Writer, critic, feminist- Virginia Woolf was many things. Unlike the previous two historical figures, Woolf was not as prominent in the movement for LGBT+ rights, but did publish works portraying her bisexuality in the early 20th century. 50 years ago, we were struggling to establish tolerance in a chauvinistic society – I could not imagine how difficult it must have been to be LGBT+ over 90 years ago.
Virginia Woolf had a turbulent childhood, with many close family members dying whilst she was still young. The devastation caused by these early experiences would go on to shape the mental health of Woolf throughout her life, with her attempting suicide multiple times. However, Woolf went to study classics and history at King’s College London, where she became enthralled by the women’s rights movement. She also began writing; a pastime that helped her grieve for the family she had lost. After Woolf married her husband Leonard, they set up a printing press company that eventually would publish her work. In 1922, Woolf met aristocratic writer Vita Sackville-West and the two began a blossoming affair. I know what you’re thinking, and no I am not condoning having affairs with your spouses – but the fruit of this love story would be the book ‘Orlando’, a story inspired by Woolf’s love for Sackville-West and a historic novel that has inspired research into gender and transgender studies (so know you see why it’s significant!).
Unfortunately, Woolf’s mental illnesses plagued her, with doctors unable to provide adequate treatment for her bipolar disorder (remember, this was back in the day when mental illness was frowned upon). In 1941, Woolf famously died by suicide (and no I am not going to tell you how she did it). We look to brave LGBT+ people as a beacon of hope, and whilst Woolf may not have championed our fight for equality, she did show the world that love between the same sex is as valid as heterosexual love.
Woolf Image Credit 📷: George Charles Bereford @ wikipedia
Featured Image Credit 📷: Delia Giandeini