Virginia Woolf Quotes

Most popular Virginia Woolf Quotes

Even her eyelashes acted.

actors

Intimacy is a difficult art.

intimacy

Language is wine upon his lips.

language

Arrange whatever pieces come your way.

inner peace

You cannot find peace by avoiding life.
— Virginia Woolf

inner peace

Literature is the record of our discontent.

literature

That great Cathedral space which was childhood.
— Virginia Woolf

childhood

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

habit

I ransack public libraries & find them full of sunk treasure.

libraries

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
— Virginia Woolf
On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.

agony

It is the privilege of loneliness; in privacy one may do as one chooses.

loneliness

Her mind is a very thin soil, laid an inch or two above very barren rock.
— Virginia Woolf
I have lost friends, some by death others by sheer inability to cross the street.
— Virginia Woolf

friendship

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

truth

The poet gives us his essence, but prose takes the mold of the body and mind entire.
— Virginia Woolf
Wherever one cut him, with a little question, he poured, spurted fountains of ideas.
— Virginia Woolf

poets

I like going from one lighted room to another, such is my brain to me; lighted rooms.

Brain

Unless you catch ideas on the wing and nail them down, you will soon cease to have any.

ideas

Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious; the best prose is that which is most full of poetry.

poetry

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

dreams (during sleep) truth

When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke round me I am in darkness—I am nothing.

words

Death is the enemy.  Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!
— Virginia Woolf

death

The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
— Virginia Woolf
I don't believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun.  Hence my optimism.

aging

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

misfortune

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

quotations

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

writers

Each had his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart; and his friends could only read the title.

the past

The beauty of the world which is so soon to perish has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.

beauty laughter the world

A biography is considered complete if it merely accounts for six or seven selves, whereas a person may well have as many thousand.
— Virginia Woolf

the self

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

novels

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.

masterpiece

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

mind

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

men and women

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.

fiction

To survive, each sentence must have, at its heart, a little spark of fire, and this, whatever the risk, the novelist must pluck with his own hands from the blaze.

writing writing advice

Travel and idle, contemplate the future or the past of the world, dream over books and loiter at street corners, and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.
— Virginia Woolf

thinking

It is notorious that illusions are shattered by conflict with reality, so no real happiness, no real wit, no real profundity are tolerated where the illusion prevails.

reality illusion

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.

ideas

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.

intellectuals

Vague as all good definitions are, 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.

essays

If we didn't live venturously, 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.

adventure

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 endears.

biography

Once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system it weakens it so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the ink pot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing.

reading writing

A poor wretch of an author keeps all his thoughts in a dark attic in his own brain, and when they come out in print they look so shivering and naked. So for other people to like them is a great encouragement.

encouragement

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings . . . it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes in literature.

illness

Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us.  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.

bookstore

The intellect, divine as it is, and all worshipful, has a habit of lodging in the most seedy of carcasses, and often, alas, acts the cannibal among the other faculties so that often, where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe.

intellect