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Leonard Woolf

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Leonard Woolf



Leonard Woolf Leonard Woolf A Biography By Victoria Glendinning Books
Full Name
Leonard Sidney Woolf

25 November 1880 (
Kensington, London, England, United Kingdom

Political theorist, author, publisher and civil servant

August 14, 1969, Rodmell, United Kingdom

Virginia Woolf (m. 1912–1941)

The Village in the Jungle, Stories of the East, Beginning again, The journey not the arrival, Downhill all the way

Similar People
Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Duncan Grant

Leonard woolf speaks to camera about economist john maynard keynes

Leonard Sidney Woolf (/ˈwʊlf/; 25 November 1880 – 14 August 1969) was an English political theorist, author, publisher and civil servant, and husband of author Virginia Woolf.


Leonard Woolf 1 May 1912 Virginia Stephen Woolf to Leonard Woolf

The home of virginia and leonard woolf in rodmell film by ann perrin

Early life

Woolf was born in London, the third of ten children of Solomon Rees Sidney Woolf (known as Sidney Woolf), a barrister and Queen's Counsel, and Marie (nee de Jongh). His family was Jewish. After his father died in 1892 Woolf was sent to board at Arlington House School near Brighton, Sussex. From 1894 to 1899 he attended St Paul's School, and in 1899 he won a classical scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected to the Cambridge Apostles. Other members included Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, GE Moore and EM Forster. Thoby Stephen, Virginia Stephen's brother, was friendly with the Apostles, though not a member himself. Woolf was awarded his BA in 1902, but stayed for another year to study for the Civil Service examinations.

Leonard Woolf TUwoolf2jpg

In October 1904 Woolf moved to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to become a cadet in the Ceylon Civil Service, in Jaffna and later Kandy, and by August 1908 was named an assistant government agent in the Southern Province, where he administered the District of Hambantota. Woolf returned to England in May 1911 for a year's leave. Instead, however, he resigned in early 1912 and that same year married Virginia Stephen (Virginia Woolf).

Together Leonard and Virginia Woolf became influential in the Bloomsbury group, which also included various other former Apostles.

Leonard Woolf Virginia Woolf and Her Husband Leonard Woolf

In December 1917 Woolf became one of the co-founders of the 1917 Club, which met in Gerrard Street, Soho.


After marriage, Woolf turned his hand to writing and in 1913 published his first novel, The Village in the Jungle, which is based on his years in Sri Lanka. A series of books followed at roughly two-yearly intervals.

Leonard Woolf Kimberly Eve Musings of a Writer Reminiscences of Leonard

On the introduction of conscription in 1916, during the First World War, Woolf was rejected for military service on medical grounds, and turned to politics and sociology. He joined the Labour Party and the Fabian Society, and became a regular contributor to the New Statesman. In 1916 he wrote International Government, proposing an international agency to enforce world peace.

As his wife's mental health worsened, Woolf devoted much of his time to caring for her (he himself suffered from depression). In 1917 the Woolfs bought a small hand-operated printing press and with it they founded the Hogarth Press. Their first project was a pamphlet, hand-printed and bound by themselves. Within ten years the Press had become a full-scale publishing house, issuing Virginia's novels, Leonard's tracts and, among other works, the first edition of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. Woolf continued as the main director of the Press until his death. His wife suffered from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life, until her suicide by drowning in 1941. Later Leonard fell in love with a married artist, Trekkie Parsons.

In 1919 Woolf became editor of the International Review. He also edited the international section of the Contemporary Review from 1920 to 1922. He was literary editor of The Nation and Atheneum, generally referred to simply as The Nation, from 1923 to 1930), and joint founder and editor of The Political Quarterly from 1931 to 1959), and for a time he served as secretary of the Labour Party's advisory committees on international and colonial questions.

In 1960 Woolf revisited Sri Lanka and was surprised at the warmth of the welcome he received, and even the fact that he was still remembered. Woolf accepted an honorary doctorate from the then-new University of Sussex in 1964 and in 1965 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He declined the offer of CH in the Queen's Birthday honours list in 1966.[1]


Among his nine siblings, Bella Woolf was also an author.


Woolf died on 14 August 1969 from a stroke. He was cremated and his ashes were buried alongside his wife's beneath an elm tree in his beloved garden at Monk's House, Rodmell, Sussex. The tree subsequently blew down and Woolf's remains have since been marked by a bronze bust.

His papers are held by the University of Sussex at Falmer.


  • The Village in the Jungle – 1913
  • The Wise Virgins – 1914 (Republished in 2003 by Persephone Books)
  • International Government – 1916
  • The Future of Constantinople – 1917
  • The Framework of a Lasting Peace - 1917
  • Cooperation and the Future of Industry – 1918
  • Economic Imperialism – 1920
  • Empire and Commerce in Africa – 1920
  • Socialism and Co-operation – 1921
  • International co-operative trade – 1922
  • Fear and Politics – 1925
  • Essays on Literature, History, Politics – 1927
  • Hunting the Highbrow – 1927
  • Imperialism and Civilization – 1928
  • After the Deluge (Principia Politica), 3 vols. – 1931, 1939, 1953
  • Quack! Quack! – 1935
  • Barbarians at the Gate – 1939
  • The War for Peace – 1940
  • A Calendar of Consolation – selected by Leonard Woolf, 1967
  • Autobiographical works

  • Woolf, Leonard (1960). Sowing: an autobiography of the years, 1880–1904. London: Hogarth Press. OCLC 185524636.  Published in America as Woolf, Leonard (1960). Sowing: an autobiography of the years, 1880–1904 (1st American ed.). New York: Harcourt, Brace. ISBN 978-0-15-683945-7. OCLC 1346957.  Also OCLC 1339821.
  • Woolf, Leonard (1961). Growing: an autobiography of the years 1904–1911 (1st American ed.). New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. OCLC 494500.  Also OCLC 21246847 (1977), OCLC 67527334 (1967).
  • Woolf, Leonard (1963). Diaries in Ceylon, 1908–1911, and Stories from the East: records of a colonial administrator. London: Hogarth Press. OCLC 30240642.  Also OCLC 4194108
  • Woolf, Leonard (1964). Beginning again: an autobiography of the years 1911–1918. London: Hogarth Press. ISBN 978-0-7012-0250-7. OCLC 186031278.  Published in America as Woolf, Leonard (1964). Beginning again: an autobiography of the years 1911–1918 (1st American ed.). New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. OCLC 264298. 
  • Woolf, Leonard (1967). Downhill all the way: an autobiography of the years 1919–1939 (1st American ed.). New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. OCLC 1065888. 
  • Woolf, Leonard (1969). The journey not the arrival matters: an autobiography of the years 1939–1969. London: Hogarth Press. ISBN 978-0-7012-0326-9. OCLC 186031338.  Published in America as Woolf, Leonard (1969). The journey not the arrival matters: an autobiography of the years 1939–1969 (1st American ed.). New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. OCLC 58615. 
  • Biographical works on Woolf

  • Glendinning, Victoria (2006). Leonard Woolf: a biography. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-7432-4653-8. OCLC 71779088. 
  • Edited excerpt of book available at Glendinning, Victoria (26 August 2006). "A fresh spirit". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  • Review of book with details about Leonard Woolf available at Gross, John (December 2006). "Mr. Virginia Woolf". Commentary. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  • References

    Leonard Woolf Wikipedia

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