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The Hours - VIRGINIA WOOLF'S SUICIDE

Leonard and Virginia purchased a country house, in 1919, in the village of Rodmell, England. It was named Monk's House, although no monks ever lived there. Virginia wrote Jacob's Room (in memory of her brother Thoby) at Monk's House. A map, annotated by Leonard, depicts its location.

By the time Virginia was fifty-nine years old, bouts of mental illness had damaged her outward beauty and her inner well-being. Having suffered mental breakdowns during World War I, she was once again living in the nightmare of war. She could no longer travel and her home in London was destroyed by Germany's bombs.

In March of 1941, Leonard became increasingly concerned about his wife's mental health. He summoned a friend, Octavia Wilberforce, to examine her. The doctor did not find the situation particularly serious. Later, Wilberforce thought she had failed her friend by not recognizing the extent of Virginia's illness.

With Hitler's Blitzkrieg hammering her beloved London, and with headaches and "voices" returning to disrupt her writing (this is her desk in her writing lodge) and her life, Virginia wrote two suicide notes. One was for her husband, Leonard. The other, nearly identical, was for Vanessa.

Following the footpath to the nearby River Ouse (from the Celtic word for "water" and pictured here at Lewes), Virginia walked away from the home she shared with Leonard at Monk's House. It was the 28th of March, 1941. She put a heavy stone in her coat pocket and let the river's current swallow her. Children found her body three weeks later, on the 18th of April.

Following an inquest into her death, which was ruled a suicide, Virginia's body was cremated. Her ashes were scattered under the elm tree just beyond her garden. Her last novel, Between the Acts, was published posthumously. Leonard lived at Monk's House until his death in 1969.

Virginia's nephew, Quentin Bell, wrote what most Woolf scholars agree is the definitive biography of his famous aunt. (During the clip of a video interview, Vanessa's son talks about the research for his book.) Quentin died in 1996.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Jun 13, 2017


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