Contextualization (V.W.) Copy

VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882-1941)


  • At the beginning of the First World War I (1914), Great Britain was the greatest colonial power in the world;
  • During the First World War (1914-1918) 1 million Britons died and 2 million were wounded;
  • After the First World War, the colonies increased their demands for independence. The British Commonwealth of Nations was set up in 1926.
  • The first half of the 20th century marked the end of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution;


Britain’s economic and military position was weakened by the wars;

After World War I, debt and unemployment led to:

  • The General Strike (1926)
  • The World Economic Depression (1930)

Women started to take on new roles:

  • The Suffragette movement led to women being granted the right to vote;
  • Women enjoyed more freedom, unlike in the Victorian era, when they were generally housebound.

The start of the 20th century marked a dramatic rise in the number of writers and readers;


Modernism is a collective term for several literary orientations, such as Decadence, Expressionism, Imagism, Symbolism, and Post-Impressionism;

Modernism is a reaction against realism and naturalism, which aimed at representing reality as we see it;

Modernism is influenced by:

  • Einstein’s theory of relativity;
  • Freud’s psychological studies;
  • Marx’s political theories.

The modernist novel:

  • Non-chronological, it experiments with the representation of time (temporal juxtapositions, sudden jumps);
  • The modernist narration moves from one level of narration to another without warning; thus, it breaks narrative frames.
  • The modernist narration focuses on the inner world. The plot of events becomes less important than the character’s consciousness, unconsciousness, memory, and perception.
  • Experiments with form and style.


Born in London in a rich family;

Was home-schooled in classics and Victorian literature;

Attended King’s College in London and studied literature;

Suffered from mental breakdowns because of her parents’ deaths;

Founded Hogarth Press with her husband;

Part of interwar London’s artistic society;

Credited for inspiring feminism.


  • “The Voyage Out”
  • “Mrs Dalloway”“
  • To the Lighthouse”
  • “Orlando: A Biography”
  • “The Waves”