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Woolf, Virginia (1882-1941)  
page: 1  2  3  4  5  

Not only does the novel make Vita immortal, Woolf in addition is able to grant her several wishes: having the best of both sexes and the most of each one, sexually. Woolf enables her to inherit the family estate, Knole, which Vita had been disinherited of due to her gender.

She makes her an accomplished writer, rather than giving her the "pen of brass" she thought she really had. And finally she bestows on her beauty through Orlando's stately legs, thereby representing her as a "real woman," in contrast to her own sense of herself as a "eunuch."

And yet Woolf's one venture into female eroticism ended with Orlando, capturing in print what she wasn't able to have in life due to Vita's infidelity and her own stifled sexuality. Originally entitled "The Jessamy Brides" ("Jessamy" referring to a dandy or fop), Orlando represents both what Woolf could never be or have except through her art.

Anne Herrmann

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literature >> Overview:  Bisexual Literature

Although Western culture's reliance upon binary systems of classification and identification has meant the practical erasure of bisexuality, as such, from literary and cultural analysis, bisexual experiences appear in many literary works from ancient times to the present.

literature >> Overview:  Bloomsbury

The Bloomsbury circle's open acceptance of erotic license and hostility toward social convention are important elements in the history of homosexuality among the English upper classes in the first half of the twentieth century.

social sciences >> Overview:  Cambridge Apostles

The Cambridge Apostles, founded in 1820 as a secret society at Cambridge University, is significant for the glbtq cultural legacy because it fostered frank discussions of homosexuality, promoted Platonic love, and helped establish Bloomsbury.

literature >> Overview:  Cross-Dressing

In literature, the gay male cross-dresser and the lesbian cross-dresser are depicted quite differently.

literature >> Overview:  English Literature: Twentieth-Century

Homosexuality, both male and female, has a rich, divergent, and increasingly open expression in the literature of the twentieth century.

literature >> Overview:  Identity

Although the question of homosexual identity is a complex one, it has polarized activists, theorists, and literary critics into two primary camps, essentialists and constructionists, both of which can contribute usefully to an understanding of the gay and lesbian literary heritage.

literature >> Overview:  Modernism

Despite the widespread homophobia in the Modernist movement, several of its practitioners were homosexual; some of them wrote openly about homosexuality, and the groundwork was laid for the gay liberation movement.

literature >> Overview:  Novel: Lesbian

From the great modernist writers of the 1920s and 1930s to the pulp writers of the 1950s to the lesbian writers of today, lesbian novelists have had a powerful impact on the lesbian community.

social sciences >> Overview:  United Kingdom II: 1900 to the Present

Twentieth-century efforts to reform British law and public opinions about homosexuality met with mixed results, but at the beginning of the twenty-first century the United Kingdom has emerged as a leader in recognizing the rights of its glbtq citizens.

literature >> Overview:  War Literature

From ancient times, homoerotic writing has been a notable part of the literature of war.

literature >> Forster, E. M.

One of the finest English novelists of the twentieth century and a tireless defender of humane values, Forster deserves a special place in the gay and lesbian literary heritage.

arts >> Freund, Gisèle

Though she was an accomplished and respected photojournalist, Gisèle Freund is today best remembered as a chronicler of the vibrant bohemian community of artists and writers that made its home in Paris during the 1930s.

literature >> Hall, Radclyffe

Radclyffe Hall, who lived her lesbianism openly and proudly, is best known for The Well of Loneliness, arguably the most important lesbian novel ever written.

literature >> Isherwood, Christopher

A major Anglo-American novelist and a pioneer in the gay liberation movement, Christopher Isherwood created gay characters whose homosexuality is a simple given, an integral part of the wholeness of personality and an emblem of their common humanity.

literature >> Lehmann, John

One of the most distinguished and discerning British men of letters of the mid-twentieth century, John Lehmann is best known as an editor and publisher.

literature >> Sackville-West, Vita

Best known for her relationship with Virginia Woolf and for her scandalous love affairs, Vita Sackville-West was a prolific author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

arts >> Smyth, Dame Ethel

The most important female composer in early twentieth-century English music, Dame Ethel Smyth enjoyed a class privilege that allowed her to be an unapologetic lesbian.

literature >> Strachey, Lytton

The English biographer and essayist Lytton Strachey spoke openly of his homosexuality to his Bloomsbury friends, but his openly gay works were published only after his death.

literature >> Symonds, John Addington

John Addington Symonds was the most daring innovator in the history of nineteenth-century British homosexual writing and consciousness.


Barrett, Ellen, and Patricia Cramer. Virginia Woolf: Lesbian Readings. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

Bell, Quentin. Virginia Woolf: A Biography. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972.

DeSalvo, Louise A. "Lighting the Cave: The Relationship between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf." Signs 8.2 (Winter 1982): 195-214.

Hawkes, Ellen. "Woolf's 'Magical Garden of Woman.'" New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf. Jane Marcus, ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981. 31-60.

Herrmann, Anne. The Dialogic and Difference: "An/Other Woman" in Virginia Woolf and Christa Wolf. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

Jensen, Emily. "Clarissa Dalloway's Respectable Suicide." Virginia Woolf: A Feminist Slant. Jane Marcus, ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983. 162-179.

Knopp, Sherron E. "'If I saw you would you kiss me?': Sapphism and the Subversiveness of Virginia Woolf's Orlando." Sexual Sameness: Textual Differences in Lesbian and Gay Writing. Joseph Bristow, ed. London: Routledge, 1992. 111-127.

Lee, Hermione. Virginia Woolf. London: Chatto & Windus, 1996.

Love, Jean O. "Orlando and Its Genesis: Venturing and Experimenting in Art, Love, and Sex." Virginia Woolf: Revaluation and Continuity. Ralph Freedman, ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. 189-218.

Marcus, Jane. Virginia Woolf and the Languages of Patriarchy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

Meese, Elizabeth. "When Virginia Looked at Vita, What Did She See; or Lesbian : Feminist : Woman----What's the Differ(e/a)nce?" Feminist Studies 18.1 (Spring 1992): 99-118.

Raitt, Suzanne. Vita and Virginia: The World and Friendship of V. Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Rose, Phyllis. Woman of Letters: A Life of Virginia Woolf. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Rosenman, Ellen Bayuk. "Sexual Identity and A Room of One's Own: 'Secret Economies' in Virginia Woolf's Feminist Discourse." Signs 14.3 (Spring 1989): 634-650.


    Citation Information
    Author: Herrmann, Anne  
    Entry Title: Woolf, Virginia  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated July 24, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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