A party of English people are aboard the Euphrosyne, bound for South America. Among them is Rachel Vinrace, a young girl, innocent and wholly ignorant of the world of politics and society, books, sex, love and marriage. She is a free spirit half-caught, momentarily and passionately, by Terence Hewet, an aspiring writer who she meets in Santa Marina. But their engagement is to end abruptly, and tragically. Virginia Woolf's first novel, published in 1915, is a haunting exploration of a young woman's mind, signalling the beginning of her fascination with capturing the mysteries and complexities of the inner life.
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Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is now recognized as a major twentieth-century author, a great novelist and essayist and a key figure in literary history as a feminist and a modernist. Her first novel,
The Voyage Out, appeared in 1915, and she then worked through the transitional
Night and Day (1919) to the highly experimental and impressionistic
Jacob's Room (1922). From then on her fiction became a series of brilliant and extraordinarily varied experiments, each one searching for a fresh way of presenting the relationship between individual lives and the forces of society and history. She was particularly concerned with women's experience, not only in her novels but also in her essays and her two books of feminist polemic,
A Room of One's Own (1929) and
Three Guineas (1938). Her major novels include
Mrs Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy
Orlando (1928), written for Vita Sackville-West, the extraordinarily poetic vision of
The Waves (1931), the family saga of
The Years (1937), and
Between the Acts (1941). All these are published by Penguin, as are her Diaries, Volumes I-V, and selections from her essays and short stories.