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Virginia Woolf: An Illustrated Biography

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This beautifully illustrated biography follows Virginia Woolf's remarkable life and work (which includes Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves) and celebrates the literary icon's immense legacy. It also draws in the characters of the Bloomsbury Group - a band of friends with a revolutionary approach to art and culture - including Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Leonard This beautifully illustrated biography follows Virginia Woolf's remarkable life and work (which includes Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves) and celebrates the literary icon's immense legacy. It also draws in the characters of the Bloomsbury Group - a band of friends with a revolutionary approach to art and culture - including Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Leonard Woolf.


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This beautifully illustrated biography follows Virginia Woolf's remarkable life and work (which includes Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves) and celebrates the literary icon's immense legacy. It also draws in the characters of the Bloomsbury Group - a band of friends with a revolutionary approach to art and culture - including Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Leonard This beautifully illustrated biography follows Virginia Woolf's remarkable life and work (which includes Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves) and celebrates the literary icon's immense legacy. It also draws in the characters of the Bloomsbury Group - a band of friends with a revolutionary approach to art and culture - including Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Leonard Woolf.

30 review for Virginia Woolf: An Illustrated Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    This book raises a lot of interesting questions about how biography happens, how choices are made in terms of what is included and what left out, and what in a person's life is "appropriate" or particularly meaningful for kids books vs. adult books. A few gr reviewers say this is not a book for kids. Perhaps because of all the love affairs or perhaps because of Woolf's suicide? Or maybe just because it is assumed kids wouldn't be interested in publication dates? A few say they found the biograph This book raises a lot of interesting questions about how biography happens, how choices are made in terms of what is included and what left out, and what in a person's life is "appropriate" or particularly meaningful for kids books vs. adult books. A few gr reviewers say this is not a book for kids. Perhaps because of all the love affairs or perhaps because of Woolf's suicide? Or maybe just because it is assumed kids wouldn't be interested in publication dates? A few say they found the biography shelved "mistakenly" in kids book sections of a library or bookstore. One calls it a "teensy biography." A few call it a picture book for adults. One says "maybe middle grade and up." Some reviewers say it's not in-depth enough to be an adult book. Others say it's a kind of "overview" of her life. An outline. And yet others say they learned a lot of new things about Virginia Woolf from reading it. So, in essence, it's a book without a clear audience, one that's maybe a bit liminal. It's always wonderful when books defy the categories we try to set out for them. Kids/adult. Serious/silly. Informative/entertaining...Certainly this is not a scholarly or in-depth account of Woolf's life, and yet, it's intimate, gives a particularly acute sense of a certain restlessness and hunger for life, and also a lifelong struggle with illness. The Woolf in this account is a person who is passionate about art and ideas, and whose intellectual life does not preclude playfulness. It is all about playfulness--about the desire to observe and take in the external world as well as exploring her internal one, and to set it on the page in a way which shakes up our assumptions about what narrative should look like, feel like, and accomplish. There is a sense of simplicity in this book as it holds Woolf's complexity. I left its pages feeling like I knew Woolf better and also that she was utterly mysterious, even more so than before I picked the book up. Partly because of all the things Alkayat leaves out, and partly because people are terribly simple and utterly unknowable. The images are beautiful and whimsical and add a certain amount of levity to the book and yet, to a large degree, they form the deeper emotional tug of its pages. There is a lovely review in Brain Pickings from 2016. Below are a few quotes as well as a link to the review: "...writer Zena Alkayat and artist Nina Cosford pull back the cotton wool of Woolf’s own remarkable life and explore the thing itself with equal parts concision, compassion, and unsentimental reverence." "On March 28, 1941, Virginia fills her overcoat pockets with rocks, leaves Leonard a poignant farewell letter, walks into the River Ouse behind their house, and drowns. Measured by its end, her life is undeniably tragic. Measured by its substance, a sort of creative aliveness which few artists have matched in the entire history of humanity, it is undeniably triumphant. The book is a reminder — perhaps uncomfortable, but very much necessary and ultimately jubilant — that complexity and contradiction are the raw material of life, and that an extraordinary life contains an extraordinary dosage of both." https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/04...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    I found this delightful picture book in the children's section of a used bookshop . . . First of all, who would ever give this lovely little volume away? Second, this book is most definitely not for children. I would, perhaps, give it to a teenager who was beginning to read the Virginia Woolf oeuvre. It's also a must for the Virginia Woolf collector. Author Alkayat does an admirable job of collating quotations, biography, and excerpts from the author's work. It really is a neat overview of the hi I found this delightful picture book in the children's section of a used bookshop . . . First of all, who would ever give this lovely little volume away? Second, this book is most definitely not for children. I would, perhaps, give it to a teenager who was beginning to read the Virginia Woolf oeuvre. It's also a must for the Virginia Woolf collector. Author Alkayat does an admirable job of collating quotations, biography, and excerpts from the author's work. It really is a neat overview of the highlights of Virginia Woolf's life: the people, the work, the historical timeline. The illustrations, by Nina Cosford, are top-notch - and somehow in keeping with the Bloomsbury style. CHARMING!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Reads & Rambles

    Love, love, love everything about this little book. I have no idea why it's taken me so long to pick up, despite owning it for ages. The book itself is tiny, and very well published with thick pages, and a with a golden foil detailed hardcover. The watercolour art style is glorious, with a beautiful colour pallet matching the mood of each page. As a literary figure, Virginia Woolf has to be one of my most favourites. Despite not having read much of her work, I am fascinated by her life (even more Love, love, love everything about this little book. I have no idea why it's taken me so long to pick up, despite owning it for ages. The book itself is tiny, and very well published with thick pages, and a with a golden foil detailed hardcover. The watercolour art style is glorious, with a beautiful colour pallet matching the mood of each page. As a literary figure, Virginia Woolf has to be one of my most favourites. Despite not having read much of her work, I am fascinated by her life (even more so after this), the relationships she formed, and the legacy she left behind. The fact that she committed suicide is obviously very sad, yet in a way her death fills me with a hard to describe type of peaceful melancholy, especially after how it is tastefully commented on at the end of this mini bio. This is just a lovely, richly illustrated, biography of Virginia's life that is both compact, yet super informative. I learnt many a new fact reading this that I hadn't known before. Such as Vita Sackville-West being the inspiration behind Orlando- also, Vita comes across as quite the woman, too! I have the Jane Austen edition of this 'Life Portrait' series, with my eyes on the Frida Kahlo one too, and I'm sure there must be more intriguing women featured in the series aswell. Definitely pick this up if you see it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tamishly

    Scandalous!!! Spicy and depressing as well. But obviously inspirational. I love the crisp words. I love the illustrations. Well researched. Well represented.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Salma Mattar

    Amazing biography. Now i want to read Virginia Woolf's works. Amazing biography. Now i want to read Virginia Woolf's works.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kayleigh

    Very quick read with cute illustrations. I think it would interesting to read a more in depth biography of her life (sounds tragic) since this book was more of little facts.

  7. 4 out of 5

    thehalcyondaysofsummer

    Opening line: 'She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on.' Opening line: 'She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on.'

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I received a copy of Virginia Woolf: An Illustrated Biography for my birthday, and read it almost immediately. Everything about this book is an absolute delight. The writing is lovely, and manages to both be informative and spare, and the artwork is absolutely gorgeous. The author and illustrator work incredibly well together, and I will be looking out for more of their collaborations. This is a must for any Woolf fan, and it is a book which I will come back to time after time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    SpoonfulofHygge

    Such a cute book with fun illustrations! Now I’m really pumped to read Virginia Woolf’s books :)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nimra

    Delightful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Milena.Reads

    This was lovely. The illustrations very beautiful and the tone very fitting. I’m a big fan of Virginia Woolfs writing and I’m happy I bought this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Esots

    A sweet little illustrated biography of Virginia Woolf. A picture book for adults. Has the bones of her life, like her family history and influences. But also that she had a sweet tooth and the names of her pets. Plus pet names for her and her husband. Read in about 10 minutes. An unexpected delight.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Reed

    Found this at the public library in the "staff picks" section. What a delightful surprise! A very quick read-- learned a lot about Virginia Woolf and enjoyed the graphic elements. I would like to read more in this graphic series. Found this at the public library in the "staff picks" section. What a delightful surprise! A very quick read-- learned a lot about Virginia Woolf and enjoyed the graphic elements. I would like to read more in this graphic series.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    Beautifully drawn. I wished the creators had chosen more carefully about which tidbits to include and then highlight about Woolf’s life. Compared to “On Wings of Words,” a book about Emily Dickinson, this one lacked a more cohesive love for the writer. (That one was over-romanticized, a little.) I know—blend the two approaches and make books that show love and reality for the writers!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Kempkes

    If all biographies were this short maybe I'd read more. There were certain things I did want to know more about though, maybe I should read a full biography of her someday. I don't think I will ever get over Virginia's death. All I can ever think is, Why? If all biographies were this short maybe I'd read more. There were certain things I did want to know more about though, maybe I should read a full biography of her someday. I don't think I will ever get over Virginia's death. All I can ever think is, Why?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Luciana

    It was a great little read! I loved the format of the book...easy to read, quotes, images. I learned things about Virginia Woolf that I didn't know. It was a great little read! I loved the format of the book...easy to read, quotes, images. I learned things about Virginia Woolf that I didn't know.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Serenity

    Great book about Virginia's Woolf life. It is a quick and interesting book with nice art work. Great book about Virginia's Woolf life. It is a quick and interesting book with nice art work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    Not a children’s book, which is where my library placed it. Fine for adults.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Stunning illustrations, definitely serves its purpose overall aesthetically, but a little thin on content for a biography.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Wonderful introduction to Virginia Woolf, cataloged as Children's Biography but a good jumping off point for any age on her life and works. Wonderful introduction to Virginia Woolf, cataloged as Children's Biography but a good jumping off point for any age on her life and works.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alisa Cupcakeland

    I love these books. The ilustrations were beautiful as always and for such a short biography it still felt intimate and delicate.

  22. 5 out of 5

    KV

    A fair read. Nothing fascinating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    Great quick read and has a lot of information on Virginia Woolf.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Indi

    Pretty good and simple biography of Virginia Woolf. I loved learning more about her. And the illustrations are really pretty, making it a good reading experience :)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    A magnificent biography about the great writer Virginia Woolf. So poignant. I loved the illustrations.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeana

    Quick and lovely book that reads like Virginia Woolf’s life in a nutshell. The illustrations are simple and colorful and there is quite a bit of info in here.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maabena Nti

    Splendid

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nour Kadry

    Quick read with beautiful illustrations

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Owen

    Peculiar. Also beautiful. Worth the very short read. Many details about places, yet somewhat lacking in explanation when it comes to relationships.

  30. 5 out of 5

    akemi

    wtf why did nobody tell me virginia woolf and john maynard keynes hung out?

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