Virginia Woolf in Cambridge

Cambridge is a great place to study Virginia Woolf. Though she did not study here, Woolf had strong Cambridge connections. Her father, Leslie Stephen, was a student then a bye-fellow of Trinity Hall, 1850–1863, before his first marriage. (See the Dictionary of National Biography, of which Leslie Stephen was the first editor, for details of his life.)

Woolf herself visited Cambridge quite often. Her brothers were students at Trinity College, as were Leonard Woolf and Clive Bell. She visited Rupert Brooke at Grantchester in 1911. In the 1920s, she gave lectures at Girton and Newnham Colleges, which evolved into A Room of One’s Own (1929). She knew many Cambridge academics – Bertrand Russell, Henry Sidgwick, John Maynard Keynes, G. E. Moore, Jane Harrison, E. M. Forster, and others, and was keenly engaged with the intellectual discussions of the day.

Students on the Virginia Woolf in Cambridge course will visit colleges with Woolf connections and explore some of the issues which faced intellectual women in universities – and out of them – in the 1920s. We will take a walk across the fields to visit the village of Grantchester, and take tea in the Orchard Tea Rooms.

See Anna Bogen's essay on Woolf's interest in Cambridge: 'Mapping the Ghostly City: Cambridge, A Room of One's Own and the University Novel,' in Virginia Woolf's Bloomsbury, vol. 1, Aesthetic Theory and Literary Practice, ed. Gina Potts and Lisa Shahriari (Palgrave, 2010).