Under the gaze of Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf is one of those literary legends it’s easy to feel you know, thanks to her crisp, taut prose and thoroughly frank diary entries. Now you can get to know the great author in a whole new way, with an exhibition to be held at Britain’s National Portrait Gallery.

Virginia Woolf by Vanessa Bell 1912 © Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy Henrietta Garnett cr National Trust, Charles Thomas

Virginia Woolf by Vanessa Bell 1912 © Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy Henrietta Garnett cr National Trust, Charles Thomas.

Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision will feature painted portraits, photographs, drawings and rare archival material, including a letter from Virginia to her sister, Vanessa Bell, written shortly before her suicide.

Guest curated by biographer Frances Spalding, the exhibition promises to explore Woolf’s many facets, novelist to public figure, intellectual to campaigner, as well as offering vivid glimpses of her private life. Via an array of archival material, including letters to and from her friends and acquaintances, extracts from her personal diaries, and original books that were first printed through the Virginia’s beloved Hogarth Press you’ll get to meander through Woolf’s early life, literary interests and remarkable achievements, absorb her fascination with London, awareness of modernity, and her developing feminist and political views.

Virginia Woolf in an Armchair by Vanessa Bell, 1912 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Virginia Woolf in an Armchair by Vanessa Bell, 1912 © National Portrait Gallery, London

For me, these two portrait of Woolf by her sister seems to offer a glimpse the great writer in a moment’s introversion.

I wholeheartedly intend to find the time to go along, but can’t promise I won’t be pretending to myself that I’m actually spending the afternoon with the literary lady. Wouldn’t it be fab to discover her take on today’s political, feminist and cultural issues?

VIRGINIA WOOLF: ART, LIFE AND VISION runs from 10 July until 26 October 2014 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.