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Virginia Woolf (Penguin Lives)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  468 ratings  ·  32 reviews
This biography of Virginia Woolf is unusual. It is written by someone who knew her well when he was a child. Although short, it gives the key moments, the key traits and the key ideas that have made her life so continuously fascinating to new generations. At the same time it provides a firm record of her literary achievement.
Hardcover, 165 pages
Published September 14th 2000 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (first published January 1st 2000)
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I should have just read Hermione Lee's biography. Nicolson is a son of Vita Sackville-West, as he never tires of telling us, and milks his moments with Woolf, and his mother's connection, for all they're worth. He spends far more time on Vita than Woolf's husband Leonard or sister Vanessa, which I felt a rather poor choice.

Nicolson provides a good deal of information about her inner life--his time spent editing her letters was well spent. But he clearly disagrees with Woolf's opinions, and spen
Rachel Terry
Particularly enjoyed Woolf's opinions about Americans.
This is well written, an easy read, and informative. It's not as scholarly, footnoted, or even-handed as I would have liked. It seems like Nicolson has some axes to grind in his portrait of Woolf.
This was pretty interesting, but I really don't like this writer. Any time he mentioned VW's feminist writings, he was really dismissive. Incidentally, he is Vita Sackville-West's son, and actually knew Virginia Woolf, so he has a lot of anecdotes to tell from the point of view of an adolescent.
Remarkable woman.
Nicolson's account has got me interested in the Bloomsbury group.
Also, it's about time I finally dust off my copy of Orlando.
Polly Summers
I quite liked this had a deeper insight into Virginia Woolf's life as the author, Nigel, knew her through his mother Vita. However I would have enjoyed it even more if there was more mention of her family. While there was plenty on Vita, Virginia's close friend (and sometimes lover) I wanted to know more about Virginia's husband Leonard, and her siblings Vanessa and Adrian. That would have made this book even better and I feel like I could understand Virginia if I knew more about her c ...more
Iiris Onerva
Kind of lifeless and occasionally clumsy.

Nicolson seems most concerned with "correcting" or "proving wrong" opinions that he doesn't agree with - whether VW's and other Bloomsburians or other biographers and scholars. He criticizes the subjective interpretations of other biographers or scholars but never acknowledges his own subjectivity. Meanwhile, doesn't seem to grasp that opinions are indeed subjective (and not, as mentioned, something to be corrected). Also doesn't seem to understand the co
Amanda McDougle
Nigel Nicolson's first hand experience of knowing Virginia Woolf provides an in-depth account on the life of this daughter, sister, wife, lover, and writer. For Woolf, writing is the equivalent of raising a child. From creation, she molds stories based on the people who are active in her life at the time. Each writing is hand-written in the mornings and then typed up and edited by Woolf in the afternoons. The evening hours are spent hand-writing journal entries and letters to friends, family mem ...more
Stephanie Marie
I come to all Woolf biographies with a non-judgmental approach; I know there will always be some angle or bias that fires some readers up-- but I'm such a whore for all things Woolf, I'll eagerly read any take on her life and works and consume it with a grain of salt. This might not be the most objective view of her life; obviously Nicholson had a unique take on Woolf as Vita Sackville-West's son. But I loved the intimate stories about Virginia. I loved the quotes and pictures. I appreciated ano ...more
A excellent biography of an amazingly complex author. Although I will complain, that the author made it known in the beginning that he was actually acquainted with the author herself. Then goes on to write(the majority of the time) as if he is just another biographer that has done their research well. I had hoped for more of a personal reflection on the author but was disappointed in this regard. But for a biography of only a few hundred pages(191 small pages) wasn't bad. It was amazingly s ...more
Kurze leichte Biographie über Woolf vom Sohn Vita Sackville-West’s, die zeitweise Woolfs Geliebte war. Beschrieben werden Familie und Bloomsbury-Kreis, der Entstehungsprozess mancher Werke, insbesondere Orlando. Dabei ist das Bild, das Nicolson zeichnet nicht immer positiv, wenn auch verständnisvoll: Virginia hatte Vorurteile gegen Ausländer und Juden, ihre feministisch-pazifistischen Ansichten entbehren manchmal jeder Grundlage und für Politik hat sie sich nie interessiert. Dennoch ein Buch, da ...more
Fascinating. I found myself alternately in love with Woolf, and viciously annoyed with her. What a truly remarkable woman. This being my introduction to Woolf as a person, (and I have as yet read none of her works), I don't know if there were any mistakes or controversial claims or the like. All I know is that I finished this short biography feeling as though I understood, if only slightly, an enormously complex and bewitching human being with whom I felt, whilst reading, woefully aligned.
A pretty goood Penguin Lives literary biography from someone who knows as much as there is to know about Virginia Woolf. Fortunately, he doesn't cram it all in this book, as the series is intended to be introductions-summaries-overviews, not the last word on a life. Nicolson's book made me interested enough to want to read some of Virginia Woolf's work, though I haven't followed through yet (too much great non-fiction out there to read, tomodachis!).
Very interesting perspective on V. Woolf by someone who knew her from childhood. Nicolson is the son of Vita Sackville-West, Virginia's longtime friend and sometime lover. The author has made use of personal memory, extensive letters between V.W. and V.S-W. and many others, as well as other biographies of V.W. , especially that written by her brother-in-law, Clive Bell (Vanessa's husband). Terrific portrait.
you couldn't get more personal than this slim volume written by the son of virginia's one time lover, vita sackville-west. none of the usual feminist cant on this one; significantly debunks the subject's supposed molestation by her half brother. even in vignettes, it gives a good impressionist picture of the tangled lives of the bloomsbury group
An easy riff through Woolf's life: sexual affairs take a back seat to her inner struggles, literary output and travels abroad. I don't think, after reading this, Woolf would have much use for a guy like me, but she'd definitely put up with a visitor, and then stick me in one of her books for revenge.
Virginia Woolf is a fascinating person, and this biography comes from the interesting perspective Nigel Nicolson, who knew Virginia when she was alive and whose mother was one of Virginia's lovers. I found the book to start off slow, but it picked up pace as it went on.
I enjoy these lives books, they're just fulfilling enough to make me want to research more about the subject. In this case, I was quite relieved that the author did not attempt to hide his personal opinions as accepted scholarship or conventional wisdom.
Wandered outside my fiction preference since this was one of the few books available to check out on CD from my library. Glad I listened to it, I might have skimmed it otherwise. I learned much more about the many happinesses in Woolf's life.
Aihe, eli Virginia Woolf, oli todella mielenkiintoinen ja traaginen. Ikävä kyllä kirjailija ei ollut kummoinen joten teksti oli sekavaa ja analyysit ontuvia. Teki tehtävänsä eli haluan lukea rouvan kirjoja lähitulevaisuudessa.
This is an interesting book that looks the personal life of one of the world's greatest authors. It explores her life, her loves both men and women, and the darkness of her battles with mental disease. A very good book.
Dianne Lange
Fine as an overview and documentation of the Bloomsbury crowd but not particularly good at capturing V.W. I'm putting H. Lee's bio on my to-read list. Most reviewers say it's the better bio.
Written by the son of Vita Sackville-West, this slender volume doesn't really give any new information about the author, but would be a good introduction for someone unfamiliar.
Interesting but fairly brief biography of Virginia Woolf, by Vita Sackfield-West's son.
Ruth Glen
I was interested in knowing more,after reading Orlando. Nigel Nicolson had meet her as a boy and had memories of her.
GOt from Mom's big book giveaway. Interesting. I have never read The Waveor the Years and think I should.
Fascinating character. Good short overall look into her life. p.s. She hated Americans
A good starting point and introduction to the life of the great lady!
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