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Virginia Woolf

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  339 ratings  ·  59 reviews
In 1907, when she was twenty-five and not yet a published novelist, Virginia Stephen had everything still to prove. She felt herself to be at a crossroads: “I shall be miserable, or happy; a wordy sentimental creature, or a writer of such English as shall one day burn the pages.”

Today her prose is still blazing; perhaps it burns brighter than ever. This is the story of how
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Thames Hudson
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  339 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, uk, reviewed, 2015
Heel boeiend en soepel geschreven boek over leven en vooral werk van Virginia Woolf. Hoewel sommige episodes en werken eerder beknopt aan bod komen en de lezer die al meer over haar las misschien wat op zijn honger laten - de biografie is bedoeld als introductie- is het een hele krachttoer van Harris om dit rijke en intense leven in amper 200 pagina's verteld te krijgen en tegelijk een genuanceerd beeld van Woolf te schetsen. Het boek nodigt in ieder geval uit om nog meer van en over Woolf (en B ...more
Petra Miocic
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Ne možeš pronaći mir izbjegavajući život, poznata je i čeysto citirana misao Virginije Woolf, Autorica koju su suvremenici zamišljali „manje kao ženu koja piše, a više kao svjetlost koja se širi i jača“ još je za života idealizirana kao malo tko od njenih suvremenika, a interes publike, kako one čitateljske za njen književni rad, tako i one gladne zanimljivih, biografskih činjenica s protokom vremena nimalo ne blijedi. Svojim je prijateljima i kolegama uli
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Not really a biography, but a biographical study. This book is beautifully written, but so short that it can't really go into any detail about any aspect of Woolf's life, and she remains a distant presence throughout. There are good mini-essays about many of her works, and the last chapter, about her literary legacy, is particularly interesting.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alexandra Harris' Virginia Woolf gaat vooral over de schrijvende persoon, pretendeert nooit een volledige biografie te zijn. ik heb redelijk veel over Woolf gelezen, inclusief Hermione Lee's fantastische biografie: dit is geen overbodig werk.

een bijzonder boek, Harris weet de kern van Woolfs werk (inderdaad, schrijversleven) te raken. inspirerend, goed geschreven: het is mooie literaire non-fictie.

Willy Schuyesmans
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biografie, eigendom
Ik heb van Woolf alleen maar 'Mrs. Dalloway' gelezen en de film 'The hours' gezien. Verder zinderde nog ergens de titel van Albee's toneelstuk 'Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf' in mijn onderbewustzijn. Ik wist dus wel iets af van haar leven en haar reputatie, maar dit boek heeft mij nu het kader gegeven waarin ik een en ander moet plaatsen. Het is misschien niet de definitieve biografie van Woolf (naar het schijnt heeft Hermione Lee die al geschreven) maar het is een goede inleiding om het ontsta ...more
Vivek Tejuja
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember being all of 13 and attempting to read Mrs. Dalloway. It didn’t make any sense to me back then. Nothing whatsoever. In fact, I also remember dumping it and not picking up any Woolf till I turned 21. That’s when life truly made sense. Virginia Woolf’s writing has captivated me like no other author, not even Murakami for that matter.

Having said that, I wish I had read this book before reading her works, as it provides so much insight and fodder into who she was as a person and how that
Sep 24, 2011 rated it liked it
This turned out to be a better biography of Woolf than I'd thought when I first started reading it. I would recommend it for the reader who is just beginning to discover Virginia Woolf and knows little, if anything, about her family background, the Bloomsbury group, or her novels and books of criticism.

Harris also provides brief analyses of Woolf's novels, which often explain a bit too much about the novels and might influence the new reader's thoughts and reactions to them. I'm not sure that th
Mar 17, 2018 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was holding off reading about Virginia Woolf's life until I read more of her books, but I couldn't resist picking this up when I saw it in the library (whilst searching for other books). I'm glad I did. Harris says at the beginning that this book is meant as "a first port of call for those new to Woolf and as an enticement to read more." I can't agree more -- I feel like I have a better understanding of her books, which I am now more hungry to read.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and succinct guide to Virginia Woolf and her life and work. Ideal for undergraduates and for those just beginning their study of Woolf.
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved, non-fiction
What an intriguing book on such a complex and vibrant woman. Virginia is such a rich character to write about and Harris has allowed us a glimpse into the life of this groundbreaking woman. Virginia gave herself to her writing. It is what allowed her to get through her times of illness, which were frequent and which eventually took her life. She was a prolific writer, writing essays, reviews, novels and non- fiction. Her marriage to Leonard Woolf was the stabilising force in her life even with ...more
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: early-retirement
A wonderful introduction to Woolf's life and works - even this long time Woolf scholar learned some new things. Alexandra Harris again marries a staggering amount of research with a light touch and thoughtful commentary. This is a very enjoyable read for Woolf newbies and long-time fans alike. Next time : the Hermione Lee biography!

There isn't a lot to say about this one. It's a concise overview of Woolf's life and work, best for those who are only mildly curious and just looking for the basics, or someone looking for an introduction before moving on to meatier stuff. Not badly written and has some occasional insight into Woolf's work, but not a definitive source by any means.
Rudy Oldeschulte
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Evokes a great deal of fresh perspective on Virginia Woolf - and her writings, her thought, particularly on Orlando. Though one might think there is little room for yet another biography, this one does the job masterfully - I have gone back and read a few VW works with fresh eyes - following my read of Harris' book.
Debbie Morrison
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book about Virginia Woolf—not in-depth, but an excellent overview of Woolf’s best works, along with a collection of photographs that includes original artwork for some of Woolf’s book covers designed by her artist sister Vanessa Bell (which are terrific). It also includes photographs of Woolf with various family members, several of relatives and friends, and select images of Vanessa’s paintings. The latter I enjoyed immensely. Though I knew Virginia’s sister was an artist I wasn’t fam ...more
J. Walker
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In 200 pages, Alexandra Harris spoke more sense with more clarity about the person Virginia Wipoolf was than volumes of Quentin Bell's evasions.
This is not a full-length biography by any means more of a full-length analysis that works beautifully, with its own moments of beauty.
If you already love Virginia, as a writer, as a woman, or as an icon, this is one pleasurable journey.
And I cannot say enough about the 46 illustrations. Matched with the heavy-duty paper, the images reproduced
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent overview of Woolf's life. Easy to read, covering all the major points, with astute observations. Great for someone who is intimidated by the (HUGE) daunting biographies of Woolf. It definitely made me curious to read more of her work, and perhaps try to tackle Hermione Lee's biography of her sometime soon.
Jeff Howells
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short biography of Virginia Woolf designed as a jumping off point for those who want to learn more about her. I have to say it succeeds admirably. I’ve read a couple of her novels plus a few books about her & I knew a bit about her life already from reading about the Bloomsbury group. This book though has convinced me to dig deeper into her life & her other writings...
Trish Halligan
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A small but perfectly formed biography of Virginia Woolf. Refreshingly, Alexandra Harris chose to make this book about Woolf's life and thoughts, rather than her mental illness and death. Not every author gets the biographer they deserve; Woolf has this in Harris.
Brief book that touches on many interesting aspects of VW’s life but only briefy. Would have preferred reading a about shorter span of her life with more depth.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modernism, biography
An excellent, short, sensitive biography - a good prelude
Peri Martin
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in a single sitting - quite literally couldn’t put it down!! :)
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable short biog, providing context for her novels and exploring how her reputation has changed and how she has been served by commentators through the years.
Martin Smith
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice concisely written overview of Woolf’s life and work. Highly educational and often moving.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first biography - this book explores family, anxieties and talents of Virginia Woolf.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly beautifully written and a great insight to help uncover Virginia Woolf as an individual. Shame it’s so short, it almost feels a little rushed at times.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Virginia Woolf has a habit of changing shape to stay alive.”

“There will be no finished picture of Virginia Woolf.”
Nadja Bauer
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well written biography espeally introducing her work.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
No, it can't compare to Hermione Lee's pretty much definitive biography, as Harris herself (a student of Lee's I gather) readily admits. But I think I prefer it. Certainly, Harris is a better, more lively stylist than Lee. And it's pretty astonishing how much material Harris gets into so few pages. (She liberally and usefully includes visual material, too.) I'm impressed with the cogency of Harris's readings of the novels; she relates textual and biographical material without ever making the con ...more
Sep 24, 2016 rated it liked it

Not having read any of Woolf's works yet, I picked up this biography of her to familiarise myself with the Writer before I embark on what now seems even more of a challenge to read her books. In the process of reading this biography, I listened to an audio book of A Room of One's Own. The ideas and arguments presented there appealed to me and, complemented by her biography, helped me understand her a little better, but also confirmed my suspicion that her work is likely going to be difficult to
Dickon Edwards
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Short, sharp introduction to Woolf's life and work, with lots of photos. Despite this, Ms Harris writes with a sophisticated enough style to suit both academics and general readers. She also does what the more expansive 90s biog by Hermione Lee can't - updates the legacy of Woolf to suggest that the Hollywood film The Hours unfairly simplifies Woolf as mentally ill, self-absorbed and intense. All of which was true from time to time, but is rather unfair to her other, less filmic characteristics: ...more
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