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Leonard Woolf: A Biography

by Victoria Glendinning

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2135100,801 (4.1)15
Being a prominent member of the Bloomsbury group, Leonard Woolf was a formidable figure in his own right, first as a civil administrator in Ceylon, then as a writer, leading light of the Fabian society and publisher of T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Robert Graves, Katherine Mansfield and of course Virginia Woolf.… (more)
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A balanced and well researched biography. Glendinning paints a portrait of Leonard Woolf in which he comes to life in his own right. He was the husband of Victoria Woolf and as such he played an important role as her soul mate and caretaker. He had friends in the Bloomsbury group. But he was also an intellectual, and an original thinker. Member of the Labor party, owner of the Hogarth Press. Very interesting also, are his experiences as a colonial administrator in Ceylon and his interest in the people there. Glendinning gives also a lot of information of the broader society context in which the experiences of Woolf can be placed ( )
  timswings | Sep 5, 2011 |
Brilliant; reveals him in a completely new light.
  sjohnsonauthor | Jan 3, 2009 |
A new picture of the husband of the fanous Virigina Woolff and his important role he played in her life ( )
  AnneliM | Dec 28, 2008 |
I really felt I got a sense of Leonard from this biography. I had known very little about him before, he had been a shadow behind his wife or his other literary friends, but here was the man who loved so many extraordinary people in all the ways that love exists. A quiet man of wisdom if not great intellect himself, but a great appreciator and a knowledgeable man about people, about life and about peoples needs I think. Accessible and kind, attractive on the whole to all those who met him it would seem.

ETA: since reading this biography, I would retract the comment of not being a man of great intellect, having now read his three volumes about international affairs. Certainly the first two volumes of 'The Deluge' have much validity still, and deserve being brought back into print. ( )
1 vote Caroline_McElwee | Oct 8, 2008 |
You’d think maybe not much more could be written about Virginia Woolf and the group of early 20th century artists and intellectuals knows as Bloomsbury set? Wrong. Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Leonard Woolf brings to life a forgotten link in all this. Leonard Woolf was remarkable man, an author, publisher (the Hogarth Press), active in political and foreign affairs.

The Woolf family were Jews who came to the UK in the early 19th Century at a time of growing tolerance, when racial laws were changing, unlike other parts of Europe.

Interesting to me was his early life at Cambridge, where he was a member of The Apostles and met the leading light of the time. Later he some years spent in the civil service in Ceylon. He gave up this careers and returned to England and married Virginia. VW’s mental illness meant their life was difficult and if it had not been for LW’s devotion and care VW would probably not have lived long enough to write her masterpieces. This has been speculated upon by others and seems to be true. He comes across as a ‘man for all seasons’, an urbane, cultivated man, ahead of his time in political and social attitudes.

His own writing included columns for the New Statesman and The Nation. He wrote also on subjects as far ranging as life in early 20th century colonial Ceylon and various political works and a 5 volume autobiography. LW lived a full, long life for another 28 years after VW’s death.

Thanks to LW a vast amount of Virginia’s diaries and letters were preserved and spawned a veritable industry of Bloomsbury research. VW had wanted them all destroyed
1 vote jmcgross | Dec 8, 2007 |
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Being a prominent member of the Bloomsbury group, Leonard Woolf was a formidable figure in his own right, first as a civil administrator in Ceylon, then as a writer, leading light of the Fabian society and publisher of T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Robert Graves, Katherine Mansfield and of course Virginia Woolf.

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