LITERATURE

Virginia Woolf: And the Women Who Shaped Her World

Houghton Harcourt. Dec. 2019. 432p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781328683953. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781328694485. LIT
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Gill (We Two: Victoria and Albert) presents the life of Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) within the social and literary context of her time, expounding on the influence of the women with whom she was exceptionally close, including her mother, sisters, aunt, and niece. Moreover, Gill demonstrates the extent to which women were hampered by social constraints, and how Woolf’s relatives provided the impetus for her own achievements. Woolf resented the limitations imposed by the male-dominated culture that denied her the education her brothers received and failed to protect her from their sexual abuse. Always aware of the significance of gender, Woolf identified as a feminist while enjoying a happy marriage to author Leonard Woolf. Gill additionally examines Woolf’s mental health issues, which resulted in periods of depression and several suicide attempts, the last of which was fatal. The Bloomsbury Group, consisting primarily of Cambridge intellectuals, writers, and artists, also figures prominently, with its libertine reaction against Victorianism.
VERDICT Despite the occasionally gossipy tone and casual language that detracts from the work’s overall scholarly perspective, this volume will be welcomed by readers and students curious about the cultural aspects of Woolf’s development as a writer.

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