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Virginia Woolf

Alexandra Harris


An accessible introduction to a writer whose work is of timeless significance and whose unconventional life is a continuous source of fascination

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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 a determined young woman with a notebook became one of the greatest writers of all time. It is a story that sparkles with wit and friendship, language and love, wicked jokes and passionate appreciation of ordinary things. Hers was a life lived with intensity from moment to moment, courageous and defiant of convention, and shaped into the lasting patterns of art.

Considering each of Woolf’s novels in context, this gripping account shows why, eighty years after her death, Virginia Woolf continues to haunt and inspire us.

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'Harris's [book] is a pencil sketch in clear brisk lines. As an introduction to Woolf, Harris's study will do very well: she writes beautifully, with an eye for lucid detail '
Sunday Times

'The critical evaluations of Woolf's novels are elegant and searching; the analysis of Orlando is especially acute ... an ideal introduction '
Financial Times

'Harris tells the story crisply and with personality'

'Harris presents a Woolf for the early 21st century'
The Spectator

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 192 pp

Illustrations: 46

Publication date: 1 February 2024

ISBN: 9780500297834

About the Author

Alexandra Harris is a literary critic and cultural historian.
She worked for ten years at the University of Liverpool, and is now Professor of English at the University of Birmingham. She is the author of Romantic Moderns (2010), Weatherland (2015), both published by Thames & Hudson, and The Rising Down: Lives in a Sussex Landscape (2024), as well as many essays on art and literature.