August 10

This Day in History

Literary

Aug 10, 1912:

Virginia and Leonard Woolf marry

On this day, Virginia Stephen, 30, marries Leonard Woolf, 31, at a registry office in London.

Virginia Woolf, born in 1882, grew up surrounded by intellectuals. Her father was a writer and philosopher, and her mother was a British aristocrat. In 1902, Virginia's father died, and Virginia took a house with her sister and two brothers in the Bloomsbury district of London near the British Museum. The family developed close friendships with other intellectuals and writers, including writer E.M. Forster, economist J.M. Keyes, and biographer Lytton Strachey. Their circle of friends came to be called the Bloomsbury group, a leisured set associated with progressive intellectual ideas and sexual liberty: Many of the group, including Woolf herself, were bisexual or homosexual. Woolf became a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and also took odd jobs to support herself until she inherited a comfortable income from an aunt.

Virginia married writer and social reformer Leonard Woolf in 1912. The couple established the Hogarth Press in their dining room several years later. In addition to Virginia Woolf's later novels, the press also published T.S. Eliot and translations of Chekhov and Dostoevsky.

Woolf published her groundbreaking novel Mrs. Dalloway in 1925. Its stream-of-consciousness structure deeply influenced later writers. That same year, she fell in love with poet Vita Sackville-West, who was married to the bisexual diplomat and author Harold Nichols. The affair inspired Woolf's most whimsical work, Orlando. Woolf wrote several more novels as well as social and literary criticism. However, she suffered from depression and mental illness all her life. In 1941, fearful for her own sanity and afraid of the coming world war, she filled her pockets with rocks and drowned herself.

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