The early decades of the 20th century saw the rise of the “experimental” novel, and few writers had more success with their experiments than Virginia Woolf. Her innovative approach as a novelist, critic, and biographer made her an author who is even more widely read today than she was in her own time.
Virginia Woolf is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Born in 1882, she was the daughter of the editor and critic Leslie Stephen, and suffered a traumatic adolescence after the deaths of her mother, in 1895, and her stepsister Stella, in 1897, leaving her subject to breakdowns for the rest of her life. Her father died in 1904 and two years later her favorite brother Thoby died suddenly of typhoid. With her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, she was drawn into the company of writers and artists such as Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, later known as the Bloomsbury Group. Among them she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912, and together they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, which was to publish the work of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield as well as the earliest translations of Freud. Woolf lived an energetic life among friends and family, reviewing and writing, and dividing her time between London and the Sussex Downs. In 1941, fearing another attack of mental illness, she drowned herself.
Her first novel, The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic, A Room of One's Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938). Her major novels include Mrs. Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of The Waves (1931), the family saga of The Years (1937), and Between the Acts (1941).
Night and Day - Full Version (Annotated)by Virginia Woolf
Set in Edwardian London, Night and Day contrasts the
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A long neglected masterpiece, Night and Day reveals Virginia Woolf’s mastery of the traditional English novel. With its classic comic structure, minutely observed characters, and delicate irony, Woolf’s second novel has invited comparison to the works of Shakespeare, Mozart, and Jane Austen.
Set in Edwardian London, Night and Day contrasts the lives of two friends, Katherine Hilbery and Mary Datchet. Katherine is the bored, frustrated granddaughter of an eminent English poet. She lives at her parents’ home and is engaged to a prig who exemplifies the stultifying life from which she wishes to be free, until she meets a possible avenue of escape in the person of Ralph Denham. Mary Datchet, on the other hand, represents an alternative to marriage—she has been to college, lives on her own, and finds fulfillment in working for the women’s rights movement.
As the story dances delightfully among the novel’s brilliantly drawn characters, serious questions about the nature of romance arise. Is love real or illusory? Can love and marriage coexist? Is love necessary for happiness?
Night and Day - Virginia Woolf
Meet the Author
- Date of Birth:
- January 25, 1882
- Date of Death:
- March 28, 1941
- Place of Birth:
- Place of Death:
- Sussex, England
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