Right now, you can buy the entire collection for only £20!

Home Collections Donate Contact About FAQ Search

50 Quotes from Virginia Woolf


Virginia Woolf

50 brilliant quotes from Virginia Woolf - one of the foremost modernist authors of the 20th century; slightly anti-semitic despite being married to a Jewish guy; and who eventually killed herself after suffering years of mental illness.

1. “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”

2. “Life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”

3. “We may enjoy our room in the tower, with the painted walls and the commodious bookcases, but down in the garden there is a man digging who buried his father this morning, and it is he and his like who live the real life and speak the real language.”

4. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

5. “Why are women so much more interesting to men than men are to women?”

6. “Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”

7. “My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery –always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?”

8. “One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them.”

9. “Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it. It is our business to puncture gas bags and discover the seeds of truth.”

10. “Life for both sexes is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. More than anything… it calls for confidence in oneself…And how can we generate this imponderable quality most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself.”

11. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

12. “The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”

13. “On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.”

14. “We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods.”

15. “The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.”

16. “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

17. “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

18. “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”

19. “Books are the mirrors of the soul.”

20. “I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”

21. “When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much, do they?”

22. “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

23. “These are the soul’s changes. I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism.”

24. “A woman knows very well that, though a wit sends her his poems, praises her judgment, solicits her criticism, and drinks her tea, this by no means signifies that he respects her opinions, admires her understanding, or will refuse, though the rapier is denied him, to run through the body with his pen.”

25. “Humor is the first gift to perish in a foreign language.”

26. “The older one grows, the more one likes indecency.”

27. “At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.”

28. “It is no use trying to sum people up. One must follow hints, not exactly what is said, nor yet entirely what is done.”

29. “Those comfortably padded lunatic asylums which are known, euphemistically, as the stately homes of England.”

30. “Arrange whatever pieces come your way.”

31. “This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us. If one has the courage to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say.”

32. “If you insist upon fighting to protect me, or ”our” country, let it be understood soberly and rationally between us that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share.”

33. “When the shriveled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning, it satisfies the senses amazingly.”

34. “If one could be friendly with women, what a pleasure — the relationship so secret and private compared with relations with men. Why not write about it truthfully?”

35. “I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.”

36. “Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.”

37. “Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!”

38. “Nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.”

39. “Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.”

40. “As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.”

41. “I am rooted, but I flow.”

42. “I have lost friends, some by death…others by sheer inability to cross the street.”

43. “To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face, and to know it for what it is…at last, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away…”

44. “The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.”

45. “This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room.”

46. “Have you any notion how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe?”

47. “Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded.”

48. “Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us.”

49. “I will not be “famous,” “great.” I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped. The thing is to free one’s self: to let it find its dimensions, not be impeded.”

50. “It might be possible that the world itself is without meaning.”

You can download some free Virginia Woolf ebooks, here.


⇧ Back to top

zen monkey