EYE CANDY

Virginia Woolf’s Little-Seen Photography, Her Long Lost Great Pursuit, Has Finally Been Brought to Light

Since she drowned herself in 1941, Virginia Woolf has enjoyed something of a cult fandom, beloved for her essays and novels and inspiring everything from, say, a Burberry campaign to award-winning contemporary novelists who still keep her diary handy on their bedside tables. But much like how Sylvia Plath has been celebrated since her suicide in 1963, the appreciation for Woolf has also often reduced her to that of a glamorously tortured literary figure; Plath, for example, is most remembered for The Bell Jar, but it was only after she’d achieved little success as an illustrator at The New Yorker that she turned to writing as her full-time pursuit. Woolf, too, had a little-known artistic passion: Just like her great aunt, the pioneering photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, Woolf nurtured a longtime interest in photography, which has further come to light since Harvard University digitized her photo albums. Aside from showcasing the full extent of her artistry, they also allow a rare glimpse into Woolf’s personal, everyday life. It could seem strikingly quotidian at times—from keeping company with her beloved dogs to hosting get-togethers with friends—but as Woolf showed us in To the Lighthouse, there’s so much extraordinary to be found in the ordinary. Take a look inside one of the photo albums she kept from 1890 until her death, here.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

A photograph from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

A photograph of Leonard Woolf from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

A photograph from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

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Courtesy of the Harvard Library

Photographs from Virginia Woolf’s Monk House album, 1890-1947, now at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.