|Julia and Virginia|
Adeline Virginia Stephen was born at 22 Hyde Park Gate in Kensington, London on 25 Jan 1882. Her parents were Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Prinsep Jackson. Leslie Stephen was a notable historian, author, critic and mountaineer as well as a founding editor of the Dictionary of National Biography. It would be an influence on Virginia's experimental biographies. Adeline was named after Lady Henry Pattle's sister, Adeline Marie Russell, Duchess of Bedford and her middle name, Virginia, was the name of yet another Pattle sister, as well as Julia's aunt. Virginia's parents had each been married previously and widowed. Theirs was home to children of three marriages: Julia had three children by her first husband, Herbert Duckworth (George, Stella, and Gerald Duckworth); Leslie had one daughter with Harriet Marian (Minny) Thackeray, the daughter of William Thackeray, (Laura Makepeace Stephen, who was declared mentally disabled and lived with the family until she was institutionalized in 1891): and Leslie and Julia had four children together (Vanessa Stephen Bell, Thoby Stephen, Virginia, and Adrian Stephen).
Virginia suffered several losses of loved ones during her younger years, which contributed to the beginning of her suffering of anxiety and depression. Her mother and several siblings all passed away by the time she attended university. She was institutionalized briefly following her father's death in 1904 as it was all too much. Sexual abuse suffered at the hands at two of her half-brothers likely also contributed. Her depression bouts included not eating or sleeping, as well as hallucination.
Despite the darkness that would haunt her the rest of her life, Virginia's personal journals show a playful woman who enjoyed gossip and debauchery with her friends.
Virginia married Leonard Woolf on 10 August 1912 in Pancras, London. They shared a close bond throughout their marriage. They had no children. Virginia wanted children, but due to her mental swings, her husband, sister, and doctors decided she shouldn't. Leonard would monitor her health closely throughout her life to try to help, though she often felt marginalized by his behavior. Even so, she acknowledged that he was a big part of what kept her alive as long as she was.
|Virginia and Leonard|
Virginia Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals which included Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell (Virginia's sister, Vanessa's husband), Virginia's husband Leonard Woolf, and Roger Fry, among others. The group was well-known for their Dreadnought Hoax in 1910. The group had experimental views on art, antiwar stances, and very liberal views on sexuality, which encouraged Virginia in her intimate relationships with other women, most notably Vita Sackville-West.
Leonard and Virginia often collaborated on their art. Together they founded Hogarth Press which published Virginia's work as well as other notable English authors including TS Eliot and Sigmund Freud. Virginia believed in giving women a place to express themselves as artists and was important in the feminism of the era. Both the Woolfs were internationalists and pacifists.
Virginia had begun writing professionally in 1900, but didn't publish her first novel until 1915, with her half brother's publishing house. She was known for her stream of consciousness style. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929). Her works have been translated into 50 languages.
|Virginia's final letter to Leonard|
On 28 March 1941, Virginia drowned herself by filling her overcoat pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home. It was her final suicide attempt-she had tried several times throughout her life. Her body was not found until 18 April 1941.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
Categories: Example Profiles of the Week | This Day In History January 25 | This Day In History March 28 | English Authors | LGBT | English Heritage Blue Plaque | Kensington, Middlesex | Authors, England Managed Profiles | England, Notables | Notables