In honor of British novelist Virginia Woolf’s 136th birthday, tech giant Google teamed up with London-based illustrator Louise Pomeroy to recreate one of Woolf’s most iconic profiles for the Google homepage.
Here are six things to know about one of the 20th century’s top pioneers in literature:
She was born in London, England.
Woolf was born on Jan. 25, 1882, and was the youngest daughter of author and critic Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Stephen. She had three full siblings and four half-siblings.
She lived at her 22 Hyde Park Gate home in Kensington for all her life.
A plaque at the house reads, “Virginia Woolf 1882-1941, Novelist and Critic, Born and lived here until 1904.”
Some of her best known works include:
- “Mrs. Dalloway” (1925)
- “To The Lighthouse” (1927)
- “Orlando” (1928)
- “A Room of One's Own” (1929)
- “Three Guineas” (1938)
Woolf is credited with popularizing steam-of-conscious prose style.
This literary style involves a character’s uninterrupted, flowing thoughts, reactions and feelings by objective description or conventional dialogue.
Google included an example of this at the top of its post on Woolf:
“I see children running in the garden…The sound of the sea at night…
almost forty years of life, all built on that, permeated by that: so much I could never explain."
She was sexually abused by her half-brothers and suffered bouts of depression.
In her essays titled “A Sketch of the Past” and “22 Hyde Park Gate,” Woolf wrote about being sexually abused by her half-brothers George and Gerald at a very young age.
At 13, Woolf’s mother died suddenly from rheumatic fever and her half-sister Stella died two years later.
Her father died in 1904 from stomach cancer.
“It was a string of calamities that could have resulted in a youth that was deeply disturbed,” author Nigel Nicolson wrote in his book on the British novelist. “But she was courageous, resilient and enterprising.”
Woolf later died after committing suicide.
In 1941, at age 59, Woolf took her own life by drowning.
According to the Independent, she “wad[ed] into the River Ouse in Sussex with stones lining her pockets to ensure she drowned.”
She is regarded as a feminist icon. Some of Woolf’s top quotes on women include:
- "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."
- “As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”
- “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
- “Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”
- “Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.”