Quotations From VIRGINIA WOOLF


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  • This is not "writing" at all. Indeed, I could say that Shakespeare surpasses literature altogether, if I knew what I meant.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol. 3, entry for April 13, 1930, ed. Anne O. Bell (1980).
  • Where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. Orlando, ch. 4 (1928).

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  • There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us, and not we, them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. Orlando, ch. 4 (1928).
  • Most of a modest woman's life was spent, after all, in denying what, in one day at least of every year, was made obvious.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. Orlando, ch. 6 (1928). On pregnancy in Victorian times.

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  • Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. Orlando, ch. 4 (1928).

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  • The beauty of the world ... has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. A Room of One's Own, ch. 1 (1929).

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  • Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death ... others through sheer inability to cross the street.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. Bernard, in The Waves, p. 132 (1931, repr. 1943).

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  • When the shrivelled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning, it satisfies the senses amazingly.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. Orlando, ch. 6 (1928).
  • You send a boy to school in order to make friends—the right sort.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol. 2, entry for Nov. 16, 1921, ed. Anne O. Bell (1978). Woolf was here quoting the reaction of Maurice Baring and his wife to Lady Cromer sending her son to Winchester, which was not considered elite enough.

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  • At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.
    Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol. 3, entry for March 22, 1928, ed. Anne O. Bell (1980).

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