It was on a particularly lonesome and directionless day that I wandered into my local library and first came upon Virginia Woolf’s novels. Since I was aware she was revered as one of the greatest English writers of the early twentieth century, I felt somewhat intimidated picking up her books but once I started reading I became enraptured by her sumptuous prose and heartfelt writing on ordinary life. Somehow daily details are elevated into moments of startling significance in her fiction. Her writing has that rare ability to literally reshape how you see the world around you. I don’t feel like I read her books so much as live through them.
In recent decades, Virginia Woolf has also become such a cult figure that her life is as much a subject of fascination as her writing. As a central figure of the influential Bloomsbury Group, she was embroiled in their complicated and, at the time, scandalous affairs. Their fascinating lives, beset by tragedy, have been turned into films and television dramas. Woolf has become a revered figurehead whose life and thoughts have helped shaped modern ideas about feminism, sexuality and mental health. Yet, it’s in her artfully crafted books that we most feel her indomitable spirit and continue to hear the voice of Virginia herself. Each time I read these imaginative books I find something so fresh and new it’s like the purple ink from her pen has only just dried.