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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  5,677 ratings  ·  649 reviews
This story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush, enchants right from the opening pages. Although Flush has adventures of his own with bullying dogs, horrid maids, and robbers, he also provides the reader with a glimpse into Browning’s life. Introduction by Trekkie Ritchie.
Paperback, 204 pages
Published October 4th 1976 by Mariner Books (first published October 1933)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dolors by: My insatiable hunger for Woolf
Shelves: read-in-2017
I never thought I would be so absorbed with the biography…of a dog!
But what was I thinking? Woolf’s writing works its magic with no exception, of course.
Are you in the mood for the ideal dose of ironic, playful humor?
Do you crave for those intricately woven phrases that sing the English language with exquisite intonation? Or for a literary game of original subtlety?

“Flush” is the described above plus a surrogate biography of the poetess Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and a jocular satire on the s
..the Victorians loved biographies, especially biographies of eminent people such as kings, queens and other distinguished members of society. Flush is the biography of such an eminent Victorian. Or rather Flush is a parody of a biography of an eminent Victorian. We might even say that Flush is a parody of a parody of a biography of an eminent Victorian because Flush is in fact the biography of a dog. But not just any dog, an Eminent Dog, the pure bred Cocker Spaniel belonging to another eminent ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The dog, a mutt, at last gave up trying to tear her master away from his book. This from the man who dismissed and avoided dog stories as a rule. Blink her blue eyes as she might, it was in vain. She could whine, bark, but he would merely tell her to shush. She could claim no superior breeding, the blue eyes were a happy accident, and she had always thought her master above such prejudices, being that he himself had no exceptional heritage, but she was beginning to have her doubts. Never again w ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: woolf
4.5 stars
This, on the surface is an oddity: a biography of a dog, Elizabeth Barrett’s cocker spaniel, Flush. It is a stream of consciousness novella, written straight after The Waves. Inevitably, because of the subject matter it is treated as a less serious work. Woolf certainly worried about it:
“I open this to make one of my self-admonishments previous to publishing a book. Flush will be out on Thursday and I shall be very much depressed, I think, by the kind of praise. They’ll say it’s ‘charmi
This is the biography of a dog, a cocker spaniel named Flush who was owned by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And through the eyes of Flush, and the writing of Virginia Woolf, we get a look at the life of the poetess herself. It's an interesting way to write about someone, but the talented pen of VW is up to the challenge.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Do words say everything? Can words say anything? Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words?"
Virginia Woolf ~~ Flush

Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Dogs are color blind.
classic reverie
In 2018, I found Virginia Woolf's Flush and added it to my to read list but somewhere I thought I read, that Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Flush had died around 14 years old, being superstitious enough, I wanted to not read it for a couple years. I decided early this year, 2019, in reading this during my May-Blondie's birthday dog reads which I started doing annually several years ago. Why was I so concerned about Flush's age at death? At that time our little dog, Blondie was alive and nearing Fl ...more
Flush by Virginia Woolf - Oxford World

Flush is a biography of a dog. To be more precise, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog. I picked this book up knowing nothing about it, as is my habit and was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, I loved the writing. When it comes to Virginia Woolf, it seems, I always do. I bought this particular volume about a decade ago, among her other books, for that very reason.

Second of all, the subject matter got to me. I love dogs and I love poetry. Reading a book about a female Victorian poet from her dog'
This was too tempting to resist. The great stream-of-consciousness novelist pulls off a “biography” of the beloved dog of Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was a nice trifle, though missing some of the emotional engagement that comes from direct knowledge of the animal by the author.

Flush was a cocker Spaniel who grew up in the country, and then was brought to the London household of Barrett. Their first encounter give you some of the flavor of Woolf’s approach to capturing his exper
Ronald Morton
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: by-women
This is one of my wife's favorite books. Prior to having children, when we used to go used book shopping together, she would buy any copy of this she came across to gift to friends. Up until now I'd never read it (in my defense, she's read almost none of my favorite books, and I've read many of hers through the years, and will continue to do so).

Flush is a sweet little book, beautifully written, about Elizabeth Barrett Browning's dog Flush (and, in the margins, it is also about EBB). It manages
Kyriakos Sorokkou


This was the 6th book I read by Virginia Woolf and her easiest, so far. It's a peculiar little book with a cute theme. I don't want to downgrade it by using the word cute but when the protagonist is a dog than there's some cuteness in it.

This is a biography of a dog called Flush. Flush was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved dog. She was a Victorian poet and her husband was a poet as well, Robert Browning. He was the one who wrote the epic poem that inspired Stephen King's The Dark Tower Series
Dannii Elle
This is the semi-fictional biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved Spaniel, Flush. Told partially through his eyes, this details the events of his life, that of his owner's, and gives an insight to the society surrounding them. This story was as adorable as it was heart-breaking and provided a vivid and unique rendering of one small pup's life and the insurmountable amount of love he had to give the world.
My first Virginia Woolf on a dog biography, Wouaf!
Flush is a spaniel living in England in the 19th century. From Miss Mitford to Miss Barret, he finds happiness in the look his mistress has on him, unwelcome lover or baby. And even if his instincts are suddenly reduced to a domesticated space, it doesn't matter to him; he makes it his flash. A doggie what, you will tell me.
The novel surfs on the ambivalence of the gaze focused on the world, is it that of a human or a dog, or a humanized dog? "Ce
After completing the groundbreaking experiment The Waves, Woolf “rested” by working on what she considered a mere trifle—a short novel that would eventually become Flush: A Biography, a version of the courtship of poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning as seen through the eyes of their omnipresent cocker spaniel. Using historical facts as a platform, what emerges is a witty and unusual take on one of the most famous real-life romances of all time, and even if it comes off as rather slight w ...more
“To be nothing - is that not, after all, the most satisfactory state in the whole world?”

Woolf’s genius resurfaces once again with an awe-inspiring biography. If you read and loved Orlando, an amazing jaw-dropping fake-biography, you will absolutely fall for Flush, a spanial trying to attribute meaning to life. The biography of Flush revolves around her owner Miss Mitford, a later Mrs. Browning and how their relationship buckles and bends with a myriad of emotions. We observe human society and r
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
3.50 stars

We can find this very brief synopsis enticingly informative, "This playful, witty biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's pet spaniel - involving Italian travels and kidnappings - asks what it is to be a dog, and a human." (back cover) The dog in question called Flush, a corker/spotted spaniel, is one of the key characters brilliantly narrated by Virginia Woolf with her sense of humor, we simply can't help wondering how she has written so understandingly that few writers, I think, co
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
This is a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's red cocker spaniel named Flish. Woolf does an amazing job of telling the story from Flush's perspective.
This book suprised me quite alot, this was an excellent and powerful story that made you conect with the dog.
Elizabeth Barrett was a Victorian poet with a gorgeous little cocker spaniel called Flush. I was curious about Woolf’s decision to write his biography, and found this gorgeous quote from one of her letters to Lady Ottoline Morrell: ‘I was so tired after the Waves, that I lay in the garden and read the Browning love letters, and the figure of their dog made me laugh so I couldn’t resist making him a Life’.. I mean, that’s as good a reason as any.

Flush is a city dog, raised in the streets of Londo
Raquel Baggins
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Raquel by: Evilreads
3.5 ★★★☆☆
«The fact was that they could not communicate with words, and it was a fact that led undoubtedly to much misunderstanding. Yet did it not lead also to a peculiar intimacy? (…) After all, she may have thought, do words say everything? Can words say anything? Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words?»

Review in English | Reseña en español (abajo)

A short, entertaining and very enjoyable novel in which Virginia Woolf puts us into Flush’s shoes (or rather paws), the
Ha! So you thought this was a book about a dog?

Nope. It's by Virginia Woolf, so it is really clever social satire: a dog's eye view of Victorian mores, the absurdities of class consciousness, the stultifying life of London ladies (and dogs), the joys of running free in Italy, and the delights of sexual liberation. Of course Woolf has great fun writing from the point of view of one who experiences life as a sequence of vast and varied scents and we get some interesting insights into Elizabeth Bar
My first Virginia Woolf novel, read b/c one of my groups chose it as a monthly read. Really easy to read! and enjoyable, as well.

Having had 3 cocker spaniels in the past, I enjoyed it all the more. :)
Jeff Jackson
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-2
This concise biography of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's spaniel is super charming, surprisingly dramatic, and beautifully crafted. For fans of "Orlando," this is wonderful in a similarly fantastical vein. It's mostly known as a trifle today, though for many readers it might serve as an ideal introduction to Virginia Woolf.
Read all my reviews on

I had never read Virginia Woolf before. But I had heard a lot about her, so I was glad to see she was included in the expansion of the series.

Flush is the biography, of a dog, a spaniel. This was rather unexpected, but I took a liking to it right from the start. Flush has indeed quite the life and is certainly fit for a biography. It is also written in a very compelling way. Interesting style, and a surprising story.

~Little Black Clas
I just read a biography of a dog, that’s how much I love Virginia Woolf. (I’m in too deep, help)

This is certainly the most unusual book I read this year - the semi-fictional biography of a dog. Virginia Woolf was reading the love letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and was apparently so amused by their obsession with her dog Flush that she set out to write his biography.
Now, the point of the whole exercise was that up until the early 20th century, biographies were only written of "eminent" personalities, often by their personal friends, and often with a very laissez
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been looking forward to reading Flush for months, and I really wasn’t disappointed. Written in the period after Virginia Woolf had completed writing The Waves; which she had found so draining Flush, is a complete joy. Flush – for those who don’t know – is a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, a cocker spaniel that was her constant companion, both before and after her marriage to Robert Browning. The book is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, through which we meet the two ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
A very sweet little book- Woolf captures the world and EBB's life through Flush's eyes (and thoughts) perfectly.
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"She loved Flush, and Flush was worthy of her love."

2.5 Stars.

I borrowed this book from a very good friend who loves Virginia Woolf in the hope I'll love this one more than Mrs. Dalloway. To be honest that's not that difficult, because I hated Mrs. Dalloway with a fiery passion, but I'll get back to this book. I do have to say I enjoyed this one more, but the same thing I had with the other works I've read by Virginia Woolf it seems so incredibly pointless. It was cute, but whenever
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
The biography of small dog,quirky, but only Virginia Woolf could bring genius to such a simple concept. A brilliant read
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easy read classic...: Flush 4 16 Nov 26, 2012 11:13AM  

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(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length e

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“Twice Flush had done his utmost to kill his enemy; twice he had failed. And why had he failed, he asked himself? Because he loved Miss Barrett. Looking up at her from under his eyebrows as she lay, severe and silent on the sofa, he knew that he must love her for ever. Things are not simple but complex. If he bit Mr. Browning he bit her too. Hatred is not hatred; hatred is also love.” 11 likes
“As for describing the smell of a spaniel mixed with the smell of torches, laurels, incense, banners, wax candles and a garland of rose leaves crushed by a satin heel that has been laid up in camphor, perhaps Shakespeare, had he paused in the middle of writing Antony and Cleopatra — But Shakespeare did not pause. Confessing our inadequacy, then, we can but note that to Flush Italy, in these the fullest, the freest, the happiest years of his life, meant mainly a succession of smells. Love, it must be supposed, was gradually losing its appeal. Smell remained. Now that they were established in Casa Guidi again, all had their avocations. Mr. Browning wrote regularly in one room; Mrs. Browning wrote regularly in another. The baby played in the nursery. But Flush wandered off into the streets of Florence to enjoy the rapture of smell. He threaded his path through main streets and back streets, through squares and alleys, by smell. He nosed his way from smell to smell; the rough, the smooth, the dark, the golden. He went in and out, up and down, where they beat brass, where they bake bread, where the women sit combing their hair, where the bird-cages are piled high on the causeway, where the wine spills itself in dark red stains on the pavement, where leather smells and harness and garlic, where cloth is beaten, where vine leaves tremble, where men sit and drink and spit and dice — he ran in and out, always with his nose to the ground, drinking in the essence; or with his nose in the air vibrating with the aroma. He slept in this hot patch of sun — how sun made the stone reek! he sought that tunnel of shade — how acid shade made the stone smell! He devoured whole bunches of ripe grapes largely because of their purple smell; he chewed and spat out whatever tough relic of goat or macaroni the Italian housewife had thrown from the balcony — goat and macaroni were raucous smells, crimson smells. He followed the swooning sweetness of incense into the violet intricacies of dark cathedrals; and, sniffing, tried to lap the gold on the window- stained tomb. Nor was his sense of touch much less acute. He knew Florence in its marmoreal smoothness and in its gritty and cobbled roughness. Hoary folds of drapery, smooth fingers and feet of stone received the lick of his tongue, the quiver of his shivering snout. Upon the infinitely sensitive pads of his feet he took the clear stamp of proud Latin inscriptions. In short, he knew Florence as no human being has ever known it; as Ruskin never knew it or George Eliot either.” 10 likes
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