Virginia Woolf’s diary has been called “a high point in English diary keeping”; in fact, it is one of the great diaries of the world. Her diary is her longest, her longest-sustained, and last work to reach the public. Becoming Virginia Woolf reveals Woolf’s development as a diarist and her place among, and legacy to, the worldwide community of diarists she so greatly valued and admired. Diaries are still “terra incognita,” French diary theorist Philippe Lejeune noted in 2004—a fact (this book argues) that made the diary particularly attractive to Woolf. Becoming Virginia Woolf challenges several long-standing views of Woolf diary: it suggests that Woolf first articulates her aesthetic at age 17 (not 25); it offers a more nuanced reading of Woolf’s newly found 1909 diary, which has been treated as bitter and even as anti-Semitic; and it argues that Woolf’s diary-writing breaks into three stages—not two (the current view). A final new insight the book reveals is the crucial role of other diaries in Woolf’s creative life. Women’s diaries, the book reveals, greatly assisted Woolf’s own writing path. Woolf herself creates a diary more structurally experimental than any of the diaries she read.
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