Moments of Being: Unpublished Autobiographical Writings
Virginia Woolf

Edited and with an introduction and notes by Jeanne Schulkind.
New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976

'Moments of Being' cover

In Woolf’s autobiographical writing, the truth about her childhood is revealed. After her mother and half-sister died, Virginia and her older sister Vanessa were expected to preside over the family tea table at 22 Hyde Park Gate in London. Vanessa was the first to rebel against this inherited role—part slave, part angel. Instead she attended the Slade School of Fine Art and cultivated a deep inner life, which Virginia describes in her memoir:

"what was inside Vanessa did not altogether correspond with what was outside. Underneath the necklaces and the enamel butterflies was one passionate desire—for paint and turpentine, for turpentine and paint."

Virginia was not as successful in thwarting her family’s expectations and her half brother’s sexual advances. She concludes the memoir by saying: “George Duckworth was not only father and mother, brother and sister to those poor Stephen girls; he was their lover also.”

Frances Hooper Collection of Virginia Woolf
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

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