Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision

Past exhibition archive
10 July - 26 October 2014

★★★★ 'Hugely enjoyable' The Times
★★★★ 'Invigorating' Evening Standard 
'A fascinating exhibition' Zoe Pilger, The Independent

Virginia Woolf was one of the most important and celebrated writers of the twentieth century. This extensive exhibition of portraits and rare archival material explored her life and achievements as a novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure.

Curated by biographer and art historian Frances Spalding, the exhibition included distinctive portraits of Woolf by her Bloomsbury Group contemporaries Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry and photographs by Beresford and Man Ray, as well as intimate images recording her time spent with friends and family. Woolf’s early life and literary achievements, alongside lesser known aspects of her time in London and political views, were brought into focus through in-depth research and a remarkable array of personal objects including letters, diaries and books. 

Supported by the Virginia Woolf Exhibition Supporters Group and The T.S. Eliot Estate

Virginia Woolf by Vanessa Bell c. 1912 Monks House, Rodmell, The Virginia & Leonard Woolf Collection (National Trust) © Estate of Vanessa Bell, courtesy Henrietta Garnett. Photo © National Trust / Charles Thomas

Audio Tour

Curator Frances Spalding introduces the key themes of the exhibition in this room-by-room audio guide.


Explore the key events in the lives of Virginia Woolf and her circle with our illustrated timeline.

The information in this timeline is taken from the Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision exhibition catalogue by Frances Spalding, which is available to purchase online.


Society hostess Lady Ottoline Morrell took an avid interest in photography. Her photograph albums offer a fascinating record of guests at her homes in London and Garsington, Oxfordshire. After her visit in May 1923, Virginia Woolf wrote, ‘is the sunlight ever normal at Garsington? No I think even the sky is done up in pale yellow silk, and certainly the cabbages are scented’.

Many photographs shown record the occasion when Virginia Woolf wore the dress designed by Parisian couturier Nicole Grout, and commissioned for her by Madge Garland, Vogue fashion editor. It consisted of a patterned two-piece dress and a long silk coat lined with the same pattern.

Blog: A Room of One's Own

The exhibition was accompanied by a competition, asking entrants to share how they were inspired by Virginia Woolf and share ‘a room of one’s own’. See the submissions on this blog.