Virginia Woolf’s Women
Summer Course, 19–24 July 2020

Wolfson College, Cambridge

Our 2020 Virginia Woolf course will explore Woolf’s Women, looking at some of her fascinating women characters. These include Mrs Dalloway and her daughter; Mrs Ramsay and Lily in To the Lighthouse; plus the intriguing figure of Orlando, who leads us to wonder: What is a woman, to Woolf?

And what about the women in Woolf’s life who were so important to her writing: her mother Julia Stephen, her sister Vanessa Bell; friends such as writer Katherine Mansfield and composer Ethel Smyth; lover Vita Sackville-West; plus scholars such as Jane Harrison and Janet Case?

There will be a rich programme of lectures, seminars, supervisions (tutorials), walks, talks, and visits to places of interest in Cambridge. Our teachers include: Claire Davison, Alison Hennegan, Karina Jakubowicz, Isobel Maddison, Claire Nicholson, Trudi Tate, Claudia Tobin, and Clare Walker Gore.

Marion Dell of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and an expert on Woolf’s family history will give a talk on Julia Stephen.

Course dates: 19 to 24 July 2020. Bookings are open. Discounts for early bookings, for students, CAMcard holders, and members of recognised Woolf Societies. Places are limited.

Morning lectures

• Trudi Tate, Women and Children in To the Lighthouse
Isobel Maddison, Mrs Dalloway and her Daughter
• Karina Jakubowicz, What is a Woman: Orlando
• Alison Hennegan, Women and Education: A Room of One’s Own
• Claire Davison, Between the Acts: Virginia Woolf and Ethel Smyth

• Seminar: Gillian Beer and Trudi Tate on To the Lighthouse (to be confirmed)

Afternoon and evening talks

• Marion Dell on Virginia Woolf’s mother, Julia Stephen
• Claudia Tobin on Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell
• Isobel Maddison on Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield
• Claire Nicholson on the manuscript of A Room of One’s Own


We will visit Girton and Newnham Colleges, the first women’s colleges in Cambridge. In 1928 Woolf gave a talk at both colleges which formed the basis of A Room of One’s Own (1929). We will also visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum to see the manuscript of this influential work. And much more.

Reading list
Set reading

Mrs Dalloway (1925)
To the Lighthouse (1927)
Orlando (1928)
A Room of One’s Own (1929)
Between the Acts (1941)

Optional further reading

Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (biography, 1995)
Susan Sellers, ed., Cambridge Companion to VW (2010)

Further suggestions of reading will be provided for those attending the course.

We also offer a week of study on Reading the 1920s, 26-31 July 2020


Day Trip to Sissinghurst, Sat. 25 July 2020

After the course, there will be an optional day trip by coach to Sissinghurst, home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, now a National Trust property. This is open only to members of the courses. We will arrive back in Cambridge on Saturday evening, so you will probably need to book an extra night’s accommodation at Wolfson. Please book the trip and extra night, if you want these, with your course booking.

Gallery: Photos of Julia Stephen, Vanessa Bell, Katherine Mansfield and Vita Sackville-West. Colour photos are from our 2019 summer courses, taken by Jeremy Peters @JezPete.


Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain.
Sissinghurst, National Trust.
Monk's House, National Trust.
Charleston, National Trust.
Paula Maggio, Blogging Woolf.
Notes on Leonard Woolf.
Newnham College, Cambridge.
Jeanette Winterson on Orlando, Guardian, September 2018.
Margaret Atwood on re-reading To the Lighthouse, Guardian, September 2002.