of its focus … a joy to read.’ 
The Sunday Times
‘A spectacular debut by a gifted and versatile cultural historian … a beautiful piece of bookmaking.’ Peter Conrad, The Observer