Virginia Woolf’s Living Family Members

Virginia Woolf came from a large family and still has many family members living today.

Even though Virginia and Leonard Woolf never had children, their siblings had many who have since carried on the family tradition of art, writing and creativity. Fortunately, the spirit of the Bloomsbury Group still lives on through these children.

Virginia Woolf’s Family

Virginia Woolf was originally born Virginia Stephen in London in 1882. She had three full siblings and four half-siblings:

Full Siblings:
Vanessa Stephen (1879-1961)
Adrian Stephen (1883-1948)
Thoby Stephen (1880-1906)

Gerald Duckworth, Virginia Woolf, Thoby Stephen, Vanessa Bell, George Duckworth, Julia Jackson Stephen, Sir Leslie Stephen and Adrian Stephen at Alenhoe, Wimbledon, circa 1892

Gerald Duckworth, Virginia Woolf, Thoby Stephen, Vanessa Stephen, and George Duckworth (back row); Adrian Stephen, Julia Duckworth Stephen, and Leslie Stephen (front row) at Alenhoe, Wimbledon in 1892

Laura Makepeace Stephen (1870-1945)
Stella Duckworth (1869-1897)
Gerald Duckworth (1870-1937)
George Duckworth (1868-1934)

Most of Virginia’s relatives still live in England and many of them are located in London. The following is a list of Virginia’s living relatives and family members.

Virginia Woolf’s Living Family Members:

Anne Olivier Bell
Anne Olivier Bell is the widow of Quentin Bell. Quentin was the son of Vanessa Stephen and Clive Bell. Anne was the editor of Virginia Woolf’s diaries and was featured in the news in 2013 when it was revealed that she was one of the only female members of the British Monument’s Men team.

Julian Bell
Julian Bell is the son of Quentin Bell and Anne Olivier Bell and the grandson of Vanessa Stephen and Clive Bell. He is named after his uncle, who died in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Julian is an artist and writer living in Lewes, England.
Official website:

Virginia Nicholson
Virginia Nicholson is the daughter of Quentin Bell and Anne Olivier Bell and the granddaughter of Vanessa Stephen and Clive Bell. She is a writer who writes primarily about women’s history. Virginia lives in Sussex, England.
Official website:

Cressida Bell
Cressida Bell is the daughter of Quentin Bell and Anne Olivier Bell and the granddaughter of Vanessa Stephen and Clive Bell. She is an artist living in London.
Official website:

Emma Woolf
Emma Woolf is the daughter of Leonard Woolf’s nephew, Cecil Woolf, and is Virginia Woolf’s great-niece by marriage. She is a writer living in London.
Official Website:
Twitter: @ejwoolf

Henrietta Garnett
Henrietta Garnett is the daughter of Angelica Bell and David Garnett and the granddaughter of Vanessa Stephen and Duncan Grant. She is a writer living in London.
Official website:

Virginia Woolf’s Deceased Family Members:

Angelica Bell Garnett (1918-2012)
Angelica was the daughter of Vanessa Stephen and Duncan Grant (Angelica was given the surname of Vanessa’s husband.) Angelica was an artist and writer who later married Bloomsbury Group member, David Garnett, in 1942.

Her most notable work was her memoir “Deceived With Kindness: a Bloomsbury Childhood” which the New York Times called “..a self-reflexive, self-congratulatory milieu in which art was all, sex was the coin of the realm and the only real transgression was the unpardonable sin of being ordinary.”

In 2010, Angelica granted an interview with the Guardian during which she gushed over her aunt, Virginia Woolf, and dispelled the myth that Virginia was melancholy and aloof:

“I was very fond of her and she was a very charming and delightful aunt to have. Most people seem to think she was somebody who was always on the edge of a nervous breakdown, but she wasn’t. She was enormous fun.”

Angelica had four daughters with David Garnett: Amaryllis, Nerissa, Frances and Henrietta.

Amaryllis Garnett (1943-1973)
Amaryllis was the daughter of Angelica Bell and David Garnett. She died in 1973 of a suspected suicide when she drowned in the Thames. Amaryllis was an actress and starred in the 1971 movie, The Go-Between, and an episode of the ITV Play of the Week, titled “A Choice of Kings,” in 1966.

Nerissa Garnett (died in 2004)
Nerrisa was the daughter of Angelica Bell and David Garnett. Not much is known about her life. She died of a brain tumor in 2004.

Julian Bell (1908-1937)
Julian was the son of Vanessa Stephen and Clive Bell. He was killed in the Spanish Civil War. Julian was a poet who had published two volumes of poems before his death, titled Winter Movement and Work for the Winter.

Quentin Bell (1910-1996)
Quentin was the son of Vanessa Stephen and Clive Bell. Quentin was a teacher, author and editor. His most notable work was the biography of his aunt Virginia, titled “Virginia Woolf: a Biography,” published in 1972.

Vanessa Stephen (1879-1961)
Vanessa was the daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Jackson. She was a painter and a member of the Bloomsbury Group.

Thoby Stephen (1880-1906)
Thoby was the son of Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Jackson. He died of Typhoid after a trip to Greece in 1906.

Adrian Stephen (1883-1948)
Adrian was the son of Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Jackson. He was an author, psychoanalyst and member of the Bloomsbury Group.

Stella Duckworth (1869-1897)
Stella was the daughter of Herbert Duckworth and Julia Jackson. She died in 1897 of peritonitis after having an appendectomy during early pregnancy.

Gerald Duckworth (1870-1937)
Gerald was the son of Herbert Duckworth and Julia Jackson. He was a publisher who founded the George Duckworth and Company Ltd in 1898.

George Duckworth (1868-1934)
George was the son of Herbert Duckworth and Julia Jackson. He was a public servant.

Laura Makepeace Stephen (1870-1945)
Laura was the daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen and Harriet Marian.

Julia Prinsep Jackson (1846-1895)
Julia was the mother of Virginia Woolf and wife of Sir Leslie Stephen and the widow of Herbert Duckworth. She died of a fever in 1895.

Sir Leslie Stephen (1832–1904)
Leslie was the father of Virginia Woolf and husband of Julia Jackson and the widower of Harriet Marian. He was an editor, author and critic. In recognition for his literary career, he was knighted in 1902. He died of cancer in 1904.

Julia Margaret Pattle Cameron (1815–1879)
Julia was the daughter of Adeline de L’Etang and James Pattle and the aunt of Julia Jackson. She was a British photographer best known for her photos of celebrities and her themed photos involving biblical, Arthurian and other legendary imagery.

Chevalier Pierre Ambrose Antoine de L’Etang (born 1757)
Chevalier Pierre Ambrose Antoine de L’Etang was Virginia Woolf’s great-great grandfather. He was a French nobleman and at the age of 13 was appointed as a personal page to Marie Antoinette. He later become stable master of the royal stables at Versailles and became a member of King Louis XVI’s Garde du Corps.

The Daily Mail; Did Great-Aunt Virginia Woolf Have Anorexia? Her Great Niece, a Former Sufferer, Investigates; Emma Woolf; May 2013:
Chicago Tribune: Quentin Bell, Virginia Woolf’s Nephew, Biographer; December 1996:
The Independent; Obituary: Professor Quentin Bell; December 1996:
IMDB: Amaryllis Garnett:
The Guardian; Bloomsbury Secrets and Lies; Susanna Rustin; January 2010:
New York Times; Angelica Garnett, Writer of Frank Memoir of Bloomsbury Childhood, Dies at 93; May 2012:
Daily Mail; Poisoned Legacy of the Bloomsbury Set; Liz Hodgkinson; May 2012:–dazzling-sisters-descended-bohemian-artists-notorious-sex-lives.html
The Guardian: We Need To Talk About Graham;Virginia Nicholson; May 2011:
The Telegraph; Heroines on the Home Front; Cassandra Jardine; May 2011:
New York Times; Leonard Woolf; Victoria Glendinning; May 2012:
Leonard Woolf: a Biography; Victoria Dinnings; 2006

Book Review: Essays on the Self by Virginia Woolf

Essays on the Self is a fascinating new collection of Virginia Woolf essays recently published by Notting Hill Editions.

The book explores the idea of the self in a very thought-provoking way and is a real treat for Woolf fans who like to analyze the more complex themes and ideas in her works. The introduction, written by Joanna Kavenna, is very academic and a bit existential but it’s nothing that Virginia Woolf fans aren’t used to. In fact, I think that’s what the publishers of the book were counting on when they put this book together.

The following is an excerpt from the introduction:

“Virginia Woolf {1882-1941) wrote scintillating prose on a variety of themes, but I have chosen to focus this selection on the ‘self.’ So the question I should immediately answer is why? Why not choose the rights of women or the revolutions of modernity or the phases of the novel? Why start grappling with the finite and possibly illusory self? Why drag Woolf in as well? What is the self? What does it mean? Whose definition? The self of the artist, or their social self? The self of the individual coerced by ordinance, the self behind the mask? Yet where does mask end and self begin? One self, or an inestimable quantity? Shifting, or indivisible?

The essays in this collection are, of course, not merely concerned with the self. Woolf does also discuss the rights of women, the revolution of modernity, the past, present and future of the novel. She is eloquent on social inequality and the agony of war. She is a robust literary antiquarian, she rakes through the past in search of treasure. She is transfixed, as well, by the aesthetic contests of the present, the dynamic incompleteness of her era. She fights with local demons, she mocks those who mock her, and generally prevails. The essays I have chosen were written between 1919 when Woolf was 37 and 1940 when she was 58. During this time, Woolf changed, many times over, her opinions changed, her circumstances too; she was not a fixed entity, reiterating a rigid and immaculate position each time she picked up her pen.Essays on the Self by Virginia Woolf

Yet, in answer to my self-imposed questions; the question of the self is central, in some way, to every essay in this collection. Woolf is transfixed by the nature of the finite self (‘Who am I? ‘Who is everybody else?’) and how individual self is anyone, everyone, and yet each self is utterly distinct. Each self exist once on earth, in one moment of collision with everything around – Reality, Society, the beauty, ecstasy and tragedy or ordinary life. Each one of us speaks of ‘myself’ and ‘yourself,’ distinguishing the lone self from a bewildering array of other selves. Yet, as Woolf acknowledges, this is also the enterprise of any writer: to discern the self in a crowded room, to isolate a single vantage point, to communicate this vantage point to others. How to express the perceptions of this self, in received language, within the baggy old conventions of the novel, and yet without sacrificing any trace of authenticity or personal realism? – this is the dilemma of any writer who is not enslaved by choice or compulsion to an overarching ideology. The originality of the self is the one certain route to originality in art; the self, undisguised and unbridled, is inevitable distinctive.”

The introduction is written by British novelist and travel writer Joanna Kavenna, whose other works include The Ice Museum, The Birth of Love and Inglorious. She’s also had short stories and essays published in The New York Times, New Yorker, The Guardian and The London Review of Books.

Essays on the Self is available on Amazon and on the publisher’s website at

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Book Review: The Other Shakespeare by Lea Rachel

The Other Shakespeare is a new novel inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. As anyone who is familiar with A Room of One’s Own knows, it’s a nonfiction essay about women writers which introduces a fictional character named Judith Shakespeare, sister to William Shakespeare. The essay argues that there are many women like Judith out there, women who have dreamed of becoming writers but had their dreams dashed by a society that is unreceptive to women writers.

The novel’s subject matter alone will be of interest to both Shakespeare fans and Woolf fans. Much like novels such as Grendel and March, which both build upon another writer’s character, The Other Shakespeare brings Judith Shakespeare to life in her own story. In doing so, the novel weaves together history, fiction and social issues in an interesting way.

The Other Shakespeare shines a spotlight on Judith Shakespeare as she struggles to develop her writing skills and find acceptance in a society that expects women to be nothing more than housewives. She’s denied an education and many other opportunities that are readily available to her brothers and must make difficult decisions to get what she wants.
The Other Shakespeare by Lea Rachel
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the concept behind it. I also enjoyed Lea Rachel’s prose and felt it was quite impressive for a first novel, especially considering the difficulty of trying to make Old English easy to understand for modern readers. My only complaint is that The Other Shakespeare is a bit heavy-handed at times. The author has a habit of spelling things out for the reader and I felt the novel could be improved if the point she was trying to make was a bit more subtle. This is just a minor complaint though and I don’t feel it detracts too much from the novel as a whole.

The following is an excerpt from the book:

“Mary looked from the hornbook to her daughter and back again, and as realization dawned she asked softly, ‘Know your letters?’
Judith nodded and a long-taut spring snapped in Mary.
‘Useless child! Why do you do such things? Why do you insist on Latin and letters and stories of make-believe played in the forest? It’s inappropriate! ‘Tis isn’t right. You -‘ She advanced a step towards Judith, her fists clenched. ‘You put the boys up to this, didn’t you? You stole the hornbook from them, to add to your lists of sins.’ Mary’s eyes widened in understanding. ‘Asips, Asops, whatever it was called, that book of fables that disappeared last year, was that you too?’
Judith felt a sting of pleasure in righting this wrong at least.
‘Yay. It fell into the Avon. ‘Twas entirely my fault.’
‘This – it’s -‘ The words stumbled together as Mary fought to straighten them out. ”Tis awful. ‘Tis wrong. ‘Tis against the natural order of things. Why must you insist on putting on such airs?’ Mary turned and held her hands up to the rafters. She took a deep breath and declared, ‘It is true, there is an evil presence in this house.’
Judith felt a chill run up her spine. In spite of herself, she defended her actions. ‘Nuns can read.’
Mary turned to look at her daughter. ‘What are you going to do,’ she asked. ‘run off and join a nunnery?’
Judith didn’t answer and Mary crossed herself.
‘You don’t join a nunnery to read, child, you join because you love God.’
At that moment Judith desperately wished that she loved God as much as her mother did. Maybe then everything would be easier. Maybe then what she was supposed to do would be clear, her mixed up thoughts and mixed up desires would make sense. Judith wasn’t trying to upset her mother, she didn’t want to be a bad daughter, she just couldn’t help being who she was. She just couldn’t help wanting to read.”

The Other Shakespeare is Lea Rachel’s first novel. Her first published work was her personal memoir I Promise. Rachel is an economics professor at the University of Missouri.

The Other Shakespeare is available on