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Virginia WOOLF
(1882-1941)


Virginia Woolf was an English writer and essayist. We have most of her works at this site and they consistently rank as some of the most popular ebooks accessed. At the bottom of this page you will find a few snippets of her writing.

The article on Woolf at Wikipedia states that she "is considered one of the greatest innovators in the English language. In her works she experimented with stream-of-consciousness, the underlying psychological as well as emotional motives of characters, and the various possibilities of fractured narrative and chronology. In the words of E. M. Forster, she pushed the English language 'a little further against the dark,' and her literary achievements and creativity are influential even today."

Contents of Virginia Woolf's Short Story and Essay Collections

ESSAYSSHORT STORIES
  
THE COMMON READER (1925)Read Now

The Common Reader
The Pastors and Chaucer
On not knowing Greek
The Elizabethan Lumber Room
Notes on an Elizabethan Play
Montaigne
The Duchess of Newcastle
Rambling round Evelyn
Defoe
Addison
Lives of the Obscure--Taylors and Edgeworths
Lives of the Obscure--Laetitia Pilkington
Jane Austin
Modern Fiction
Jayne Eyre' and 'Wuthering Heights'
George Eliot
The Russian Point of View
Outlines--Miss Mitford
Outlines--Bentley
Outlines--Lady Dorothy Nevill
Outlines--Archbishop Thomson
The Patron and the Crocus
The Modern Essay
Joseph Conrad
How it strikes a Contemporary

THE COMMON READER: SECOND SERIES (1932) Read Now

The Strange Elizabethans
Donne After Three Centuries
"The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia"
"Robinson Crusoe"
Dorothy Osborne's "Letters"
Swift's "Journal of Stella"
The "Sentimental Journey"
Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son
Two Parsons: James Woodforde; John Skinner
Dr. Burney's Evening Party
Jack Mytton
De Quincey's Autobiography
Four Figures: Cowper and Lady Austen; Beau    Brummell; Mary Wollstonecraft; Dorothy Wordsworth
William Hazlitt
Geraldine and Jane
"Aurora Leigh"
The Niece of an Earl
George Gissing
The Novels of George Meredith
"I am Christina Rossetti"
The Novels of Thomas Hardy
How Should One Read a Book?

THE DEATH OF THE MOTH AND OTHER ESSAYS (1942)

The Death Of The Moth
Evening Over Sussex: Reflections in a Motor Car
Three Pictures
Old Mrs. Grey
Street Haunting: A London Adventure
"Twelfth Night" at the Old Vic
Madame de Sévigné
The Humane Art
Two Antiquaries: Walpole and Cole
The Rev. William Cole: A Letter
The Historian and "The Gibbon"
Reflections at Sheffield Place
The Man at the Gate
Sara Coleridge
"Not One Of Us"
Henry James
1. Within the Rim
2. The Old Order
3. The Letters of Henry James
George Moore
The Novels of E. M. Forster
Middlebrow
The Art of Biography
Craftsmanship
A Letter to a Young Poet
Why?
Professions for Women
Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid

THE CAPTAIN'S DEATH BED AND OTHER ESSAYS (1950)

Editorial Note
Oliver Goldsmith
White's Selborne
Life Itself
Crabbe
Selina Trimmer
The Captain's Death Bed
Ruskin
The Novels Of Turgenev
Half Of Thomas Hardy
Leslie Stephen
Mr. Conrad: A Conversation
The Cosmos
Walter Raleigh
Mr. Bennett And Mrs. Brown
All About Books
Reviewing
Modern Letters
Reading
The Cinema
Walter Sickert
Flying Over London
The Sun And The Fish
Gas
Thunder At Wembley
Memories Of A Working Women's Guild

MONDAY OR TUESDAY (1919)Read Now

A Haunted House
A Society
Monday or Tuesday
An Unwritten Novel
The String Quartet
Blue & Green
Kew Gardens
The Mark on the Wall

A HAUNTED HOUSE (1944)

A Haunted House
Monday or Tuesday
An Unwritten Novel
The String Quartet
Kew Gardens
The Mark on the Wall
The New Dress
The Shooting Party
Lappin and Lappinova
Solid Objects
The Lady in the Looking-Glass
The Duchess and the Jeweller
Moments of Being. "Slater's Pins have no Points"
The Man who Loved his Kind
The Searchlight
The Legacy
Together and Apart
A Summing Up

THE COMPLETE SHORTER FICTION (1985)

Phyllis and Rosamond
The Mysterious Case of Miss V.
The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn
Memoirs of a Novelist
The Mark on the Wall
Kew Gardens
The Evening Party
Solid Objects
Sympathy
An Unwritten Novel
A Haunted House
A Society
Monday or Tuesday
The String Quartet
Blue & Green
A Woman's College from Outside
In the Orchard
Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street
Nurse Lugton's Curtain
The Widow and the Parrot: A True Story
The New Dress
Happiness
Ancestors
The Introduction
Together and Apart
The Man who Loved his Kind
A Simple Melody
A Summing Up
Moments of Being. "Slater's Pins have no Points"
The Lady in the Looking-Glass
The Fascination of the Pool
Three Pictures
Scenes from the Life of a British Naval Officer
Miss Pryme
Ode Written Partly in Prose
Portraits
Uncle Vanya
The Duchess and the Jeweller
The Shooting Party
Lappin and Lappinova
The Searchlight
Gypsy, the Mongrel
The Legacy
The Symbol
The Watering Place






 

Extracts from Virginia Woolf's writing

Thus, glancing round the bookshop, we make other such sudden capricious friendships with the unknown and the vanished whose only record is, for example, this little book of poems, so fairly printed, so finely engraved, too, with a portrait of the author. For he was a poet and drowned untimely, and his verse, mild as it is and formal and sententious, sends forth still a frail fluty sound like that of a piano organ played in some back street resignedly by an old Italian organ-grinder in a corduroy jacket. There are travellers, too, row upon row of them, still testifying, indomitable spinsters that they were, to the discomforts that they endured and the sunsets they admired in Greece when Queen Victoria was a girl. A tour in Cornwall with a visit to the tin mines was thought worthy of voluminous record. People went slowly up the Rhine and did portraits of each other in Indian ink, sitting reading on deck beside a coil of rope; they measured the pyramids; were lost to civilization for years; converted negroes in pestilential swamps. This packing up and going off, exploring deserts and catching fevers, settling in India for a lifetime, penetrating even to China and then returning to lead a parochial life at Edmonton, tumbles and tosses upon the dusty floor like an uneasy sea, so restless the English are, with the waves at their very door. The waters of travel and adventure seem to break upon little islands of serious effort and lifelong industry stood in jagged column upon the floor. In these piles of puce-bound volumes with gilt monograms on the back, thoughtful clergymen expound the gospels; scholars are to be heard with their hammers and their chisels chipping clear the ancient texts of Euripides and Aeschylus. Thinking, annotating, expounding goes on at a prodigious rate all around us and over everything, like a punctual, everlasting tide, washes the ancient sea of fiction. Innumerable volumes tell how Arthur loved Laura and they were separated and they were unhappy and then they met and they were happy ever after, as was the way when Victoria ruled these islands.

From "Street Haunting: A London Adventure"


At the thought of all those women working year after year and finding it hard to get two thousand pounds together, and as much as they could do to get thirty thousand pounds, we burst out in scorn at the reprehensible poverty of our sex. What had our mothers been doing then that they had no wealth to leave us? Powdering their noses? Looking in at shop windows? Flaunting in the sun at Monte Carlo? There were some photographs on the mantelpiece. Mary's mother--if that was her picture--may have been a wastrel in her spare time (she had thirteen children by a minister of the church), but if so her gay and dissipated life had left too few traces of its pleasures on her face. She was a homely body; an old lady in a plaid shawl which was fastened by a large cameo; and she sat in a basket-chair, encouraging a spaniel to look at the camera, with the amused, yet strained expression of one who is sure that the dog will move directly the bulb is pressed. Now if she had gone into business; had become a manufacturer of artificial silk or a magnate on the Stock Exchange; if she had left two or three hundred thousand pounds to Fernham, we could have been sitting at our ease to-night and the subject of our talk might have been archaeology, botany, anthropology, physics, the nature of the atom, mathematics, astronomy, relativity, geography. If only Mrs Seton and her mother and her mother before her had learnt the great art of making money and had left their money, like their fathers and their grandfathers before them, to found fellowships and lectureships and prizes and scholarships appropriated to the use of their own sex, we might have dined very tolerably up here alone off a bird and a bottle of wine; we might have looked forward without undue confidence to a pleasant and honourable lifetime spent in the shelter of one of the liberally endowed professions. We might have been exploring or writing; mooning about the venerable places of the earth; sitting contemplative on the steps of the Parthenon, or. going at ten to an office and coming home comfortably at half-past four to write a little poetry. Only, if Mrs Seton and her like had gone into business at the age of fifteen, there would have been--that was the snag in the argument--no Mary. What, I asked, did Mary think of t hat? There between the curtains was the October night, calm and lovely, with a star or two caught in the yellowing trees. Was she ready to resign her share of it and her memories (for they had been a happy family, though a large one) of games and quarrels up in Scotland, which she is never tired of praising for the fineness of its air and the quality of its cakes, in order that Fernham might have been endowed with fifty thousand pounds or so by a stroke of the pen? For, to endow a college would necessitate the suppression of families altogether. Making a fortune and bearing thirteen children--no human being could stand it. Consider the facts, we said. First there are nine months before the baby is born. Then the baby is born. Then there are three or four months spent in feeding the baby. After the baby is fed there are certainly five years spent in playing with the baby. You cannot, it seems, let children run about the streets. People who have seen them running wild in Russia say that the sight is not a pleasant one. People say, too, that human nature takes its shape in the years between one and five. If Mrs Seton, I said, had been making money, what sort of memories would you have had of games and quarrels? What would you have known of Scotland, and its fine air and cakes and all the rest of it? But it is useless to ask these questions, because you would never have come into existence at all. Moreover, it is equally useless to ask what might have happened if Mrs Seton and her mother and her mother before her had amassed great wealth and laid it under the foundations of college and library, because, in the first place, to earn money was impossible for them, and in the second, had it been possible, the law denied them the right to possess what money they earned. It is only for the last forty-eight years that Mrs Seton has had a penny of her own. For all the centuries before that it would have been her husband's property--a thought which, perhaps, may have had its share in keeping Mrs Seton and her mothers off the Stock Exchange. Every penny I earn, they may have said, will be taken from me and disposed of according to my husband's wisdom--perhaps to found a scholarship or to endow a fellowship in Balliol or Kings, so that to earn money, even if I could earn money, is not a matter that interests me very greatly. I had better leave it to my husband.

From "A Room of One's Own"


But these contributions to the dangerous and fascinating subject of the psychology of the other sex--it is one, I hope, that you will investigate when you have five hundred a year of your own--were interrupted by the necessity of paying the bill. It came to five shillings and ninepence. I gave the waiter a ten-shilling note and he went to bring me change. There was another ten-shilling note in my purse; I noticed it, because it is a fact that still takes my breath away the power of my purse to breed ten-shilling notes automatically. I open it and there they are. Society gives me chicken and coffee, bed and lodging, in return for a certain number of pieces of paper which were left me by an aunt, for no other reason than that I share her name.

From "A Room of One's Own"


Updated 23 July 2007

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