To the Lighthouse (Popular Penguin)
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"To the Lighthouse" is Virginia Woolf's fifth novel and is widely acknowledged as being among the greatest literary achievements of this century. It is also the most popular of all her novels. It is set on a Hebridean island where the Ramsay family as well as various guests enjoy the long summer in each other's company. The island is overlooked in the distance by a lighthouse, the object of desire especially for the Ramsay's six year old son, James. Whilst each of the three sections is fragmented into stream-of-consciousness contributions from various narrators, at the centre of it all is Mrs Ramsay, mother of eight children, loving wife, friend and gracious hostess.
Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882. After her father's death in 1904 Virginia and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, moved to Bloomsbury and became the centre of 'The Bloomsbury Group'. This informal collective of artists and writers exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture. In 1912 Virginia married Leonard Woolf, a writer and social reformer. Three years later, her first novel The Voyage Out was published, followed by Night and Day (1919) and Jacob's Room (1922). Between 1925 and 1931 Virginia Woolf produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, from Mrs Dalloway (1925) to The Waves (1931). She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography. On 28 March 1941, a few months before the publication of her final novel, Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf committed suicide.