The Best Virginia Woolf Quotes of All Time

Virginia Woolf quotes are masterful and full of insight and wonder. Below you will find a huge collection of quotes by this amazing author featuring topics such as quotes about literature, quotes on ageing, quotes on peace and war, quotes on people and opinions and many others.



Virginia Woolf Quotes



Virginia Woolf quotes on ageing

virginia woolf quotes

One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them.

At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.

Now, aged 50, I'm just poised to shoot forth quite free straight and undeflected my bolts whatever they are.
~ Read more 50th birthday sayings

The older one grows, the more one likes indecency.

These are the soul's changes. I don't believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism.

I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old: but now I am a woman again -- as I always am when I write.

Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death... others through sheer inability to cross the street.

Most of a modest woman's life was spent, after all, in denying what, in one day at least of every year, was made obvious.

If we didn't live adventurously, plucking the wild goat by the beard, and trembling over precipices, we should never be depressed, I've no doubt; but already should be faded, fatalistic and aged.

When the shriveled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning, it satisfies the senses amazingly
~ Virginia Woolf quotes on ageing


Virginia Woolf quotes about women and being a woman herself

Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes

Why are women so much more interesting to men than men are to women?

As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.

Women have burnt like beacons in all the works of all the poets from the beginning of time.

Have you any notion how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe?

Publicity in women is detestable. Anonymity runs in their blood. The desire to be veiled still possesses them. They are not even now as concerned about the health of their fame as men are, and, speaking generally, will pass a tombstone or a signpost without feeling an irresistible desire to cut their names on it.

If one could be friendly with women, what a pleasure -- the relationship so secret and private compared with relations with men. Why not write about it truthfully?

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

If woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance; very various; heroic and mean; splendid and sordid; infinitely beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as a man, some think even better.

Young women... you are, in my opinion, disgracefully ignorant. You have never made a discovery of any sort of importance. You have never shaken an empire or led an army into battle. The plays by Shakespeare are not by you, and you have never introduced a barbarous race to the blessings of civilization. What is your excuse?

The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their completeness. I like their anonymity.

If we help an educated man's daughter to go to Cambridge are we not forcing her to think not about education but about war? -- not how she can learn, but how she can fight in order that she might win the same advantages as her brothers?
~ Virginia Woolf quotes about women


Virginia Woolf quotes about literature and being an author

My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery --always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What's this passion for?
~ Virginia Woolf quotes

I want the concentration and the romance, and the worlds all glued together, fused, glowing: have no time to waste any more on prose.

Somewhere, everywhere, now hidden, now apparent in what ever is written down, is the form of a human being. If we seek to know him, are we idly occupied?

As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me: grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear, pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall

Almost any biographer, if he respects facts, can give us much more than another fact to add to our collection. He can give us the creative fact; the fertile fact; the fact that suggests and engenders.

Almost any biographer, if he respects facts, can give us much more than another fact to add to our collection. He can give us the creative fact; the fertile fact; the fact that suggests and engenders.

Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title.

One has to secrete a jelly in which to slip quotations down people's throats --and one always secretes too much jelly.

A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out.

The poet gives us his essence, but prose takes the mold of the body and mind.

It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.

The first duty of a lecturer is to hand you after an hour's discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks and keep on the mantelpiece forever.

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible.

We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.

A masterpiece is something said once and for all, stated, finished, so that it's there complete in the mind, if only at the back.

When a subject is highly controversial... one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one's audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker.

Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Novels so often provide an anodyne and not an antidote, glide one into torpid slumbers instead of rousing one with a burning brand.

Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.

Thus when I come to shape here at this table between my hands the story of my life and set it before you as a complete thing, I have to recall things gone far, gone deep, sunk into this life or that and become part of it; dreams, too, things surrounding me, and the inmates, those old half-articulate ghosts who keep up their haunting by day and night... shadows of people one might have been; unborn selves.

I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.

Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes about literature


Virginia Woolf quotes about life

virginia woolf quotes about

The interest in life does not lie in what people do, nor even in their relations to each other, but largely in the power to communicate with a third party, antagonistic, enigmatic, yet perhaps persuadable, which one may call life in general.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes

Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.

To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face, and to know it for what it is...at last, to love it for what it is, and then to put it away

So the days pass, and I ask myself whether one is not hypnotized, as a child by a silver globe, by life, and whether this is living.

In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows.

The strange thing about life is that though the nature of it must have been apparent to every one for hundreds of years, no one has left any adequate account of it.

This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us. If one has the courage to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say.

I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.

What is the meaning of life? That was all — a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark

Life for both sexes is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. More than anything... it calls for confidence in oneself...And how can we generate this imponderable quality most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes about life


Virginia Woolf quotes on war and freedom

If you insist upon fighting to protect me, or ''our'' country, let it be understood soberly and rationally between us that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes

We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods.

The connection between dress and war is not far to seek; your finest clothes are those you wear as soldiers.

You cannot find peace by avoiding life.

To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves.

Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind
~ Virginia Woolf quotes on war and freedom


Virginia Woolf quotes on people, opinion and human nature

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes

It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses.

It is curious how instinctively one protects the image of oneself from idolatry or any other handling that could make it ridiculous, or too unlike the original to be believed any longer.

On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.

Let a man get up and say, Behold, this is the truth, and instantly I perceive a sandy cat filching a piece of fish in the background. Look, you have forgotten the cat, I say.

There can be no two opinions as to what a highbrow is. He is the man or woman of thoroughbred intelligence who rides his mind at a gallop across country in pursuit of an idea.

We all indulge in the strange, pleasant process called thinking, but when it comes to saying, even to someone opposite, what we think, then how little we are able to convey! The phantom is through the mind and out of the window before we can lay salt on it.

Where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe.

Really I don't like human nature unless all candied over with art.

The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.

One likes people much better when they're battered down by a prodigious siege of misfortune than when they triumph.

It is no use trying to sum people up. One must follow hints, not exactly what is said, nor yet entirely what is done.

Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradles. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself.

Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.

Inevitably we look upon society, so kind to you, so harsh to us, as an ill-fitting form that distorts the truth; deforms the mind; fetters the will

Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.

The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages. Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes on people and opinions


Other great Virginia Woolf quotes

virginia woolf quotes

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes

What is meant by ''reality''? It would seem to be something very erratic, very undependable -- now to be found in a dusty road, now in a scrap of newspaper in the street, now a daffodil in the sun. It lights up a group in a room and stamps some casual saying

Money dignifies what is frivolous if unpaid for

Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it. It is our business to puncture gas bags and discover the seeds of truth.

But it is just when opinions universally prevail and we have added lip service to their authority that we become sometimes most keenly conscious that we do not believe a word that we are saying.

Arrange whatever pieces come your way.

Boredom is the legitimate kingdom of the philanthropic.

Humor is the first gift to perish in a foreign language.

Every season is likeable, and wet days and fine, red wine and white, company and solitude. Even sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life, can be full of dreams; and the most common actions

There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us, and not we, them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.

What I like, or one of the things I like, about motoring is the sense it gives one of lighting accidentally, like a voyager who touches another planet with the tip of his toe, upon scenes which would have gone on, have always gone on, will go on, unrecorded, save for this chance glimpse. Then it seems to me I am allowed to see the heart of the world uncovered for a moment.

To depend upon a profession is a less odious form of slavery than to depend upon a father.

For love... has two faces; one white, the other black; two bodies; one smooth, the other hairy. It has two hands, two feet, two tails, two, indeed, of every member and each one is the exact opposite of the other. Yet, so strictly are they joined together

Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!

I am to be broken. I am to be derided all my life. I am to be cast up and down among these men and women, with their twitching faces, with their lying tongues, like a cork on a rough sea. Like a ribbon of weed I am flung far every time the door opens.

I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.

Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame.

The history of men's opposition to women's emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself

Different though the sexes are, they inter-mix. In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is very opposite of what it is above.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes

I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past

I read the book of Job last night, I don't think God comes out well in it.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.

It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.

It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple: one must be a woman manly, or a man womanly.

It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.

It seems as if an age of genius must be succeeded by an age of endeavor; riot and extravagance by cleanliness and hard work.

Language is wine upon the lips.
~ Read more wine sayings

Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded

They can because they think they can

But when the self speaks to the self, who is speaking? The entombed soul, the spirit driven in, in, in to the central catacomb; the self that took the veil and left the world -- a coward perhaps, yet somehow beautiful, as it flits with its lantern restlessly up and down the dark corridors

The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder

Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more

Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order

Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter's evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.

When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don't seem to matter very much, do they

When an arguer argues dispassionately he thinks only of the argument

In solitude we give passionate attention to our lives, to our memories, to the details around us.
~ Virginia Woolf quotes



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