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Who was Virginia Woolf ?

Adeline Virginia Woolf (/wʊlf/;[1] née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer. She is considered one of the foremost modernists of the 20th-century and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device. Born in an affluent household in Kensington, London, she attended the Ladies Department of Kings College and was acquainted with the early reformers of womens higher education. Having been home-schooled for the most part of her childhood, mostly in English classics and Victorian literature, Woolf began writing professionally in 1900. During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. She published her first novel titled The Voyage Out in 1915, through the Hogarth Press, a publishing house that she established with her husband, Leonard Woolf. Her best-known works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of Ones Own (1929), with its dictum, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Woolf became one of the central subjects of the 1970s movement of feminist criticism, and her works have since garnered much attention and widespread commentary for "inspiring feminism", an aspect of her writing that was unheralded earlier. Her works are widely read all over the world and have been translated into more than fifty languages. She suffered from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life and took her own life by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59. Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen at 22 Hyde Park Gate in Kensington, London.[4] Her parents were Julia Prinsep Duckworth Stephen and Sir Leslie Stephen (1832–1904).[4] Julia Stephen was born in British India to Dr John and Maria Pattle Jackson. Julia was the niece of the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and first cousin of the temperance leader Lady Henry Somerset. Julia moved to England with her mother, where she modelled for Pre-Raphaelite painters such as Edward Burne-Jones.[5] Julia named her daughter after the Pattle family: Adeline after Lady Henrys sister, Adeline Marie Russell, Duchess of Bedford; and Virginia, the name of yet another sister of Lady Henrys (who died young), but also of their mother, Julias aunt. Woolf was educated by her parents in their literate and well-connected household. Her parents had each been married previously and been widowed, and, consequently, the household contained the children of three marriages. Julia had three children from her first marriage to Herbert Duckworth: George, Stella, and Gerald Duckworth. Leslie had previously been married to Harriet Marian (Minny) Thackeray (1840–1875), the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, and they had one daughter: Laura Makepeace Stephen, who was diagnosed as being developementally disabled and lived with the family until she was institutionalised in 1891.[7] Julia and Leslie had four children together: Vanessa Stephen (later known as Vanessa Bell) (1879), Thoby Stephen (1880), Virginia (1882), and Adrian Stephen (1883). Photographic portrait of Woolfs mother, Julia Stephen, taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, Julias aunt Sir Leslie Stephens eminence as an editor, critic, and biographer, and his connection to William Thackeray, meant that his children were raised in an environment filled with the influences of Victorian literary society. Henry James, George Henry Lewes, and Virginias honorary godfather, James Russell Lowell, were among the visitors to the house. Julia Stephen was equally well connected. Her aunt was a pioneering early photographer Julia Margaret Cameron who was also a visitor to the Stephen household. Supplementing these influences was the large library at the Stephens house, from which Virginia and Vanessa were taught the classics and English literature. As was common at that time, their brothers Adrian and Julian (Thoby) were formally educated and attended the University of Cambridge, a disparity that Virginia noted and condemned in her writing. The sisters did, however, benefit indirectly from their brothers University contacts, as they brought their new intellectual friends home to the Stephens drawing room.[8] Although Virginia would not attend university, she was tutored in Greek by two women, Clara Pater and Janet Case), whose instruction would influence her later work, especially her 1925 essay "On Not Knowing Greek." According to Woolfs memoirs, her most vivid childhood memories were not of London but of St Ives, Cornwall, where the family spent every summer until 1895. The Stephens summer home, Talland House, looked out over Porthminster Bay, and is still standing, though somewhat altered. Memories of these family holidays and impressions of the landscape, especially the Godrevy Lighthouse, informed the fiction Woolf wrote in later years, most notably To the Lighthouse. She describes why she felt so connected to Talland House in a diary entry dated 22 March 1921. "Why am I so incredibly and incurably romantic about Cornwall? One’s past, I suppose; I see children running in the garden … The sound of the sea at night … almost forty years of life, all built on that, permeated by that: so much I could never explain." The sudden death of her mother in 1895, when Virginia was 13, and that of her half-sister Stella two years later, led to the first of Virginias several nervous breakdowns. After her mother and half-sister, she quickly lost her surrogate mother, Stella Duckworth, as well as her cherished brother Thoby, when he was in his mid-20s.[11] She was, however, able to take courses of study, some at degree level, in Ancient Greek, Latin, German and history at the Ladies Department of Kings College London between 1897 and 1901. This brought her into contact with some of the early reformers of womens higher education such as the principal of the Ladies Department, Lilian Faithfull (one of the so-called Steamboat ladies), Clara Pater and George Warr.[12] Her sister Vanessa also studied Latin, Italian, art and architecture at Kings Ladies Department. In 2013 Woolf was honoured by her alma mater with the opening of a building named after her on Kingsway. The death of her father in 1904 provoked her most alarming collapse and she was briefly institutionalised.[7] She spent time recovering at her friend Violet Dickinsons house, and at her aunt Carolines house in Cambridge.[14] Modern scholars, including her nephew and biographer, Quentin Bell, have suggested[15] her breakdowns and subsequent recurring depressive periods were also influenced by the sexual abuse to which she and her sister Vanessa were subjected by their half-brothers George and Gerald Duckworth (which Woolf recalls in her autobiographical essays A Sketch of the Past and 22 Hyde Park Gate). Throughout her life, Woolf suffered by periodic mood swings and associated illnesses. She spent three short periods in 1910, 1912 and 1913 at Burley House, 15 Cambridge Park, Twickenham, described as "a private nursing home for women with nervous disorder".[16] Though this instability often affected her social life, her literary productivity continued with few breaks throughout her life.

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