Virginia Woolf and 'Mrs. Dalloway'

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf, née Adeline Virginia Stephen (1882-1941), is widely considered one of the finest and most influential authors of the 1900s, noted especially for her novels Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), as well as her participation in the intellectual community that came to be known as the Bloomsbury Group.

Her parents were eminent (and eminently) Victorian figures whose blended family wintered in London and summered in Cornwall. Woolf, who suffered from episodes of bipolar disorder during much of her life, married the author, publisher, and colonial administrator Leonard Woolf in 1912. Their union was marked by affairs on both sides, and in Virginia’s case, with both sexes, along with several hospitalizations and suicide attempts.

Nevertheless, Woolf’s mastery of the stream-of-consciousness writing style that focused on her characters’ inner lives was extraordinary. She believed that the novel was “an emotion which you feel” rather than a form in which you write, and the themes she explored included how we experience time, the challenges in defining character, and how recalled circumstances affect daily life.