has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known
to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title."
- Virginia Woolf
Questioning the Story:
Did Virginia Woolf really commit suicide by drowning herself
in a river with a stone?
Yes, Virginia did commit suicide by putting a large
stone in the pocket of her coat to weigh herself down under
the water of the nearby river Ouse. In the film, however,
before her suicide, she writes two farewell letters, one
to her husband and one to her sister, Vanessa. This is not
entirely accurate, Vara Neverow, president of the International
Virginia Woolf Society, points out. "Essentially, there
were two letters written to her husband, one of which was
found later," Neverow says. The other letter is believed
to have been written ten days earlier, before a previous
unsuccessful attempt, where she returned home from a walk
soaking wet, saying that she had fallen.
Travel back some sixty years into history as you listen
to part of the only surviving record of Virginia Woolf's
voice. The excerpt is from a broadcast that she made on
April 29, 1937. She is talking about 'words' and says:
"....purity or their impurity discussed. If you start
a society for pure English they will show their resentment
by starting another for impure English. Hence the unnatural
violence of much modern speech."
LISTEN (.wav, 132k)
The quality is not high, but by listening we can hear her
voice and accent, which to contemporary British ears sounds
both upper-class and very dated. This reminds us of the
time from which she came, having been born in 1882, the
daughter of a knight.
Farewell Letter to Her Husband:
'Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we
can't go through another of those terrible times. And I
shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I
can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing
to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness.
You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't
think two people could have been happier till this terrible
disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am
spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And
you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly.
I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness
of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me
and incredibly good. I want to say that - everybody knows
it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.
Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness.
I can't go on spoiling your life any longer.
I don't think two people could have been happier than we
to Learn More:
Here are the best Virginia Woolf sites that we know of on
the web. Learn about Virginia's psychiatric history, read
about her life chronologically, join the International Virginia
Woolf Society, and much more. Everything you need to become
a true Woolfian can be found below.
Woolf's Psychiatric History
Woolf Chronology (traces the events in her life)
Woolf - Suicide
Her Works (a listing of Virginia Woolf Items)
of Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf Society
The Hours Movie Preview: