An Inventory of Her Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Born early in 1882 to Sir Leslie and Julia Stephen, Adeline Virginia Stephen (Woolf), was the third of four children (Vanessa, Thoby, and Adrian). Though she received little formal education, her father, a writer and editor with strong interests in literary history, encouraged her to read extensively and gave her general advice on writing. Her father's connections to the literary world brought Virginia into contact with many well-known writers, including James Russell Lowell (Virginia's godfather), George Meredith, and Anne Thackeray Ritchie.
The death of her mother in 1895, when Virginia was thirteen, led to the first in a life long series of bouts of "madness" or depression, which plagued Woolf and which she treated with rest, milk, and long walks. The death of her step-sister in 1897 and then her father in 1904, though tragic, gave Virginia and her siblings the impetus and opportunity to move from the family home in respectable Hyde Park Gate to a new home in the less respectable neighborhood of Bloomsbury. It was here that the Bloomsbury group, formed at the Stephen's Thursday evenings "at-home,"got its start. Groups of Thoby's friends from Cambridge visited to participate in wide-ranging discussions about politics, economics, and art. In 1906, Thoby died and Vanessa married Clive Bell, leaving Virginia and her younger brother Adrian to set up house together at a new Bloomsbury address.
The next few years were difficult for Virginia. Distressed by the loss of Thoby and the symbolic loss of Vanessa, but also invigorated by the relative independence of her new situation, she began writing her first novel. Also during this period, Lytton Strachey, a friend of her late brother, pointed out Leonard Woolf, another friend and original member of the Bloomsbury group, as a potential match for Virginia. Leonard Woolf, a writer in his own right, encouraged Virginia, a fact much in his favor when he proposed marriage in 1912.
In 1917, the Woolfs purchased a small hand press and set it up on their dining-room table with the idea of printing some of their own work and that of a few friends. From this small beginning grew Hogarth Press, giving Virginia Woolf the advantage of being able to publish everything she wrote, without concern for conventions or conservative editors. Woolf published all of her books through Hogarth Press, including Jacob's Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Orlando: A Biography (1928), and A Room of Ones' Own (1929). The exceptions were Woolf's first two novels, The Voyage Out (1915) and Night and Day (1919), published by her half-brother's publishing company, Duckworth Press. Most of her works were picked up by Harcourt, Brace and published in America within a year of English publication.
In 1919, the Woolfs moved to Monk's House in Rodmell, maintaining a flat in Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury for the work week. Through the twenties and thirties Woolf continued to write, not just novels, but essays on feminism, literary criticism, and some biography. During the early years of World War II, she spent most of her time at Monk's House on the Sussex coast, and it was there that she committed suicide, drowning herself in the Sussex coast on March 28, 1941.
Letters written by Virginia Woolf make up the bulk of this collection. Also included are two manuscripts and a few letters between other people. The collection is organized into three series, with materials arranged alphabetically by title or author: I. Works, 1940, nd, II. Letters, 1922-1940, and III. Miscellaneous, 1923-1956. This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.
The Works Series contains typescripts of Kew Gardens and "Thoughts on Peace During an Air Raid." Both manuscripts have been edited, with corrections and additions made in pencil.
The Letters Series contains about 80 letters from Woolf to various friends and acquaintances. A few individuals are particularly well represented, among them Richard Aldington, Dorothy and Janie Bussy, Angelica Garnett, and William Plomer.
While the Miscellaneous Series contains three autographs by Woolf, it is composed primarily of letters from her husband, Leonard Woolf, their friends Clive and Vanessa Bell, and Clarence Cline.
Open for research
Purchases and gifts, 1959-1997
Chelsea S. Jones, 1998
Virginia Woolf Collection--Folder List
Index entries that include the notation (from Woolf) indicate that the person is the recipient of correspondence from Virginia Woolf.
In general, the box and folder number are followed by the recipient of the letter(s) and the date of the letter(s) when known. Where there is no number, there is only one letter. So in the example
Bell, Clive, 1881-1964--1.12 (3 to Francis Hackett, 1931-1934)
Bell sent 3 letters to Francis Hackett between the years 1931 and 1934 and they are located in box 1, folder 12.
When a correspondent received as well as sent letters, or sent letters to more than one recipient, the sender and/or recipients are listed beneath the name of the sender and the date or span of dates of the correspondence are followed by the box and folder number. So in the example
Woolf, Leonard, 1880-1969--
to Angelica Garnett, 1941--1.12
6 to Francis Hackett, 1932-1934--1.12
Leonard Woolf sent one letter to Angelica Garnett in 1941, located in box 1, folder 12, and six letters to Francis Hackett between 1932 and 1934, which are also located in box 1, folder 12.