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A compendium of queer people in the 19th and 20th centuries // Drawn and researched by Michele Rosenthal

Virginia  Woolf

Virginia Woolf 1882to –1941

English modernist writer, and central figure of the Bloomsbury Group, known for Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and A Room of One’s Own. Raised in an intellectual and literary home, she was dealt an emotional blow at a young age when her mother, father, and two siblings died in quick succession. This led to her first struggle with mental illness, the bouts of depression which would plague her throughout her life. At 30, she married Leonard Woolf, and together they started a publishing house that began printing her work. Before her marriage, Woolf had enjoyed a few intense friendships with other women, and often linked creativity to female companionship. But those relationships were never sexual until she met Vita Sackville-West—a known “Sapphist"—at the age of 40. Their relationship lasted about three years, during which Woolf wrote Orlando. The book, which casts Vita as a man transformed into a woman who lives for three centuries, is seen as a novel-length love letter, though not the only one of Woolf’s works to address lesbianism either obliquely or openly. They remained close friends up until Woolf’s suicide.

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