> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 15 February 2003
  • ISBN: 9780099443674
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $19.99

The Common Reader: Volume 2




Virginia Woolf's second collection of essays on literature: an informal, informative and witty celebration of our literary and social heritage by a writer of genius.

'He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others'.
So Virginia Woolf described the 'common reader' for whom she wrote her second series of essays. Here she turns her brilliant eye on novels and poetry from John Donne to Christina Rossetti and Mary Wollstonecraft as well as many others. This is an informal, informative and witty celebration of our literary and social heritage by a writer of genius.

  • Pub date: 15 February 2003
  • ISBN: 9780099443674
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Virginia Woolf

Date: 2004-06-24
Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882. After her father's death in 1904 Virginia and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, moved to Bloomsbury and became the centre of ‘The Bloomsbury Group’. This informal collective of artists and writers exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture.

In 1912 Virginia married Leonard Woolf, a writer and social reformer. Three years later, her first novel The Voyage Out was published, followed by Night and Day (1919) and Jacob's Room (1922). Between 1925 and 1931 Virginia Woolf produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, from Mrs Dalloway (1925) to The Waves (1931). She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography. On 28 March 1941, a few months before the publication of her final novel, Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf committed suicide.


Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her step-sister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favourite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid.

With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.

Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938).

Her major novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941). All these are published by Penguin, as are her Diaries, Volumes I-V, and selections from her essays and short stories.

Also by Virginia Woolf

See all

Praise for The Common Reader: Volume 2

“Virginia Woolf was one of the great innovators of that decade of literary Modernism, the 1920s. Novels such as Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse showed how experimental writing could reshape our sense of ordinary life. Taking unremarkable materials - preparations for a genteel party, a day on a bourgeois family holiday - they trace the flow of associations and ideas that we call "consciousness"”

Guardian

“Virginia Woolf stands as the chief figure of modernism in England and must be included with Joyce and Proust in the realisation of experimental achievements that have completely broken with tradition”

New York Times

“Virginia Woolf was a great writer. Her voice is distinctive; her style is her own; her work is an active influence on other writers and a subtle influence on what we have come to expect from modern literature”

Jeanette Winterson


Related titles