Virginia Woolf's Modernist Path:
Her Middle Diaries and the Diaries She Read

Barbara Lounsberry

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"Lounsberry is the only scholar to treat Woolf 's diaries for themselves--as works of art, as expressions of her private self, and as testing grounds for her experiments in novel writing."--Panthea Reid, author of Art and Affection: A Life of Virginia Woolf

"Offers a fascinating alternative form of biography. Lounsberry is particularly skillful in combining close attention to and interpretation of the details of Woolf 's diary with a fluent sense of her life being lived across the years."--Mark Hussey, author of Virginia Woolf A to Z: A Comprehensive Reference for Students, Teachers, and Common Readers to Her Life, Work, and Critical Reception

In this second volume of her acclaimed study of Virginia Woolf 's diaries, Barbara Lounsberry traces the English writer's life through the thirteen diaries she kept from 1918 to 1929--what is often considered Woolf’s modernist "golden age." During these interwar years, Woolf penned many of her most famous works, including Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and A Room of One's Own. Lounsberry shows how Woolf's writing at this time was influenced by other diarists--Anton Chekhov, Katherine Mansfield, Jonathan Swift, and Stendhal among them--and how she continued to use her diaries as a way to experiment with form and as a practice ground for her evolving modernist style.

Through close readings of Woolf 's journaling style and an examination of the diaries she read, Lounsberry tracks Woolf 's development as a writer and unearths new connections between her professional writing, personal writing, and the diaries she was reading at the time. Virginia Woolf's Modernist Path offers a new approach to Woolf 's biography: her life as she marked it in her diary from ages 36 to 46.


Barbara Lounsberry is professor emerita of English at the University of Northern Iowa. She is the author of Becoming Virginia Woolf: Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read and The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction and is coeditor of Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Literature of Reality.
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Rarely is a study such as this so delicious to read. . . . [It] is a treasure, the well-wrought sentences gems to be turned over and over in the mind, each facet cause for lengthy contemplation, from details on Woolf’s writing life, her experiments, and her use of the form of the diary to work out ideas for her fiction as well as support her writing psyche. UNIversitas

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this volume is a love letter for all scholars of Woolf and modernism, and for neophytes interested in the aegis of Woolf’s distinctive style. . . . Essential. Choice

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