Good Books about Woolf and her Circle

Scores of books have been published about various aspects of Woolf's life and the lives of other members of the Bloomsbury Group.   This brief list includes very readable books that cover a cross-section of topics.  The books by Quentin Bell and Nigel Nicholson provide insider knowledge about most of the important people in Woolf's circle.  In Mark Hussey's book you could look up everybody mentioned in those books, as well as hordes of others, plus get detailed coverage of the genesis, critical reception, and scholarly views on every Woolf novel.  Jean Moorcroft Wilson's book about Woolf and London is required reading for students taking the trip for class credit.  Like Bell and Nicholson, Wilson is a Woolf insider--she is married to Leonard Woolf's nephew Cecil (son of Leonard's brother Philip Woolf).  Mark Hussey's article on the Woolf family says that Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson continue the publishing tradition Leonard and Virginia Woolf started with the Hogarth Press.  Cecil runs a publishing company called Cecil Woolf Publishers, and he and his wife work together "at the same table on which the first Hogarth press stood" (Hussey 370, cited to MacWeeney np).

Bell, Quentin.  Bloomsbury RecalledNew York: Columbia UP, 1995.  Woolf’s nephew’s memoirs have whole chapters on individuals associated with the Bloomsbury Group, starting with a chapter each on his parents, Clive Bell and Vanessa Stephen Bell (Woolf’s sister).

 Hussey, Mark. Virginia Woolf: A-Z. New York: Oxford UP, 1995.  The best single reference book there is about everything Woolfian.  Now out of print, but widely available used.

Nicholson, Nigel. Portrait of a Marriage New York: Atheneum, 1973.  Biography of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson by their son, including selections from Vita’s private papers that include material about her love affair with Woolf.  Vita was a popular novelist and the inspiration for Woolf's novel Orlando.

*Wilson, Jean Moorcroft.  Virginia Woolf's London: A Guide to Bloomsbury and Beyond.  New York: Tauris Paperbacks, 2000.  Same as Virginia Woolf: Life and London (New York: Norton, 1987).  Only the title and cover are different. 
If you can read only one book about Woolf’s life for this trip, read this one.  It’s a biography with special attention to places Woolf lived.  It includes a chapter of Woolfian walks, including Mrs. Dalloway’s walk from Westminster to Regent’s Park as well as one of Woolf’s favorite walks around the City of London, the oldest part of London, now known mainly as the financial district; but also the location of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and many other famous sites.  We’ll take some of these walks.  The book focuses on London, but includes material on Woolf’s country houses (Monk’s House and Talland House, in St. Ives), and her sister Vanessa’s country house, Charleston—all of which we will visit. 

Return to England in the Footsteps of Virginia Woolf