Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision

ISBN: 9781855144811
Artist(s): Virginia Woolf
Author(s): Frances Spalding
Format: paperback
Year published: July 2014
Publisher: National Portrait Gallery
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 192
Illustrations: Illustrated throughout in colour
Height: 21 cm

Author(s) Biographies:


7 available

Published to accompany the  exhibition Virginia Woolf: Art Life and Vision at the National Portrait Gallery from 10th July to 26th October 2014.

This revealing, highly illustrated biography of Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) by a leading authority on the Bloomsbury Group accompanies a major exhibition of portraits of the world-renowned British novelist, essayist, biographer and critic and her circle at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Virginia Woolf’s many novels, notably Night and Day (1919), Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and The Waves (1931), transformed ideas about structure, plot and characterisation. The third child of Leslie and Julia Stephen, and sister of Vanessa (later Bell), Woolf was a central figure in the Bloomsbury Group: that union of friends who revolutionised British culture with their innovative approach to art, design and society in the early years of the twentieth century.

Portraiture figured greatly in Woolf’s life. Portraits by G.F. Watts and photographs made by her aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron, furnished rooms in which she lived. Written portraits were produced in the family home; her father, Leslie Stephen, published short biographies of Samuel Johnson, Pope, Swift, George Eliot and Thomas Hobbes, while editing the first twenty-six volumes of the Dictionary of National Biography. Throughout her life, Woolf, a sharp observer and a brilliant wordsmith, composed memorable vignettes-in-words of people she knew or encountered, and was herself portrayed by artists and photographers on many occasions.

This beautifully illustrated book, like the exhibition it accompanies, catches Woolf’s appearance and that of the world around her, but it also points to her pursuit of the hidden, the fleeting and obscure, in her desire to understand better the place and moment in time and in history in which she lived. In charting the emotional milestones in Woolf’s life – her love affairs, wartime experiences and the depression that resulted in her suicide in 1941 – author Frances Spalding acknowledges the seen and unseen aspects of her subject; the outer and the inner, the recognisable and the concealed.


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