Famous Valentines: Quotes about Virginia Woolf by her husband Leonard Woolf

Virginia Woolf, a prototypical Blank Canvas Thinker, and self proclaimed “explorer” from birth, found in her husband, Leonard, a patient motivator who loved her with an understanding and forgiveness that speaks of a joining of two souls on a level beyond most modern concepts of marriage. While Virginia innovated the novel form with stream of consciousness and progressive female-centric values, Leonard set up Hogarth press in their Richmond house, both to publish his wife’s work and as a way to finance her literary explorations. When the interviewer in this wonderful youtube snippit asks Leonard why he stopped writing his own fiction, Leonard replies in what may sound to some a simple practicality; but coming from a man worthy of mental partnership with one of the most creative intellectuals of the 20th century, his answer, “one of us had to give it up,” (delivered surprisingly matter-of-fact) is heart-wrenchingly poetic.

On his wife’s genius…
“She had a combination of imagination and intelligence which is extremely rare, I think.”

On his wife’s magic…
“Every now and then, she would do what I call ‘leave the ground’ and give the most fantastic account of a perfectly ordinary thing which had happened or which she’d seen.”

On his wife being (occasionally) the object of ridicule…
“She dressed, I think, very beautifully, but rather unlike most people – and walked about in this curious way.”

Many scholars consider Virginia’s 1941 river suicide a sacrifice for love, to save Leonard from further anguish. But why don’t they understand – why didn’t Virginia understand – that any man who would chose to put on hold the chance at his own greatness for the woman who needed all of him, would have (with that same matter-of-fact grace) spent the last of his strength dragging her back up on to shore. For his true greatness will always be in helping his wife endure hers.

4 thoughts on “Famous Valentines: Quotes about Virginia Woolf by her husband Leonard Woolf

  1. you speak beautifully Cymbria, to love, devotion, and willingness to be witness to another’s journey….what becomes a shared journey….she left him at the river bank, without your imagination or compassion to recognize the gift love offers…..

  2. Thank you Lynn~ If only we knew how far our loves would carry us…. Life can so easily become a competition. I love the idea of being a “witness to another’s journey”, which is really the only way to make it a shared experience. But you’re such a tease! Your eloquence got me all hot and bothered (in a literary sense) I kept wanting your dots to lead to something more… (in a literary sense!! darn holiday sneaks innuendo into everything!)

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