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BOOK REVIEW: "Life & Times of Virginia Woolf"

BOOK REVIEW: "Life & Works of Virginia Woolf" by Sue Asbee

Life and Works of Virginia Woolf by Sue Asbee is a slim tome. One of a series about various authors, it carries within its hundred odd pages a great deal of thinking matter. The book takes in the life of the author, her works, and some aspects of her time.

Born in London in 1882 to a blended affluent family, her father was a successful academic. Her brother was at University and his group of friends formed a group to discuss social and historical issues at their house. Women's education of the time took a different path much to Woolf's chagrin. The book details the family and its locations. After the parents pass away, the family move into an area of London called Bloomsbury. This develops into a well know set of which it could be said that so much has been written by so many about so few. Guess i will add to that. Her marriage resulted in the creation of Hogarth Press.

A member of the Bloomsbury set, Woolf wrote books in a stream of conscious genre, innovative for the time. The book details the author's development to this stage through her works. A modernist writer Woolf writes of the change in human relations which occur in about 1910, just prior to the First World War cataclysm. The novels are initially conventional, but develop with the authors age and life experience. "Orlando", for example, is a work which traces the life of a changeling, and skirts the history of English literature stylistically. Perhaps it is relevant to the transgender issue which inform todays world. Personally I was reading "To A Lighthouse" some 40 years ago, and could never get into it . Stylistically I get her writing skills, but nothing ever seemed to happen. Except perhaps a rich kid gets a bit sooky as he cant go on a boat trip. Many of her works are reflective of her own life.

Latter in life Woolf was to lecture at Cambridge in the two women's colleges. Her times were of suffragettism, and efforts of women to gain autonomy from a patriarchal society. Woolf contributed to this by her collaboration in a successful business, and her description of women in her novels.

Her works take in women in society, the mind and its analysis. Her set were to my mind a rather hedonistic set of self obsessives whose world is further affected by a Second World War. The author who was seemingly abused as a child, and suffered mental ill-health for much of her adult life finally, unfortunately, committed suicide during the Second World War. Her legacy lives on.

Another great book from the shelves of the Footscray Mechanics Library. NF

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