In honor of Ada Lovelace Day I have chosen to write about one of my most favorite people to have ever existed: Virginia Woolf. My love affair with Virginia began when I was about 10 years old and I have never looked back. She is a wonderful model for women of any field, but in her life she especially dealt with the world of publishing and of course, the technology of language.
In 1917, Virginia and her husband Leonard founded the Hogarth Press and subsequently published Virginia’s works as well as works by T.S. Eliot and Laurence van der Post. It grew out of a hobby of Virginia’s (she hand-printed books) and became a real commercial printing business. The Hogarth Press was also at the forefront of printing books on psychoanalysis and translations of foreign works.
Virginia’s contributions to the development of the novel are many, but in this post I intend to focus specifically on her 1928 novel/biography Orlando. This work is particularly relevant to the themes of gender transition and genre study that we have discussed throughout the course. Orlando challenges the traditional notion of truth in description by dealing with the internal thoughts and feelings of the subject and through the blatant disregard for the logical facts about aging, space, and time. The protagonist undergoes a miraculous sex change from man to woman and faces a change in the types of technology she must use, not only due to her sex change, but also because our protagonist’s story spans centuries and thus numerous technological advances. This cross-over genre would not be attempted again by authors until the last decades in the 20th century.
Virginia Woolf is considered one the the greatest innovators in the English Language and her experiments with written word have contributed so much to the world of literature today.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day!