Barbara Lounsberry – Becoming Virginia Woolf: Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read

Barbara Lounsberry, Becoming Virginia Woolf: Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read. University Press of Florida, July 2014, 272 pages, ISBN 9780813049915

Encompassing thirty-eight handwritten volumes, Virginia Woolf’s diary is her lengthiest and longest-sustained work—and her last to reach the public. In the only full-length book to explore deeply this luminous and boundary-stretching masterpiece, Barbara Lounsberry traces Woolf’s development as a writer through her first twelve diaries—a fascinating experimental stage, where the earliest hints of Woolf’s pioneering modernist style can be seen. Starting with fourteen-year-old Woolf’s first palm-sized leather diary, « Becoming Virginia Woolf » illuminates how her private and public writing was shaped by the diaries of other writers including Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, the French Goncourt brothers, Mary Coleridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Woolf’s « diary parents »—Sir Walter Scott and Fanny Burney. These key literary connections open a new and indispensable window onto the story of one of literature’s most renowned modernists.

Barbara Lounsberry is professor emerita of English at the University of Northern Iowa. She is the author of The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction and coeditor of Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Literature of Reality.