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Virginia Woolf painted by Roger Fry c.1917
Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) (1882-1941) was born into the late Victorian intellectual aristocracy, her father Sir Leslie Stephen being the first editor of the DNB. From 1904-12 she lived in Bloomsbury with her siblings and other friends, many of whom had been at Cambridge; this was the origin of the ‘Bloomsbury Group’. After her marriage to Leonard Woolf in 1912 she and her husband founded the Hogarth Press, partly as something to preoccupy her in the face of frequent bouts of mental illness; this was both innovative and successful. Virginia Woolf became a prolific writer, publishing modernist novels such as Mrs Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927), biographies and essays (including A Room of One’s Own 1929). Flush: a biography (1933), written as a respite from the rigours of writing The Waves (1931), was her most successful book commercially. Many consider her letters and diaries, published after her death, to be her greatest work. Persephone now publishes Leonard Woolf’s 1953 selection from Virginia Woolf’s diaries, A Writer’s Diary.