The Victorians in Virginia Woolf: 1832–1941

  • Gillian Beer


Where did Victorian writing go? What happened to those piled sentences of Ruskin’s, those Carlylean metaphors, the lyrical grotesqueries of Dickens, aspirated for the speaking voice but lodged between covers? One answer is that they went into the writing of Virginia Woolf — and some very strange things happened to them there.


Page Reference Strange Thing Mere Film Modern Painter Speak Voice 
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  1. 1.
    For discussion of Woolf’s Victorian upbringing, see Noel Annan, Leslie Stephen: The Godless Victorian (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1984)Google Scholar
  2. and Phyllis Rose, Woman of Letters: A Life of Virginia Woolf (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  3. Woolf was called Adeline after her mother’s sister, Adeline Vaughan, who died the year before Virginia’s birth: see Leslie Stephen, The Mausoleum Book, ed. A. Bell (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977) pp. 59, 66–70. 1832 is the year of Stephen’s birth, 1941 of Woolf’s death.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Woolf uses Coventry Patmore’s title, The Angel in the House, for her own oppositional purposes. See The Death of the Moth (London: Hogarth Press, 1942) pp. 150–1, where a close relation between her mother and the angel is suggested.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gillian Beer, ‘Virginia Woolf and Pre-history’, in Virginia Woolf: A Centenary Perspective, ed. Eric Warner (London: Mamillan, 1984) pp. 99–123 (quotation from p. 100).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 7.
    Virginia Woolf, Collected Essays (London: Hogarth Press, 1966) vol. I, pp. 212–13.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh (London, 1857) bk I, 1. 426.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Frederic Harrison, in the Cornhill Magazine, XVI (n.s.) (1904) 432–43.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Perry Meisel, The Absent Father: Virginia Woolf and Walter Pater (New Haven, Conn., and London: Yale University Press, 1980);Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    Virginia Woolf, Flush: A Biography (London, Hogarth Press, 1940) p. 19.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    Quoted in Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey: A Biography (London: Heinemann, 1970) p. 312.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Virginia Woolf, ‘Women and Fiction’, in Granite and Rainbow (London, 1958) p. 83.Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (London, 1925) p. 88.Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    Thomas Henry Huxley, ‘On the Physical Basis of Life’, Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews (London, 1870) pp. 104–27 (quotation from pp. 105–6). Huxley’s volume is dedicated to John Tyndall.Google Scholar
  15. 27.
    Virginia Woolf, The Waves (London, 1931) p. 8.Google Scholar
  16. 28.
    James A. Froude, Thomas Carlyle: A History of his Life in London, 1834–1881 (London, 1884) vol. I, pp. 289–91.Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    John Tyndall, On Radiation (London, 1865) pp. 9–10.Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    John Tyndall, Six Lectures on Light (London, 1873) p. 53.Google Scholar
  19. 31.
    See, for example, ‘The Scientific Use of the Imagination’ in John Tyndall, Use and Limit of the Imagination in Science (London, 1870) p. 26,Google Scholar
  20. 32.
    For a rather general discussion of the possible effects of Woolf’s reading in twentieth-century popular physics see Alan J. Friedman and Carol C. Donley, Einstein as Myth and Muse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  21. 33.
    Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts (London: Hogarth Press, 1941) p. 203. Further page references are included in the text.Google Scholar

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© Gillian Beer 1988

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  • Gillian Beer

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