January 25, 2018
Virginia Woolf’s 136th Birthday
“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."
These childhood memories inspired the settings and themes of English author Virginia Woolf’s powerful stream-of-consciousness narratives, a unique literary style that established Woolf as one of modern feminism’s most influential voices.
Born in London in 1882, Woolf grew up in a home with a large library, and a constant stream of literary visitors come to call on her author and historian father. Unsurprisingly, Woolf would become an integral member of the Bloomsbury Group, a collective of prominent contemporary intellectuals and artists.
Woolf’s lyrical writing thrived on the introspection of her characters, revealing the complex emotions underlying seemingly mundane events — how the ringing of the Big Ben evokes the passage of time in Mrs. Dalloway (1925) or a family’s visit to the coast hides deep-seated tensions in To the Lighthouse (1927).
Nonfiction works like A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938) showcase Woolf’s unflinching feminist perspective by documenting the gendered intellectual stratification and resulting male-dominated power dynamics of the period.
Created by London-based illustrator Louise Pomeroy, today’s Doodle celebrates Woolf’s minimalist style — her iconic profile surrounded by the falling autumn leaves (a frequent visual theme in her work). In Woolf’s words: “The autumn trees gleam in the yellow moonlight, in the light of harvest moons, the light which mellows the energy of labor, and smooths the stubble, and brings the wave lapping blue to the shore.”
Happy 136th birthday, Virginia Woolf!
Early drafts of the Doodle below