Woolf, Leonard

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Woolf, Leonard

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1880-1969

History

Leonard Woolf was a writer, editor and book publisher who was also active politically. He was born in London in 1880, the third of ten children of Solomon Rees Sydney and Marie Woolf. After earning a Cambridge B.A. (1902) he served in the civil service in Ceylon, before returning to England and marrying Virginia Stephen in 1912. From that point on the Bloomsbury Group, which traced its roots to Woolf’s days at Cambridge, and included Clive Bell, John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey, began to emerge as an artistic and intellectual force. In 1913 Woolf published his first novel, The Village and the Jungle.

During World War I Woolf was a pacifist who became heavily involved in political and social issues; an activity that would carry on after the War. To provide a hobby for Virginia – who was suffering from manic depression – Woolf launched the Hogarth Press in 1917. After initially publishing small books by friends such as T.S. Eliot , E.M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield, it evolved into a prestigious publishing house; its titles included Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and Eliot’s The Waste Land. Woolf continued to work as the Hogarth director after Virginia’s suicide in 1941, until his death in 1969.

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Victoria University Library - Special Collections

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