2019 The Year of the Woolf

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Virginia Woolf that is.

I was thinking about my 2019 reading challenge when I saw a Facebook post advertising a Cambridge Summer School called Virginia Woolf’s Gardens. It seemed rather too good to be true – which it was once I made the mistake of looking at the price but, money aside, I can do my own version, can’t I? I can combine reading, gardens, history, art and architecture in a year long ramble through the writings of one of our most iconic female writers.

Sir Leslie Stephen (1876)

I have always had a soft spot for Virginia. We’re connected (tenuously) through her father, Leslie Stephen, who was a student (BA, 1854, MA, 1857) a clerical Fellow (1854 – 1868), and finally an Honorary Fellow (from 1891) at my own college, Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Being a Historian I’m at risk of going off on a tangent here so I’ll stop before I fall down a rabbit hole and leave instead a link to the College’s Tudor Old Library where they hold a copy of Stephen’s manuscript for his Life of Henry Fawcett (1883-1884).

So back to Adeline Virginia Woolf , who was born to Stephen and his wife, Julia, on 25 January 1882.

Julia Prinsep Woolf (formerly Duckworth, neé Jackson).

Woolf’s first novel was The Voyage Out, published by her half-brother’s publishing house, Gerald Duckworth and Son, in 1915. Started in 1908 it had been heavily revised after 1912.

An interesting article by the Londonist, which can be found here, maps the locations and places which occur in ten of Woolf’s novels. I checked the list for The Voyage Out and found it contains a total of 80 locations ranging from Brixton to Buenos Aires. A veritable world tour.

I’ll report on my progress in the next post but, in the meantime, here are a few Woolfian links and a chronological list of works can be found here.

The Virginia Woolf Society 


Monk’s House



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