Did Virginia Woolf Predict the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand?

In December of 1914, Virginia Woolf wrote to her friend, Janet Case, who had recently taken ill, claiming that she could sometimes predict the future and knew that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand would die:

“It was only the other day that I suddenly said to myself ‘Janet will soon be ill’ – and here it is. If you remember, I also foretold the death of the Archduke, and the death of Mrs. R.L. Stevenson, so its not surprising.”

Since there is no record of Virginia writing the actual prediction down in a letter or diary, it is most likely that she said it aloud during a conversation with Janet or other friends.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

The assassination, which took place on June 28th of 1914 in Bosnia, had a ripple effect on Virginia’s life as it sparked World War I and brought much death and destruction to Britain.

Since the archduke, a Habsburg prince next in line for the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist who opposed his plans to absorb Serbia in the Austro-Hungarian empire, the empire considered this assassination a major threat to its future and declared war on Serbia, dragging Britain, France and many other countries into the war with it.

It wasn’t long until East Sussex, where Virginia was living in a rented cottage called Asheham, was overrun with marching soldiers preparing for war and Virginia got her first taste of air raids and bombings later on while staying in London.

“The Letters of Virginia Woolf”; Volume Two 1912-1922; Virginia Woolf
The Asham Award: The Woolfs at Asham House: http://www.ashamaward.com/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=71

Subscribe to the Virginia Woolf Blog via Email:

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is a freelance writer and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Rebecca graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in Journalism in 2001.

One thought on “Did Virginia Woolf Predict the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand?

  1. Elizabeth Flynn

    I am interested in Virginia Woolf’s experience apropos of WWI and II. Leonard Woolf had two younger brothers who enlisted in WWI. In a heroic move, they left their foxhole to rescue a wounded commander and drag him back into the trench. Cedric was killed immediately by a mortar and Michael lived on, never quite the same. He died by his own hand many years later. Does anyone know the date at which Michael died?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *