Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Woolf, Virginia

(1882-1941) UK author and critic. Most of her works lie outside the fantasy genre. A member of the Bloomsbury Group, she was a leading exponent of stream-of-consciousness writing. Her exploration of inner life brought a new slant to interpretations of fictive reality, and has had a significant influence on modern literary fiction. Among her novels, only Orlando (1928) is fantasy. It recounts the career through five centuries of Orlando, born a man in the reign of Elizabeth I. Falling into a series of coma-like sleeps, Orlando journeys forward through Time, transcending the limitations of mortality. Through the character of Orlando, VW confronts the transient nature of human mores and customs and the fluidity of human sexuality. As a youth, Orlando is beloved by the aged Queen Elizabeth, and loves a reckless, heartless Russian princess: experience does not automatically confer either comprehension or wisdom, and human relations are often thwarted by misunderstanding, ignorance and confusion. Transformed during one sleep-period into a woman, Orlando chafes against socially imposed constructions of femininity and female behaviour. Vigorous, unusual and provocative, Orlando is a landmark book in the borderland of the fantasy genre. It was filmed as Orlando (1992). [KLM]

further reading: Virginia Woolf: A Biography (1974) by Quentin Bell.

Adeline Virginia Woolf


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.