May 1, 2011

Things you might not know about Virginia Woolf

Posted in Susan's Blog tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:32 am by Susan

1. ‘Virginia’ was Woolf’s middle name: her full name was Adeline Virginia Woolf (née Stephen).

2. Woolf was born in 1882, the same year as James Joyce; she died in 1941, the same year as James Joyce. They never met.

3. Woolf’s father, Leslie Stephen, was the son-in-law (through his first marriage) of the famous Victorian novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.

4. Woolf’s mother, Julia Stephen (née Jackson, quondam Duckworth), was the niece of the pioneering Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.

5. As a child, Woolf, along with her sister Vanessa, and their brothers Thoby and Adrian, was a keen butterfly and moth collector; she also went birdwatching with her brother Thoby.

6. One of Woolf’s childhood nicknames was ‘the Goat’.

7. With her brother Adrian and a group of his friends, Woolf dressed up as Abyssinian royalty and was given a red-carpet tour of H.M.S. Dreadnought – the biggest and newest of the Navy’s warships.

8. Woolf studied Greek, History and German at Kings College London and Latin with classical scholars Clara Pater and Janet Case.

9. Woolf began reviewing for The Times Literary Supplement in 1905, when she was only twenty-three; her first novel was not published until 1915.

10. Woolf’s eighth novel, Flush (1933), was a fictional biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel.

11. Woolf’s ninth novel, The Years, was number six in the list of best-selling novels in the United States in 1937, outselling John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which finished the year in eighth place. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind occupied the top spot on the list.

12. Woolf added several new words to the English language, including ‘obfusc’ and ‘scrolloping’.

13. In Bonn in April 1935, travelling by car with her husband Leonard, Woolf inadvertently became embroiled in a motorcade intended for Goering. Given Leonard’s jewishness, this was potentially highly dangerous as the streets were lined with flag-waving Nazi supporters and armed stormtroopers and covered in banners proclaiming ‘The Jew is our enemy.’ Woolf and Leonard escaped unharmed, partly thanks to the fact that they were travelling with their pet marmoset Mitz, who distracted the attention of the crowd.

14. With her husband Leonard, she ran her own printing press, discovering and publishing many important authors of the period including Katherine Mansfield, T.S. Eliot and Maynard Keynes.

15. She had tea with Sigmund Freud. He gave her a narcissus.

16. She published one of the first essays in English on the cinema.

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