I have a confession to make. I’ve always loved melancholy writers. I am drawn to them because of my own mental illness and melancholy ways. Such is the case with Virginia Woolf. I was around 11 when I first read Mrs. Dalloway (another book my mother had to sign at the Library for me to read!). I was drawn to those opening words, “Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” I was intrigued as to why she would buy them herself. What were they for? But it wasn’t just the words she wrote, it was how she wrote. Her book was the first introduction I would have to stream of consciousness writing. I was also intrigued by the themes of feminism, mental illness and homosexuality. I was just beginning to realize that I was not an average young woman sexually and already suffering from bouts of depression. I wouldn’t read To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own, and Orlando until much later, during college. By then, I understood my sexual preference (bisexual), was well acquainted with my own mental illness, and was a feminist. Her works took on an even greater role in my life as inspiration while I experimented more with my own writing. Without her influence, I would have struggled with who I was as a woman and would never have discovered the flow and rhythm of stream of consciousness.
Here are some of my favorite quotes by Virginia Woolf:
Here is a reading of the suicide letter that she left for her husband Leonard:
And a biography of her:
Interesting Facts: Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. She wrote Orlando for her lover, Vita Sackville-West. Woolf committed suicide by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59. (source)