Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an essayist, literary critic and, above all, a novelist, for which she was best known. She was a central figure in the literary and artistic community known as the Bloomsbury Group, a close-knit group that featured several English artists and writers of the early years of the twentieth century.
What distinguishes Virginia Woolf’s novels is her development of innovative ways in which the limitation of prose can be tested. Her story-telling departed from the conventions which had made fiction stylistically fixed in late Victorian and Edwardian fiction. She abandoned the straightforward narration and used something more like stream-of-conscious prose to focus on the inner lives of her characters.
The 1970s feminist criticism movement focused on her work and gave her credit for inspiring feminism. Her novels have been translated into more than fifty languages. Her life and career have fascinated the literary establishment for a century and have been the subject of plays, films and novels.
Virginia Woolf’s best-known works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928). She is also known for her essays. Here are some notes about her top three novels:
Mrs Dalloway (1925), set in post First World War London, details a day in the life of an .upper class woman, Clarissa Dalloway, The novel depicts her preparations for a party she will be hosting in the evening. The story is told mainly through the thoughts of the protagonist, which are always evident, even when she is interacting with other characters. The story goes forward and back in time and in and out of the character’s mind to construct an image of Clarissa’s life and of the inter-war social structure. In October 2005, Mrs Dalloway was included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels written since Time’s first edition in 1923.
To the Lighthouse (1927) centres on the Ramsay family’s visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920. In this novel philosophical introspection is more important than the plot. There is very little dialogue and less direct action. Most of the prose consists of the characters’ thoughts and observations. The style has been cited as a prime example of the literary technique of ‘multiple focalization’ – the novel evokes childhood emotions and focuses on adult relationships in that light. It has multiple themes, including the nature of art, the problem of perception and the pain of loss.
In 1998 the Modern Library named the novel number fifteen on its list of the 100 best English language novels of the twentieth century. In 2005 it was included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels written since Time’s 1923.
Orlando: A Biography 1928.
Orlando is a satirical novel inspired by Virginia Woolf’s friend, the poet and novelist, Vita Sackville-West. It is a romp through the history of English literature. It depicts the adventures of a poet who changes gender from male to female and lives for several centuries, during which she meets an assortment of literary figures. The novel is considered a feminist classic and is studied particularly by scholars of gender and transgender studies. It has been adapted for the stage and screen, and been the subject of two significant operas.
Here is a list of Virginia Woolf’s works:
The Voyage Out (1915)
Night and Day (1919)
Jacob’s Room (1922)
Mrs Dalloway (1925)
To the Lighthouse (1927)
The Waves (1931)
The Years (1937)
Between the Acts (1941)
Short Fiction Collections
Two Stories (1917)
Monday or Tuesday (1921)
A Haunted House and Other Stories (1944)
Mrs Dalloway’s Party (1973)
The Complete Shorter Fiction (1985)
Modern Fiction (1919)
The Common Reader (1925)
The London Scene (1931)
The Common Reader: Second Series (1932)
The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (1942)
The Moment and Other Essays (1947)
The Captain’s Death Bed and Other Essays (1950)
Granite and Rainbow (1958
Collected Essays (1967
Books and Portraits (1978
Women and Writing (1979)
Quotes from Virginia Woolf Books
For if it is rash to walk into a lion’s den unarmed, rash to navigate the Atlantic in a rowing boat, rash to stand on one foot on top of St. Paul’s, it is still more rash to go home alone with a poet.The Waves
She did in her own heart infinitely prefer boobies to clever men who wrote dissertations.To the Lighthouse
Our hands touch, our bodies burst into fire. The chair, the cup, the table-nothing remains unlit. All quivers, all kindles, all burns clear.The Waves
To whom can I expose the urgency of my own passion?The Waves
She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone.To the Lighthouse
Come, pain, feed on me. Bury your fangs in my flesh. Tear me asunder. I sob, I sob.The Waves
Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death, others through sheer inability to cross the street.The Waves
There was only the sound of the sea.To the Lighthouse
I have had my visionTo the Lighthouse
Stepping through fields of flowers and taking to her breast buds that had broken and lambs that had fallen; with the stars in her eyes and the wind in her hair— He took her bag.To the Lighthouse
These selves of which we are built up, one on top of another, as plates are piled on a waiter’s hand, have attachments elsewhere, sympathies, little constitutions and rights of their own, call them what you will (and for many of these things there is no name) so that one will only come if it is raining, another in a room with green curtains, another when Mrs Jones is not there, another if you can promise it a glass of wine —and so on; for everybody can multiply from his own experience the different terms which his different selves have made with him—and some are too wildly ridiculous to be mentioned in print at all.Orlando
And that’s all Viginia Woolf books in order, organised by their category. Did you have any idea Virginia Woolf wrote quite so many books?