the Bloomsbury Group

Who Is Afraid of a Woolfian Beast?


In recent years Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) has begun to be perceived as an icon of the LGBTQ movement and is eagerly referred to by both feminist activists and gender transcendence advocates. Although a peculiar upsurge of interest in her life and, to some extent, literary output was stimulated by the success first of Michael Cunningham’s book and subsequently Stephen Daldry’s film ‘The Hours’, it is interesting to note that the writer’s name still remains recognizable only at a phonemic level. The alliterative combination of the two consonants V and W appears to be an attractive, tasty morsel. There is, for instance, a rock band called Virginia Woolf, which, as a matter of fact, has not got much to do with the musicality of her prose. Also, the title of Edward Albee’s play ‘Who Is Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’, having become a popular catchphrase, naturally evokes some scary associations with the character played by Elizabeth Taylor, rather than with Woolf herself. Like Warhol, Woolf was a very complex person. Both her biography and literary output call for different interpretations in different cultural and social contexts.

Born into a Victorian upper-middle-class family, Woolf became a co-founder and a pivotal figure of the Bloomsbury group, a set of intellectuals, writers, and artists who met regularly at the beginning of the 20th century. Their meeting place was the house that belonged to Virginia Woolf and her siblings, situated in the Bloomsbury district of central London, England. The area, famous for such institutions as the British Museum and London University, became a natural setting for the development of a movement which rejected Victorian attitudes and beliefs. Apart from Virginia Woolf, the writer, and her sister Vanessa Bell, the painter, the coterie included such great minds of the epoch as John Maynard Keynes, the economist, Lytton Strachey, the biographer, Edward Morgan Forster, the writer, and Roger Fry, the art critic, to mention just a few.

The project was in three parts. The first two included presentations which were followed by Marek's articles on the Bloomsbury Group.


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