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56 Virginia Woolf Quotes for Understanding Life Itself

Published on February 21, 2020 7:00 AM EST
Virginia Woolf Quotes for Understanding Life Itself

These Virginia Woolf quotes frame her ideas about all aspects of life, from writing to living as a woman in the modern world. Virginia Woolf was a writer of the early twentieth century who resided in the United Kingdom. Her first novel was The Voyage Out, which was published in 1915. Many of her works speak about writing themselves, but also tackle womanhood, relationships, and general wonderings and observations about life.

What can we learn from Virginia Woolf’s quotes?

The truth that lies under many of her famous quotes, no matter the topic, is truth about the beauty and complexity of life. When you look at books, love, and the female existence, each one comes back to the truth about the complexities of life itself. The Virginia Woolf quotes below highlight this complexity, as well as uncover the true nature of the self.

Virginia Woolf Quotes for Understanding Life Itself

We also have a collection of Dorothy Parker quotes to uncover life’s secrets. Be sure to also read that.

Virginia Woolf Quotes About Books and Writing

1. “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

2. “Books are the mirrors of the soul.” – Virginia Woolf

3. “Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.” – Virginia Woolf

4. “Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.” – Virginia Woolf

5. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” – Virginia Woolf

6. “I am reading six books at once, the only way of reading; since, as you will agree, one book is only a single unaccompanied note, and to get the full sound, one needs ten others at the same time.” – Virginia Woolf

7. “As long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.” – Virginia Woolf

8. “For it would seem—her case proved it—that we write, not with the fingers but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fiber of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.” – Virginia Woolf

9. “And the poem, I think, is only your voice speaking.” – Virginia Woolf

10. “For books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately.” – Virginia Woolf

11. “I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.” – Virginia Woolf

12. “Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” – Virginia Woolf

13. “When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke round me I am in darkness—I am nothing.” – Virginia Woolf

14. “Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.” – Virginia Woolf

15. “Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice?” – Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf Quotes About Love

16. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf

17. “Why are women… so much more interesting to men than men are to women?” – Virginia Woolf

18. “The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” – Virginia Woolf

19. “Love, the poet said, is woman’s whole existence.” – Virginia Woolf

20. “I have lost friends, some by death… others by sheer inability to cross the street.” – Virginia Woolf

21. “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…” – Virginia Woolf

22. “What does the brain matter compared with the heart?” – Virginia Woolf

23. “I worship you but I loathe marriage. I hate its smugness, its safety, its compromise and the thought of you interfering with my work, hindering me; what would you answer?” – Virginia Woolf

24. “I see you everywhere, in the stars, in the river, to me you’re everything that exists; the reality of everything.” – Virginia Woolf

25. “They went in and out of each other’s minds without any effort.” – Virginia Woolf

26. “To love makes one solitary.” – Virginia Woolf

27. “Friendships, even the best of them, are frail things. One drifts apart.” – Virginia Woolf

28. “Just in case you ever foolishly forget; I’m never not thinking of you.” – Virginia Woolf

Also check out these Pablo Neruda quotes that will leave you questioning life and love.

Virginia Woolf Quotes About Womanhood

 29. “As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.” – Virginia Woolf

30. “Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” – Virginia Woolf

31. “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

32. “As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.” – Virginia Woolf

33. “A woman knows very well that, though a wit sends her his poems, praises her judgement, solicits her criticism, and drinks her tea, this by no means signifies that he respects her opinions, admires her understanding, or will refuse though the rapier is denied him, to run through the body with his pen.” – Virginia Woolf

34. “The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their completeness. I like their anonymity.” – Virginia Woolf

35. “I really don’t advise a woman who wants to have things her own way to get married.” – Virginia Woolf

36. “The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.” – Virginia Woolf

37. “For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of—to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self, having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.” – Virginia Woolf

38. “Anything can happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.” – Virginia Woolf

39. “I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something beyond the daily life.” – Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf Quotes to Make You Think

40. “There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, ‘consume me.’” – Virginia Woolf

41. “Nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.” – Virginia Woolf

42. “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf

43. “I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” – Virginia Woolf

44. “I am in the mood to dissolve in the sky.” – Virginia Woolf

45. “When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much, do they?” – Virginia Woolf

46. “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” – Virginia Woolf

47. “I am rooted but I flow.” – Virginia Woolf

48. “It may be possible that the world itself is without meaning.” – Virginia Woolf

49. “Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.” – Virginia Woolf

50. “How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” – Virginia Woolf

51. “I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought hot it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” – Virginia Woolf

52. “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; here was one.” – Virginia Woolf

53. “I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.” – Virginia Woolf

54. “Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us.” – Virginia Woolf

55. “I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.” – Virginia Woolf

56. “And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.” – Virginia Woolf

You might also like these Margaret Mead quotes challenging societal stereotypes.

What did you learn from these Virginia Woolf quotes?

Virginia Woolf is one of the most acclaimed writers of the twentieth century. The Virginia Woolf quotes above display the deep truths about life that she explores in her literature. Throughout her many works, she touches on topics exploring the truth behind life, including love and friendships, her intimate connection with writing, and existing as a woman.

What exactly does Virginia Woolf teach us about life? Virginia Woolf’s outlook on life that she displays through her writing shows the truth and vulnerability in life. She explores this through her own writing and often talks about humanity, love, and womanhood, which all come together to make one big, complicated and beautiful life story.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these wise Virginia Woolf quotes? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

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