Honors English 2nd hour
November 29, 2010
“When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much do they?” Virginia Woolf was born in London, on January 25, 1882. Her full birth name is Adeline Virginia Stephen. Her father, Sir Leslie Stephen, was a notable historian, author, critic, and mountaineer. She was educated by her father and mother. She had a large immediate family. As a young girl, she was sexually abused by her two older step brothers. After the loss of her mother, father, and brother in a short period of time, she went into a manic depression mode. Her first professional writings began in 1905. She met her husband in London and married him in 1912. The marriage had a profound impact on her life. The mental illness of manic depression took her life at the age of 59. She died on March 28, 1941.
Adeline Virginia Stephen is the daughter of Leslie Stephen and Julia Prinsep Stephen. Virginia was born in London on January 25, 1882. She was educated by her father. Her father Leslie Stephen was a notable author, historian, critic, and mountaineer. Therefor she was raised in an environment influenced with Victorian Literacy Society. Virginia developed an early liking for English Literature. Each of her parents had been widowed. Consequently, the household contained children from three marriages. Her mother had three children form her first marriage. Her father had a daughter. She was declared mentally disabled and had lived with the family until she was institutionalize in 1891. The two of them had four children together. Most of Virginia’s most vivid childhood memories did not occur in London, but in St. Ives, in Cornwall. The family spent every summer there until 1895. Memories of the family holidays and the impression of the landscape had a great influence on her writings. As a youth she was sexually abused by her step brothers. In A Sketch of The Past she wrote
“I can still remember the feel of his hands going under my clothes; going firmly and steadily lower and lower, I remember how I hoped that he would stop; how I stiffened and wriggled as his hands approached my private parts. But he did not stop.”
The sexual abuse she encountered for years may have caused the manic depression to be more serious. When Virginia was 13 her mother passed away in 1895. As a young girl this could be very difficult to deal with. Her half-sister Stella died two years later in 1897. This caused her first nervous breakdown. The sudden death of her father in, 1904 was caused by stomach cancer. This was a slow death. This provoked her most alarming attack and she was briefly institutionalized. Her breakdowns and her subsequent reoccurring depression periods may have also been influenced by the sexual abuse her and her sister Vanessa had experienced. Virginia started her first professional writings in 1905. Virginia’s brother Thorby died in 1906. She lost her mental stability and suffered many mental breakdowns during this time. While she was institutionalized, these were called her “rest times”. After the death of her parents and her second break down, Virginia and her siblings sold their house at Hyde Park Gate and purchased a house at Gordon Square in Bloomsbury. Virginia inherited L2, 500 from an aunt. This helped her financial situation. Virginia attended King College in London. This was her first educational institute. King College is where she came in contact with the intellectual group of the literary society. One member was drawn to Virginia. His name was Leonard Woolf. The two of them married in 1912. The marriage had a profound impact on her life. She termed the marriage as “The most beautiful thing in her life.” The house that Virginia bought became the central location of the Bloomsbury group. The Bloomsbury group was made up of writers, artist, economist, and art critics. The Bloomsbury