Virginia Woolf’s Suicide Note
After completing the manuscript of her last (posthumously published) novel, Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf fell into a depression similar to that which she had earlier experienced. The onset of World War II, the destruction of her London home during the Blitz, and the cool reception given to her biography of her late friend Roger Fry all worsened her condition until she was unable to work. On 28 March 1941, Woolf put on her overcoat, filled its pockets with stones, walked into the River Ouse near her home, and drowned herself. Woolf’s body was not found until 18 April 1941. Her husband buried her cremated remains under an elm in the garden of Monk’s House, their home in Rodmell, Sussex.
In her last note to her husband she wrote:
I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.
Virginia Woolf Quotes
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
“I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
“Nothing has really happened until it has been described. So you must write many letters to your family and friends, and keep a diary.”
“I could not write, & all the devils came out — hairy black ones. To be 29 & unmarried — to be a failure — Childless — insane too, no writer.” — a letter from Woolf to sister Vanessa in June 1911 (four years before she finished her first novel)
A Few Comments About Virginia Woolf’s Work
There is a personal basis to her published work, which Virginia Woolf is at pains to conceal.
She would “enter a trough of the wave that always followed the exhilaration and absorption of writing.” — Briggs
“The novel’s [Orlando] flight, its idiosyncratic version of ‘magic realism’ have proved particularly freeing and enabling for other women writers.” — Briggs
Woolf gave us limitlessness, impossible to grasp, urgent to embrace, as fluid as water, as endless as desire, a compass by which to get lost. — Rebecca Solnit in “Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable”
Little Known Facts About Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf, born January 25, 1882 and died March 28, 1941, suffered from a manic-depressive illness most of her life that was diagnosed in her teens as neurasthenia (as had been her father, Sir Leslie Stephen) and would today be labeled bipolar disorder.
Woolf struggled with anorexia, convinced at times that she was monstrous, and that her “mouth and stomach were sordid in their demand for food.”
Better Known Facts About Virginia Woolf
Her father’s reputation as an editor, critic, and biographer, and his connection to William Thackeray, meant that his children were raised with regular contact with figures in Victorian literary society—positioning Virginia for experimenting with the art of writing.
The Stephens homeschooled sisters Virginia and Vanessa in the classics and English literature while their brothers Adrian and Julian were formally prepared and sent to Cambridge—a difference both of the sisters resented.
Virginia Woolf’s Notable Work
Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928), and A Room of One’s Own (1929)
Movies: Orlando, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Golven, Simple Gifts, and A Room of One’s Own
Virginia Woolf Sources
“Adeline Virginia Woolf.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 21 Sep. 2014
Julia Briggs. Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life. London: Allen Lane, 2005.
Eric R. Kandel. The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain From Vienna 1900 to the Present. New York: Random House, 2012.
“Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown.” Collected Essays. Ed. Leonard Woolf. Vol. 1. London: Hogarth, 1966.
David Young and Keith Hollaman (eds.). Magical Realist Fiction: An Anthology. New York: Longman Inc., 1984.
Project Gutenberg. Gutenberg.org.