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[Image Description: Circular photo with a black border, photo is a black and white headshot of Virginia Woolf, sat at an angle and looking into the camera. The background is purple. Text reads "Queer History. Virginia Woolf."]
January 11, 2022
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Virginia Woolf, born in 1882, was an influential English novelist and essayist. Indeed, she is often considered to be one of the most important authors of the 20th century. There is some debate about her sexuality, between whether she was lesbian or a bisexual. But she definitely falls under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. 

 

Born in London, her love of writing showed itself at a young age, beginning a family newspaper at the age of nine. This stopped abruptly when her mother died in 1895, followed closely by older sister in 1897 and her father (who was quite a significant literary figure in his day) in 1904. This death caused Virginia to have a nervous breakdown. As she recovered, her family moved to Bloomsbury and they began hosting weekly gatherings of radical young people, many of them later on became famous themselves. 

 

Virginia married Leonard Woolf in 1912 and he began a career as a political writer while she was working as a literary journalist and on her first novel, The Voyage Out which was published in 1915. It should be noted that neither of them was sexually faithful, and that Virginia was averse to sex with men, thought to be because of her childhood sexual abuse. She had numerous affairs with women, including affairs with Sibyl Colefax, Lady Ottoline Maxwell and Mary Hutchinson. Her most famous affair though began in 1924 when she met Vita Sackville-West and the two began a decade long affair. Sackville West even became the main inspiration for the character and book Orlando; a biography. 

 

She was quite a productive writer, publishing over 500 essays and 8 novels over a 40 year career. Her novels include but are not limited to: Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, the aforementioned Orlando, and The Waves 

 

Virginia Woolf’s mental health was always fragile, with frequent bouts of depression throughout her life, and in 1941 her mood darkened to the point where she drowned herself In the River Ouse. 

 

Beyond reflections 

Virginia Woolf continues to impact on the LGBT+ community in a few different ways, not least of which is simply because as either a lesbian or a bisexual woman her voice is not a common one amongst all of literature. The Bloomsbury Group, which she had an active role in hosting, was made up almost entirely of homosexual or bisexual important figures – Including the artist Duncan Grant, the economist John Maynard Keynes and the authors E. M Forster and Lytton Strachey. It becomes evident that members of this group will have helped each other to reach success. Acting as inspiration and as promotion for each other. It is important to remember debt the Bloomsbury group was very well known for being LGBT and for creating art and books that showed this. 

 

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