10 Fascinating Facts About August's Author
How Well Do You Know August's Author?
Earlier this week I shared a few clues to help our incurably curious #PLeeps figure out which author, title, and destination we featured in August's Book Box and I promised during that Pretty Literate LIVE that I'd reveal the author in today's blog.
(If you want to exercise your own grey cells before the big reveal, you can watch the replay of this week's LIVE before continuing to read this week's blog.)
If you think you know the classic author we featured inside August's destination-themed book box (the last of the summer!), go ahead and scroll past this quick recap.
A Quick Recap
If you missed the clues I shared during the LIVE and life is too busy to watch the replay, I gotchu. Here are a few of the clues that I shared.
- Scottish seaside
- Pebble beaches
- Family vacation house
- Friends coming and going
- Leisure time to pursue hobbies
- Slower pace
- Long dinners with meandering conversations
- A bit of boating
- Slow walks by the seaside
- Early 1900s
- Fiction loosely mirrors author's experience
- Very different writing style
- First published work was about the Brontë sisters
- Night school teacher
- Used middle name because she thought it was more sophisticated
Think you've got a good idea who our featured author is in August? See if your guess hit the bullseye below.
Who is August's Author?
If you guessed classic author Virginia Woolf, give yourself a pat on the back because you are one of only a few that correctly guessed August's author.
Kudos on your knowledge of classic authors! You know enough to be able to navigate through basic clues to arrive at the right destination. I applaud you!
You have a firm foundation upon which to build a better understanding of this month's author, so keep reading, my friend.
If you did not guess classic author Virginia Woolf, you're in good company.
Maybe you're like me - you've heard the author's name, but are unfamiliar with her writing.
Maybe you've started to read one of her titles, but never actually landed that plane because her writing style was otherworldly.
Maybe reading classic literature is on your list of reading goals, but you're at the beginning of that epic expedition.
For whatever reason, Virginia Woolf's name did not come to mind. And that's okay because, like I said, you're in good company, my reading friend.
Here are 10 Fascinating Facts About August's Author that I bet you didn't know, whether you guessed her name correctly - or not!
Meet Virginia Woolf.
Ties to the Brontës. Virginia Woolf's first published work was an article about the Brontë sisters that appeared in The Guardian (circa December 21, 1901) titled Haworth, November 1904. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety here, especially if you are a lover of any of the Brontë sisters' work, as it is written in such a way that the reader can almost see the setting that inspired their works.
Significance of Mementos. In Virginia Woolf's first published work (see above), you can see the importance the author placed on mementos (personal objects that hold significance because they are a reminder or souvenir of a person or event) as she describes the personal effects of Charlotte Brontë. It is that special perspective that sets Woolf's writings apart and invites her readers to connect with her characters.
Ties to Vanity Fair author, William Thackeray. While not directly related to the author of the 1848 classic, Virginia Woolf's half-sister (Laura Stephen) was - on her mother's side. (Virginia & Laura had their father in common, Laura being a product of his first marriage, and Virginia a product of his second marriage.) Sadly, Woolf's older half-sister spent most of her life institutionalized, living in either an asylum or under private care.
Night School Teacher. After losing her mother at age 13 and her father ten years later, Woolf briefly became a night school teacher (while continuing her freelance writing). Morley College offered evening classes for the working class and to supplement her income following her father's death, Woolf took a part-time teaching position for one year - the one time in her life that she brushed elbows with the working class.
Dog Person? Even though the public prefers to focus on Woolf's more angsty, complicated works, the author had a softer side, as well. In 1933, she published a fictional work about Elizabeth Barrett Browning's faithful canine & companion titled Flush. You can read it for FREE here.
Preferred Virginia over her Given Name. Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen (c. 1882), but chose to use her middle name, Virginia, because she thought it sounded more sophisticated. Some even speculate that her motivation might have been a rite of passage in her day.
Stream of Consciousness. Stream of consciousness writing can be difficult to read, but is a creative and clever way to probe the inner life of characters and one of the most notable authors to employ that literary device was none other than Virginia Woolf. (Other authors include James Joyce, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, T.S. Elliot.)
Modernist Writer. Virginia Woolf's novels contemplate the ideas common to the modernist writers including time, perception, and the subconscious. Other examples of modernist literature include Ulysses by James Joyce and Mrs. Dalloway by our August author herself.
The Marginalized. Woolf wrote a lot about the intimacies of family life, featuring creative women who used their intelligence and abilities to further themselves in a male-dominated society. She was fascinated with the overlooked people in society and enjoyed writing from their point of view.
Mental Health. It is thought that Virginia Woolf suffered understandable mental breakdowns at the death of each of her parents (see Night School Teacher above). She survived an unsuccessful suicide attempt in 1913, but was sadly successful in 1941 when the author placed rocks in her pockets and drown herself in the River Ouse in North Yorkshire, England.
Now That You Know Virginia...
I want to invite you to check out one of the novels Virginia Woolf is most known for writing in our new August Book Box. Explore Woolf's writing style (infused with many of the characteristics and elements aforementioned) in a one-of-a-kind experience that almost transports you to the seaside of Scotland's picturesque Isle of Skye. To the Lighthouse is an unforgettable vicarious vacation that's perfect to end the summer reading and I've paired it with an equally unforgettable bookish souvenir - one you can keep to yourself, or share with your own houseguests this last full month of summer.
How Well Did You Know Virginia Woolf?
Are you a Virginia Woolf newbie like me?
Do you have enough experience with her writings to consider yourself a novice?
Or maybe you fancy yourself a Virginia Woolf aficionado?
Share your level of Woolf prowess in the comments below - along with any of her titles you heartily recommend.