Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was one of the major English novelists and public intellectuals of the twentieth century. Between 1915 and 1941 she produced nine novels, numerous works of short fiction and eight books or collections of non-fiction. Virginia Woolf is particularly noted as a woman in a society which did not expect women to demonstrate outstanding intellectual ability or to act independently. While she enjoyed the financial and social advantages of an upper-class background, she suffered its educational disadvantages, never having the opportunity to attend a university as her brothers did.

In her book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929), she addressed the necessary conditions for a woman to flourish as a writer:

...a room of one's own and £500 a year.

In the companion volume, Three Guineas (1938), she returned to the theme of the need for women of her class - the daughters of educated men - to obtain formal education, independence, a professional career and an income. In her view, women's right to earn their living was the most important right of all, resulting in both material and mental independence from patriarchal control. At the same time, she argued that women should not seek to join the professions on the same terms, or to lead the same lives, as men, but should adopt the critical stance of the outsider, questioning established institutions and pursuing political and ethical goals in their own ways.

Virginia Woolf was a regular visitor to Kent, notably to Sissinghurst (the home of Vita Sackville-West). She also spent several weeks convalescing at Moat House in Blean, on the outskirts of Canterbury, and wrote that, even compared with Florence and Venice

There is no lovelier place in the world than Canterbury.

Over 100 years since she first began her professional writing career her popularity and influence live on. Many of the values she espoused featured later in the higher education system of the late twentieth century. The University is proud to name its new college after a figure who, in many ways, embodies its values and aspirations.