Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Leonard Woolf: A Biography” as Want to Read:
Leonard Woolf: A Biography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Leonard Woolf: A Biography

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  143 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Award-winning biographer Victoria Glendinning draws on her deep knowledge of the twentieth century literary scene, and on her meticulous research into previously untapped sources, to write the first full biography of the extraordinary man who was the "dark star" at the center of the Bloomsbury set, and the definitive portrait of the Woolf marriage. A man of extremes, Leona ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published November 14th 2006 by Free Press (first published September 4th 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Leonard Woolf, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Leonard Woolf

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 363)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 07, 2014 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
After reading three biographies of Virginia Woolf, I decided it was time to read about her husband, Leonard Woolf. In the scholarship on Virginia, Leonard is a figure which divides people into a group that thinks he was good to his wife and a group which holds the opinion that he limited her creative powers. After reading Glendinning's biography, I'll go with the form, if only for the argument that without Leonard Virginia might have well died before she had published even one novel.

The great t
James Murphy
Jul 30, 2010 James Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because I've also read Victoria Glendinning's excellent biography of Vita Sackville-West, and now her life of Leonard Woolf, I think she knows these people well. Leonard was a person who certainly deserved the attention this book provides. Despite his own considerable achievements as writer and publisher, he's obviously important as the first critic and care-giver and "nurturer" (Glendinning's word) of Virginia Woolf. He played a very large role in making it possible for her to have the health a ...more
Stephanie Patterson
When I was a young graduate student in English, Leonard Woolf was a feminist punching bag-the oppressive middle-class husband of the brilliant, ethereal Virginia Woolf. No one seemed to consider that living with someone mentally ill before the age of anti-psychotic and mood stabilizing medication could have been somewhat of a struggle or that a little stolidness might provide Mrs. Woolf with the stable environement she needed in order to write.
Over the years Leonard has begun to get his due It w
Cindy Brown Ash
Sep 01, 2011 Cindy Brown Ash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2011
I'm such a nerd. The man died before I was born, but when I got to the account of Leonard's death, I cried.

OK, I'm a nerd, but the book is also that good. Glendinning writes vividly, accounting for Woolf's contradictions, his mannerisms, his friendships, his relations with all the many sorts of people whose lives he touched. She makes it clear that although he was a central part of Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury was not necessarily the center of his life. She provides a beautiful and moving account of
Nov 26, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How to make it through a time of great social and political change while a) being of a marginalized race, b) being the stabilizing influence for a very creative and bright but very unstable wife, c) influencing 20th century social and political thinking, d) starting an important press and e) living 89 productive years. Among many other things there would have been no Virginia Woolf had there been no Leonard Wolf. Well written, typically name ridden (it is a biography)—it's an empathetic look int ...more
Jan 14, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bloomsbury
I had been reading various sections of this whilst working on some writing, but as that comes to a close I thought I'd finish the book as a whole. I'm glad that i did because even as the Bloomsbury chapters of his life came to a close his life got no less interesting. The book is detailed but accessibly written. I spotted a couple of minor errors (paraphrasing sentences from his letters incorrectly in my opinion) in the earlier sections that I had to read closely. But this should not put you off ...more
An interesting read, but Glendinning is too much of an apologist for Woolf.
As usual, I'm very happy with this biography, because Victoria Glendinning always produces wonderful biographies. Of course, my favorite chapters are those that recount his meeting Virginia Stephen, courting her, marrying her, and tell us about their life together as companions, writers, and friends. Because of Virginia's mental illness she was forbidden to have children, which makes me feel so badly for her. Having a baby might have saved her from the depression and the suicide that she ultimat ...more
Aug 18, 2008 Ilze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is it about elm trees – the good-tempered tree?
Elms tolerate a great deal and this could be why cabinet-makers had an interest in them, but the Woolfs? … Glendinning has written a unique and beautiful biography of a man she clearly has a lot of respect for. Enough respect that we don’t only get to see what Leonard Woolf did in his life, in a curriculum vitae kind of way, but there are descriptions of the way people treated him and his wife (and later his “mistress”). The book contains descr
Apr 09, 2012 Kllrchrd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ravishing dustjacket ..... and a good read!

Some of the writing is a bit choppy, a bit ... 'bitty'. But the man himself comes across well, tho i don't know how he suffered some of the (to me) intensely dull semi-political activities he got engaged in, he seemed selfless and capable of such extreme hard work.

Its interesting to read of the Webbs and other characters..... oops I don't want to give too much away.

From reading this Monks House which was his later residence shall always seem a warm a
Steve Shilstone
Jun 07, 2014 Steve Shilstone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The noted British publisher, author, engaged thinker, tenderly kept his mentally fragile genius of a wife alive for 30 years of marriage.
Feb 05, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well-written and engrossing biography that makes me want to delve deeper into Leonard Woolf's writings. While interested in reading about Leonard Woolf's life with Virginia Woolf, the chapters discussing his life following his wife's suicide held greater fascination for me. I realised, while reading, that I had not given much consideration to what Leonard Woolf's life must have been like in his later years. Victoria Glendinning paints a captivating picture of Leonard and includes many interest ...more
Patrick Barrett
Aug 20, 2015 Patrick Barrett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LW himself is a fascinating character, for the breadth and seriousness of his interests and his own writing as much as for his marriage to V and his recognition of her genius. What makes this biography so wonderful is that that extraordinary life receives a treatment from Victoria Glendinning that is its equal for sympathetic understanding of diversity and historical and political context. It's an utter delight to read and is the kind of treasure that can be kept going slowly alongside other boo ...more
Dec 10, 2014 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very interesting, fleshing out his life and story.
Nov 13, 2013 Stefan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant biography. A penetrating account of the various aspects of this fascinating individual's life. Interesting insights into Bloomsbury and the world of the British intelligentsia in the first half of the 20-th C.
Rob & Liz
Sep 24, 2008 Rob & Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that took me a while to read because of the details involved. An amazing man who certainly deserved his own biography apart from his perhaps more famous wife.

Aug 07, 2007 Martha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read so many bios of V Woolf, it's good to read about how those events in Leonard's life related to VW and also to learn more about him.
Jun 30, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
after my Bloomsbury class am very intrigued (she's a very good biographer)
Lelia marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2016
Garry rated it really liked it
Feb 07, 2016
Faye Slep
Faye Slep marked it as to-read
Jan 30, 2016
Kyle marked it as to-read
Jan 25, 2016
Alicia Austen
Alicia Austen rated it really liked it
Jan 16, 2016
Chrissy marked it as to-read
Jan 14, 2016
Kinga marked it as to-read
Jan 10, 2016
Nina marked it as to-read
Jan 09, 2016
Stephen Crowe
Stephen Crowe is currently reading it
Jan 06, 2016
Barry Murphy
Barry Murphy marked it as to-read
Jan 05, 2016
Norrie rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life
  • Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury
  • The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume Three: 1925-1930
  • Deceived With Kindness
  • Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life
  • The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf
  • A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster
  • Victor Hugo: A Biography
  • Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris
  • Journal of Katherine Mansfield
  • Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Virginia Woolf: A Biography
  • The Blue Hour: A Life of Jean Rhys
  • John Keats: A New Life
British biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist. She is President of English PEN, a winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, was awarded a CBE in 1998 and is Vice-president of the Royal Society of Literature.

Glendinning read modern languages at Oxford and and worked as a teacher and social worker before becoming an editorial assistant for the Times Literary Supplement in 1974.

She has m
More about Victoria Glendinning...

Share This Book