1. Despite her literary brilliance, Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) could not attend school. In her time, it was still uncommon in English society to send girls to school; so, together with her sister, they took to their father’s library and learned through the vast array of resources in his possession.
2. Woolf experienced an overabundance of childhood trauma. Her mother, Julia, passed away when Woolf was 13 years. Her half-sister, Stella, died two years later when her half-brothers sexually abused Woolf. Following these tragedies came her father’s death in 1904, which inspired Woolf to attempt suicide by jumping out of a window.
3. Lytton Strachey, a founding member of the Bloomsbury Group, was engaged to Woolf for a single day. He was homosexual; however, he reasoned that there were plenty of social benefits that came along with getting married. He immediately experienced deep regret when Woolf accepted his proposal, and he called the wedding off the following day. Woolf understood and forgave him.
4. She disdained the fact that her husband, Leonard Woolf, was a Jew. She referred to him as “Her penniless Jew” and often wrote negatively about his faith.
5. Her upbringing did not offer her much help in the way of domestic duties. When she married Leonard, she realized she needed to learn how to bake and cook. She enrolled in a culinary program and attempted to bake her husband one of the recipes she had learned. Her inexperience led her inadvertently to bake her wedding ring inside of the pastry.
6. She was a champion of women’s rights and independence. One of her most prolific quotes is: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
7. She was bisexual. Woolf experienced romantic feelings toward other women despite being in a heterosexual marriage. She expressed feelings toward multiple women: Madge Symons, Kitty Maxse, Violet Dickinson, and most famously, Vita Sackville-West.
8. Woolf struggled with mental illness. Stemming from the suffering she endured as a child, she developed clinical depression that persisted until her death. Her condition was so bad that she avoided looking at herself in the mirror and was advised to stop writing altogether.
9. In the 1920s, her psychiatrist George Savage hypothesized that mental illness was caused by bacteria found in the roots of one’s teeth. He suggested that Woolf have three of her teeth removed. Obviously, the treatment did not work, and she was subject to wearing false teeth for the rest of her life.
10. On March 28, 1941, Virginia Woolf took her own life. Finding herself wallowing in depression, she filled her pockets with rocks and walked out into the River Ouse. She is remembered as one of the finest writers of the 20th century and is studied critically in literature courses around the world.