Virginia Woolf by Alexandra Harris

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An ideal introduction to the life and work of Virginia Woolf by an award-winning author: the story of a life lived with intensity from moment to moment and shaped into the lasting patterns of art.

In 1907, when she was twenty-five and not yet a published novelist, Virginia Stephen had everything still to prove. She felt herself to be at a crossroads: “I shall be miserable, or happy; a wordy sentimental creature, or a writer of such English as shall one day burn the pages.”

Today her prose is still blazing; perhaps it burns brighter than ever. This is the story of how a determined young woman with a notebook became one of the greatest writers of all time. It is a story that sparkles with wit and friendship, language and love, wicked jokes and passionate appreciation of ordinary things.

In this illuminating new account, Alexandra Harris uses vivid flashes of detail to evoke Woolf’s changing backgrounds and preoccupations. We move from the close-packed rhythms of a Victorian childhood to the experiments of Bloomsbury and Woolf’s trial-and-error answers to the pressing question of how to live. We see her tackling challenging forms of writing, trying out different voices, following flights of fancy, and returning to earth. Above all, we see her making conscious decisions about what to do next.

The book considers each of the novels in context, gives due prominence to a range of Woolf’s dazzlingly inventive essays, traces the contentious course of her “afterlife,” and shows why, seventy years after her death, Virginia Woolf continues to haunt and inspire us.

About Alexandra Harris

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Alexandra Harris is Lecturer in English, University of Liverpool, the author of Romantic Moderns and Virginia Woolf, and the co-editor (with Lara Feigel) of Modernism on Sea.
Published October 1, 2011 by Thames & Hudson. 192 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Virginia Woolf

The Wall Street Journal

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Harris also does not see any direct link between Britain's return to war and Woolf's suicide, suggesting instead that the psychological pressures of war simply encouraged an unassuming solipsism: Woolf no longer wanted to be a "burden" on Leonard who, throughout their marriage, had been both a me...

Nov 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Virginia Woolf

Star Tribune

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This biography is informative, insightful and elegantly written. But Harris does not, and perhaps cannot, satisfy her two intended audiences: readers new to Woolf, and those familiar with her work.

Sep 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Virginia Woolf

The Telegraph

Harris notes that British artists had always been .

Oct 04 2010 | Read Full Review of Virginia Woolf

B***h Media

Those looking for a scoop on childhood sexual abuse, homosexual encounters with fellow writer Vita Sackville-West, or biting comments about Katherine Mansfield—the only writer of whom Woolf openly confessed to being jealous—have not come to the right place with Virginia Woolf.

Apr 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Virginia Woolf

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