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About the book
  • Published: 24 August 2017
  • ISBN: 9781448181940
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 736

The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Volume 5

1929 - 1932




The long-awaited fifth volume of the first complete edition of Virginia Woolf's essays.

Fiction was the core of Virginia Woolf's work. But she took her essay writing very seriously, spending a great deal of time on each essay and finding they provided a refreshing diversion from fiction. Her essays informed her fiction, and vice versa; this volume shows her thinking about the possibility of poeticising the novel (The Waves was the result) and in some of these pieces ('Women and Fiction', 'Women and Leisure') she considers the relationship between women, writing and society - the preoccupation that would become such a large part of her legacy.

The Common Reader: Second Series comprises a significant part of this volume - it was first published in 1932 to excellent reviews. ('They are wholly delightful. They are sensitive, acute, picturesque, humorous, and yet severe.' Vita Sackville-West; 'Is there anybody writing anywhere in the world at this moment who could surpass the essay...so beautifully moulded into a form appropriate to its content that what is an authentic critical masterpiece seems as light on the mind as a song?' Rebecca West) This collection shows Woolf's genius as a critic and essayist: as well as displaying her perceptive understanding of writers and their work, it also offers us an important insight into her creative mind.

Continuing the work of former editor Andrew McNeillie, Stuart N. Clarke brings fresh light to Woolf's essays and enriches them with variations. This penultimate volume forms part of an indispensable, unique collection from one of our greatest writers.

  • Pub date: 24 August 2017
  • ISBN: 9781448181940
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 736

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.

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Praise for The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Volume 5

“It is all pure Woolf, so distinctive is her voice - ironic, cool, conversational and playful, shrewd and fantastical by turns”

Alison Light, Literary Review


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