Interactive Family History

Father’s birthday. He would have been…96, yes, today; & could have been 96, like other people one has known; but mercifully was not. His life would have entirely ended mine. What would have happened? No writing, no books;--inconceivable. I used to think of him & mother daily; but writing The Lighthouse, laid them in my mind. And how he comes back sometimes, but differently… He comes back now more as a contemporary…I must read him someday." *

Woolf’s father, Leslie Stephen, has been described as depressed, explosive, and burdened by guilt. He was also said to be enchanting and loving, a mountain climbing, eloquent writer who opened his literary world to Woolf. These fluctuating states are consistent with cyclothymia, a mood disorder similar to, but less potent than bipolar disorder, marked by emotional shifts from depression to excitement. (Caramagno, 1992). Woolf felt that her father’s mercurial disposition had a critical impact on her life. In fact, bipolar disorder and its variants such as cyclothymia, have a strong hereditary component impacting the emotional, social, and biological well-being of all descendents who suffer from these disorders. Our interactive family history will allow users to explore the potential hereditary patterns of emotional illness in Woolf’s family .




Leslie Stephen's Photograph Album

___References for this Section____

Caramagno, T. (1992). The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf’s Art and Manic-Depressive Illness. Berkeley: University of California Press.

* Woolf, V. (1982). A Writer’s Diary: Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia Woolf. (L. Woolf. Ed.) San Diego: Harvest Book, Harcourt Inc.