It occurs to me some of you might not be familiar with Virginia Woolf. As I suggest with all new subjects, go to Wikipedia and plug her name in for an overview. Once you’ve done that, come back here and read this.
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
All but The Voyage Out and Night and Day are from the Hogarth Press in England. After Night and Day, Woolf’s U.S. publisher is Harcourt Brace. This list includes primarily works published during Woolf’s lifetime. See also the list of biographies and published letters and diaries.
The Voyage Out (26 March 1915, Duckworth; U.S. pub. by Doran, May 1920)
Woolf’s first novel, begun in 1908 and heavily revised after about 1912. Manuscript editions of the earlier version (1909-12) have been compiled and published by Louise DeSalvo as Melymbrosia (1982), Woolf’s working title for the book.
Two Stories (1917)
“The Mark on the Wall” by VW and “a story” by Leonard Woolf. The book was published by subscription only, mainly to friends and acquaintances, and was the Hogarth Press’s first publication.
Kew Gardens (12 May 1919)
Ten pages of text by VW, with illustrations by her sister, Vanessa Bell.
Night and Day (20 Oct 1919, Duckworth; U.S. pub. Doran, 1920)
VW considered this her “traditional” novel, in the manner of the nineteenth-century novelists she admired.
Monday or Tuesday (7 April 1921; U.S. pub. Harcourt Brace, Nov. 1921) – stories
Includes “Kew Gardens,” “The Mark on the Wall,” “An Unwritten Novel” and five previously unpublished sketches.
Jacob’s Room (27 Oct 1922; U.S. pub. Harcourt Brace, 1922)
Her first truly experimental novel and the Hogarth Press’s first large-scale work, Jacob’s Room begins Woolf’s reputation as “difficult” or “highbrow.” Critics compare her to James Joyce and Dorothy Richardson. Jacob is based on Woolf’s older brother Thoby Stephen, who died of a fever in 1906, when he was in his mid-twenties.
Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown (1923)
A response to Arnold Bennett’s criticism that she “can’t create or didn’t in Jacob’s Room, characters that survive” (Woolf paraphrasing Bennett, Writer’s Diary). First version was published in the U.S. and then in England. A later, better-known, version was written as a lecture to the Cambridge Heretics on 18 May 1924, then published in the Criterion under the title “Character in Fiction,” and then published by Hogarth Press as Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown. Critically, “the essay became a key document, not only in the assessment of Virginia Woolf’s work, but in relation to twentieth-century fiction generally” (Critical Heritage 17).
The Common Reader (First Series, 23 Apr 1925)
The Common Reader was Woolf’s title for two series of critical essays she published (the second series was published in 1932), mostly focused on her responses to reading and literature. It includes biographical sketches of many writers and such now-famous essays as “On Not Knowing Greek” and “How it Strikes a Contemporary.”
Mrs. Dalloway (14 May 1925; simultaneously in England and U.S.; first time for simultaneous publication in U.S. and England)
A novel that takes place entirely in the space of one day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, with a parallel plot about a shell-shocked World War I veteran, Septimus Smith. The setting is London.
To the Lighthouse (5 May 1927)
Woolf’s most famous and most autobiographical novel. The novel takes place chiefly at a family summer house based on Woolf’s own family’s house in Cornwall (though the novel is set in the Hebrides), during two visits, seven years apart, with events in between described abstractly in a middle section called “Time Passes.” The “Time Passes” section had been published in French in Dec. 1926.
See also the original holograph draft / transcribed and edited by Susan Dick
(Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1982).
Orlando (2 Oct 1928)
Her most successful novel up to then, in terms of sales (even though publishing it as a “biography” confused booksellers), Orlando traces the life of an English nobleman, Orlando, from the Renaissance to the very moment of publication. Orlando, based on Woolf’s friend Vita Sackville-West, lives 400 years and changes into a woman in the 18th century.
A Room of One’s Own (24 Oct 1929)
Woolf’s first major feminist criticism, originating in two lectures given in October 1928 to students at the two women’s colleges of Cambridge University (Newnham and Girton, here fictionalized as “Fernham”). First published as a short essay on “Women and Fiction” in Forum (March 1929), it was thereafter heavily revised to the present six chapters.
See also a study of extant manuscripts edited by S.P. Rosenbaum, Virginia Woolf/Women & Fiction: The Manuscript Versions of A Room of One’s Own (Oxford : Blackwell, 1992).
The Waves (October 1931)
This novel is generally considered Woolf’s masterpiece, though it is also her most experimental (some say most difficult) work.
NOTE: The first book-length criticism of VW appeared in 1932, Winifrid Holtby’s biography and Floris Delattre’s Le Roman psychologique de Virginia Woolf. Delattre writes on VW’s use of time (quality vs. quantity).
The Common Reader (Second Series, 1932)
This collection includes both new and revised critical essays, including biographical sketches of Mary Wollstonecraft and Dorothy Wordsworth, and the now-famous essay “How Should One Read a Book?”
Flush (5 Oct 1933)
A comic novel written from the point of view of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel Flush.
The Years (13 March 1937]
A bestseller, popular with critics and readers, this novel traces the life of a Victorian family, the Pargiters, from 1880 to the “Present Day.” Begun as a sequel to A Room of One’s Own, Woolf originally intended to alternate nonfiction essays with the Pargiter’s story (which illustrates the essays). Woolf ultimately extracted the nonfiction and changed the working title from “The Pargiters” to The Years. Mitchell A. Leaska has edited the extracted portions and published them as The Pargiters: The Novel-Essay Portion of The Years (1977), which also includes the earlier version of the 1880 section of the novel.
Three Guineas (4 June 1938)
These feminist essays function as a sequel to A Room of One’s Own, including a critique of patriarchy (illustrated with photographs of public figures) and an argument for pacifism in the face of the growing threat of another world war. The illustrations are not printed in modern editions.
Roger Fry (25 July 1940)
A biography of Woolf’s friend, the art critic and painter (1866-1934), who had introduced post-impressionism (Picasso, Cezanne) to England in the years before World War I.
Between the Acts (17 July 1941)
Woolf’s last novel, published after her death. She had changed her mind about publishing it just days before her death (see letter to John Lehmann). Like Mrs. Dalloway, the action takes place in a short span of time in June and is focused on a social event, here a community pageant rather than a party. The setting is June 1939 in the English countryside at a house called Pointz Hall (the working title of the book), home of the Olivers, and in the nearby village, where Miss LaTrobe is in charge of the pageant. The pageant concerns English history, and parts of it are part of the narrative.
A Writer’s Diary (UK 1953)
Moments of Being (US 1976, ed. Jeanne Schulkind)
Timeline and Chronological List of Works from: https://www.uah.edu/woolf/