Year
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.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Son of Sam arrested

On August 10, 1977, 24-year-old postal employee David Berkowitz is arrested and charged with being the “Son of Sam,” the serial killer who terrorized New York City for more than a year, killing six young people and wounding seven others with a .44-caliber revolver. Because ...read more

New state west of the Mississippi

Missouri enters the Union as the 24th state–and the first located entirely west of the Mississippi River. Named for one of the Native American groups that once lived in the territory, Missouri became a U.S. possession as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In 1817, Missouri ...read more

Louvre Museum opens

After more than two centuries as a royal palace, the Louvre is opened as a public museum in Paris by the French revolutionary government. Today, the Louvre’s collection is one of the richest in the world, with artwork and artifacts representative of 11,000 years of human ...read more

Smithsonian Institution created

After a decade of debate about how best to spend a bequest left to America from an obscure English scientist, President James K. Polk signs the Smithsonian Institution Act into law. In 1829, James Smithson died in Italy, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the ...read more

Diem refuses to negotiate with Communists

Declaring that South Vietnam is “the only legal state,” Ngo Dinh Diem, Premier of the State of Vietnam, announces that he will not enter into negotiations with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) on elections as long as the Communist government remains in power in ...read more

Pete Rose sets National League hits record

On this day in 1981, Pete Rose of the Philadelphia Phillies gets the 3,631st hit of his baseball career, breaking Stan Musial’s record for most hits by a National Leaguer. The record-breaking hit came in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team with whom Musial had spent ...read more

Herbert Hoover is born

Future President Herbert Hoover is born on this day in 1874 in West Branch, Iowa. After being tragically orphaned at the age of nine, Hoover lived with his uncle, attended Quaker schools and then graduated from Stanford University with a degree in engineering. Hoover and his wife ...read more

Three-ship collision causes oil spill

A rare collision of three ships in Tampa Bay, Florida, results in a spill of 336,000 gallons of fuel oil on this day in 1993. Fortunately, a combination of favorable weather conditions and preparedness kept the damage to a minimum. It was about 6 a.m. when two fuel barges heading ...read more

Child found decapitated

The severed head of six-year-old Adam Walsh, who disappeared from a shopping mall two weeks earlier, is found in a canal in Vera Beach, Florida. Two years later, career criminal Ottis Ellwood Toole, then an inmate at a Raiford, Florida, prison, confessed to Adam’s abduction and ...read more

Truman signs National Security Bill

President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Bill, which establishes the Department of Defense. As the Cold War heated up, the Department of Defense became the cornerstone of America’s military effort to contain the expansion of communism. In 1947, the National Security ...read more

Fatal Ford Pinto crash in Indiana

On this day in 1978, three teenage girls die after their 1973 Ford Pinto is rammed from behind by a van and bursts into flames on an Indiana highway. The fatal crash was one of a series of Pinto accidents that caused a national scandal during the 1970s. The small and economical ...read more