Chronology of Virginia Woolf's Life

Updated July 7, 1997
Created July 7, 1997

1882 January 25, Adeline Virginia Stephen born at 22 Hyde Park Gate, London, third child and second daughter of Leslie Stephen and Julia (Jackson) Duckworth Stephen. Her sister Vanessa is 2 ½, her brother Thoby is 1 ½, and there are three siblings by her parents’ previous marriages: the Duckworths, George, age, 13, Stella, age 12, and Gerald, age 11; and Laura Stephen, age 11. Her parents will have one more child, Adrian, in October 1883.

In November 1882, Leslie Stephen becomes editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, a position he will hold for the next 9 years, editing the articles of the first 26 volumes (there will be 63 total), writing 378 entries himself (Lee 99).

1895 May 5, Julia Stephen dies, aged 49. Virginia’s first breakdown is that summer.

1897 Stella Duckworth marries Jack Hills April 10, dies of peritonitis July 19, aged 28.

1899 Thoby Stephen enters Trinity College, Cambridge, where he becomes friends with Lytton Strachey, Saxon Sydney-Turner, Clive Bell, and Leonard Woolf (all first-year students).

1904 Feb 22 Sir Leslie Stephen dies of cancer (he had been knighted in 1902). Virginia has her second breakdown that summer, and is ill the rest of the year. Vanessa, Thoby, and Adrian move into 46 Gordon Square (Bloomsbury).

1905 Thoby starts "Thursday Evenings" for his Cambridge friends and others (beginning of "Bloomsbury Group"), and Vanessa organises "Friday Club" for painters. Virginia begins writing book reviews and articles for various journals (30 essays in 1905 alone), including the Anglo-Catholic clerical paper the Guardian, Cornhill Magazine (which her father had edited), and most significantly the Times Literary Supplement (TLS). Woolf’s published works during her lifetime included seven volumes of essays.

1906 Vanessa, Virginia, and Violet Dickinson meet Thoby and Adrian in Greece in September. When they return, Thoby and Vanessa are sick, and Thoby dies of typhoid fever on November 20, aged 26. On November 22 Vanessa agrees to marry Clive Bell.

1907 Feb 7 Vanessa marries Clive Bell; they continue to live in 46 Gordon Square, and in April Virginia and Adrian move into 29 Fitzroy Square (not a successful move).

1911 Virginia moves into shared housing at 38 Brunswick Square, with Adrian, Duncan Grant, Maynard Keynes, and Leonard Woolf (all members of Bloomsbury group).

1912 Leonard proposes to Virginia in January, she is ill in February and March, accepts his proposal May 29, and they marry August 10; she is 30, he is 31.

Virginia has a major breakdown in the summer, attempts suicide in September, and is not fully restored to health until 1915.

1914 War declared (WWI)

1915 Virginia and Leonard move to Hogarth House, Richmond (near London) and decide to buy a printing press. The Voyage Out is published in March by Gerald Duckworth’s publishing house.

1916 Vanessa and her household move to Charleston, Firle (in Sussex).

1917 April The printing press is delivered to Hogarth House. Their first publication is Two Stories: "A Mark on the Wall" [by VW] and "Three Jews" [by LW]. Later that year Virginia begins the diary she will keep the rest of her life.

1918 Nov 11 Armistice Day (end of WWI).

1919 September Virginia and Leonard move to Monk’s House, Rodmell (in Sussex). Night and Day is published in October by the Hogarth Press, which will publish all of her subsequent books (16 total, plus The Voyage Out).

1922 Jacob’s Room published. Virginia meets Vita Sackville-West in December.

1924 March Virginia and Leonard move to 52 Tavistock Square.
"Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown" published.  Mrs. Dalloway in progress.  Friendship with Vita Sackville-West becomes more important.  From 1924 till Woolf's death, the Hogarth Press publishes all of Sackville-West's fiction.

1925 The Common Reader published in April, Mrs. Dalloway in May. Virginia collapses at Charleston in August and is unwell for four months.   In December, Woolf spends three nights at Vita's home Long Barn, and Vita wrote her husband Harold Nicolson: "I have gone to bed with her."  (This is Woolf's only documented sexual relationship with a woman.)  Woolf begins writing To the Lighthouse. 

1926  Writing To the Lighthouse.  Vita gives the Woolfs a dog (Pinker), later the model for Flush.

1927 To the Lighthouse completed in January, published in May.

1928 Orlando published in October. Virginia, accompanied by Vita, delivers the two lectures at Cambridge women’s colleges that will become A Room of One’s Own. Vita begins an affair with Mary Campbell; the relationship with Virginia cools,

1929 "Women and Fiction" published in a journal in March, then much revised as A Room of One’s Own, published in October.

1931 The Waves published in October.

1932 Jan 21 Lytton Strachey dies

1933 Flush published in October.

1934 Sept 9 Roger Fry dies.

1936 Virginia finishes The Years and collapses in April, is unwell until May and again from June to October.

1937 The Years published in March. Julian Bell (Vanessa’s older son) leaves in June to drive an ambulance in the Spanish Civil War; dies on July 18, aged 29.

1938 Three Guineas is published in June.

1939 Britain declares war on Germany. Virginia and Leonard move to their Sussex home (Rodmell) permanently (Vanessa moves permanently to Charleston).

1940 Roger Fry published in July. Blitz of London begins in July: in September, Vanessa’s studio in Fitzroy St. is destroyed by a bomb, and Virginia and Leonard’s apartment in Mecklenburgh Square is severely damaged.

1941 Virginia finishes Between the Acts, becomes ill in March with anxiety and depression. Drowns herself in the River Ouse on 28 March. Her body is found three weeks later and cremated 21 April.

1961 7 April Vanessa Bell dies at Charleston.

1969 Leonard Woolf dies

1996 Quentin Bell dies

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