Updated May 20, 2004
Biographical criticism has been central to Woolf scholarship. Any Woolf reader needs to read at least one biography, probably more, and to be familiar with her published diaries and letters.
Bell, Quentin. Virginia Woolf: A Biography.
New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972.
PR6045 .O72 Z545 1972
This has been the most authoritative and influential biography of Woolf, though it has been superseded by the more scholarly 1996 biography by Hermione Lee. Quentin Bell was Woolfs nephew, her sister Vanessas son. He and his sister Angelica inherited the Virginia Woolf Estate, controlling access to her papers.
Gordon, Lyndall. Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life.
New York: Norton, 1984; 1991.
PR6045 .O72 Z653 1984B
This feminist biography emphasizes links between Woolfs life and her work, particularly the major novels.
King, James. Virginia
Woolf. New York: Norton, 1995.
PR6045 .O72 Z76 1995B
Hermione. Virginia Woolf. New York: Knopf, 1997.
PR6045 .O72 Z774 1997
Many Woolf scholars view this as the closest we have to a definitive Woolf biography. A newer biography by Mitchell Leaska, Granite and Rainbow (1998), emphasizes the links between Woolf's life and works (see my personal collection). Both Lee and Leaska published monographs about Woolf's novels in 1977.
Leaska, Mitchell. Granite and Rainbow: The Life of Virginia Woolf. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1998.
Leaska also has written a 1977 book about Woolf’s novels, an 1970 book about To the Lighthouse, and has edited some of her journals and letters. The Salmon Library has all of these, but does not have the new biography (I do).
The Measure of Life: Virginia
Woolf’s Last Years. Ithaca,
NY: Cornell UP, 2001.
PR6045 .O72 Z8152 2000
Reid, Panthea. Art and
Affection: A Life of Virginia Woolf.
New York: Oxford UP, 1996.
PR6045 .O72 Z8654 1996
Woolf, Virginia. The Letters of Virginia Woolf. Eds. Nigel Nicolson
and Joanne Trautmann.
6 vols. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975-1980.
PR6045 .O72 Z525 1975 V.1
Contents: v. 1. 1888-1912 (Virginia Stephen)--v. 2. 1912-1922.--v. 3. 1923-1928.--v. 4. 1929-1931.--v. 5. 1932-1935.--v. 6. 1936-1941.
Woolf, Virginia. Moments of Being: Unpublished Autobiographical
Ed. Jeanne Schulkind. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.
PR6045 .O72 Z496 1976
Woolf often spoke of writing her autobiography, but these unpublished autobiographical writings are as close as we have to formal autobiography. The earliest, "Reminiscences," was written at the birth of her first nephew, Julian Bell, supposedly as a biography of her sister Vanessa. The latest, "A Sketch of the Past," was written near the end of her life, apparently as the beginning of a formal autobiography. The rest are sketches she read to members of the Memoir Club, who met regularly to read such essays.
Woolf, Virginia. The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Ed. Anne Olivier Bell. 5
New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977-1984.
PR6045 .O72 Z494 1977
Contents: v. 1. 1915-1919.--v. 2. 1920-1924.--v. 3. 1925-1930.--v. 4. 1931-1935.--v. 5. 1936-1941.
Woolf, Virginia. A Writer's Diary, Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia
Ed. Leonard Woolf. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1954. (UK 1953)
PR6045 .O72 Z5 1954R
These excerpts from Woolf's diary have been very influential.
Created June 30, 1997
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