Adeline Virginia Woolf one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. Tucked away in the heart of Sussex is Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Monk’s House, now part of the National Trust and a must for anyone intrigued by one of literature’s most acclaimed, yet troubled writers.
Monk’s House is a 17th Century weather-boarded cottage that became Leonard and Virginia’s home from 1919, until her suicide in 1941 and his death in 1969.
The cottage garden contains a wild mix of flowers, vegetables, orchards, lawns and ponds. It also contains a hideaway used by Virginia as her writing room.
Between the First and Second World Wars Virginia was a major figure in London literary society and central to the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals.
Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One’s Own (1929), with its famous dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Virginia suffered from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life, thought to have been the result of what is now termed bipolar disorder, and she committed suicide by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59.
Virginia began writing professionally in 1900, initially for the Times Literary Supplement with a piece about Haworth, home of the Brontë family.
Her first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915 by her half-brother’s imprint, Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd. The novel was originally titled Melymbrosia.
Virginia went on to publish novels and essays as a public intellectual to both critical and popular success. Much of her work was self-published through the Hogarth Press. She is seen as a major twentieth century novelist and one of the foremost modernists.
Virginia Woolf is considered a major innovator in the English language. In her works she experimented with stream-of-consciousness and the underlying psychological as well as emotional motives of characters. Woolf’s reputation declined sharply after World War II, but her importance was re-established with the growth of feminist criticism in the 1970s.
Virginia Woolf bust, close to one of her husband Leonard, in the garden of Monk’s House. Their ashes have been scattered close by.
For more on Monk’s House visit the National Trust’s website.