5 reasons why Virginia Woolf is the guide you need this year

Portrait of Virginia Woolf

Modernist writer VIRGINIA WOOLF was a century ahead of her time. Follow her progressive, free-spirited perspectives for 2018


She called for Time to be Up in 1929

2018 is the centenary of the female vote in the UK, but in a world where men still hold disproportionate economic and everything-else power, Virginia Woolf’s seminal text A Room of One’s Own remains an important argument for women’s rights. Feed your feminism by revisiting Woolf’s 1929 essay.

Elizabeth Debicki plays Virginia Woolf and Gemma Arterton stars as her lover, Vita Sackville-West, in 'Vita and Virginia'

She celebrated same-sex relationships

Elizabeth Debicki will take on the role of Virginia Woolf and Gemma Arterton will play the writer and socialite Vita Sackville-West in the new film Vita & Virginia, a movie about the friendship and affair between the two women, based on the passionate love letters they exchanged. Before you see the film (set for release later this year) familiarize yourself with Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando, which she dedicated to Sackville-West. It’s all about a gender-fluid poet; the socialite’s son Nigel Nicolson described the text as “the longest and most charming love-letter in literature.”

She knew the power of fashion

The British-bohemian aesthetic of Woolf’s free-spirited gang, the Bloomsbury Group, is a perennial style inspiration: think Victoriana detailing, chunky knits, checked overcoats, lace-up boots and printed dresses. All very now. Granted, Woolf was not known for her sense of style, but she appreciated the power of clothes: “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.”

She was an internationalist

Both Woolf and her husband Leonard believed that nations should cooperate and focus on what they have in common, rather than the things that might divide them such as culture, politics, race and class, an attitude that still feels forward-thinking. With their publishing house, Hogarth Press (founded in 1917), the Woolfs tried to promote understanding by publishing foreign authors or those with unconventional points of view who could introduce readers to a new perspective.

She’s still a catalyst for creativity

Woolf’s celebrated writings set the tone for a new exhibition, Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired By Her Writings, touring the UK this year. For decades, her pioneering feminist perspectives have inspired the literary world and way beyond. The artworks included in this new show orbit the themes of landscape, domesticity and identity. See it at Tate St Ives until April, then Pallant House, Chichester, and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, later in the year.

Vanessa Bell, 1879-1961, Interior with a Table, 1921, © Tate

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