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Virginia Woolf (Penguin Lives)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  422 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Virginia Woolf's life as part of the avant-garde Bloomsbury Group has captured the imagination of millions. Now Nigel Nicolson, the distinguished son of British writers Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West -- one of Woolf's closest friends and sometime lover -- threads his personal reminiscences through the narrative of her life. In so doing, he paints an astonishing po ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 2nd 2000 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2000)
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Wealhtheow
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
...more
David
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.
Emily
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.
luscious
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 book...it 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
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
Marie
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 B.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.
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
Chelsie
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)...it wasn't bad. It was amazingly s ...more
Steffi
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
Jesse
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.
Patrick
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!).
Vivencio
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
Gregg
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.
Natalie
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.
Mosker
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.
Paddy
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.
Sini
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.
Ann
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.
Melissa
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.
Sophie
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.
Carol
Nov 15, 2012 Carol rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
GOt from Mom's big book giveaway. Interesting. I have never read The Waveor the Years and think I should.
Ashley
Fascinating character. Good short overall look into her life. p.s. She hated Americans
Katie
A good starting point and introduction to the life of the great lady!
Jossalyn
because just read the waves
MicheleinNJ
Adds to the picture of Woolf.
Katianna
Katianna is currently reading it
Jan 22, 2015
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  • Virginia Woolf: A Biography
  • The Diary, Vol. 3: 1925-1930
  • Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life
  • Leonard Woolf: A Biography
  • Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury
  • Marcel Proust
  • The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf
  • Journal of Katherine Mansfield
  • Charles Dickens
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company
  • Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life
  • Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921
  • Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell

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