Orlando : A Biography, Paperback
4 out of 5 (13 ratings)


Once described as the 'longest and most charming love-letter in literature', the Virginia Woolf's "Orlando" is edited by Brenda Lyons with an introduction and notes by Sandra M.

Gilbert in "Penguin Classics". Written for Virginia Woolf's intimate friend, the charismatic writer Vita Sackville-West, "Orlando" is a playful mock 'biography' of a chameleonic historical figure, immortal and ageless, who changes sex and identity on a whim.

First masculine, then feminine, Orlando begins life as a young sixteenth-century nobleman, then gallops through three centuries to end up as a woman writer in Virginia Woolf's own time.

A wry commentary on gender roles and modes of history, "Orlando" is also, in Woolf's own words, a light-hearted 'writer's holiday' which delights in ambiguity and capriciousness.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is regarded as a major 20th century author and essayist, a key figure in literary history as a feminist and modernist, and the centre of 'The Bloomsbury Group'.

This informal collective of artists and writers, which included Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture. Between 1925 and 1931 Virginia Woolf produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, from "Mrs Dalloway" (1925) to the poetic and highly experimental novel "The Waves" (1931).

She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography, including the playfully subversive "Orlando" (1928) and "A Room of One's Own" (1929) a passionate feminist essay.

If you enjoyed "Orlando", you might like Woolf's "The Waves", also available in "Penguin Modern Classics". "I read this book and believed it was a hallucinogenic, interactive biography of my own life and future". (Tilda Swinton).




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Showing 1 - 5 of 13 reviews.

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Review by

It's crazy. In a good way.

Review by

I read this to better teach Sally Potter's film, Orlando. Wordy and highly descriptive fantasy. Pure narrative. No dialogue. Not my favourite Woolf.

Review by
What with the crowd, what with the Duke, what with the jewel, she drove home in the vilest temper imaginable. Was it impossible then to go for a walk without being half-suffocated, presented with a toad set in emeralds, and asked in marriage by an Archduke?Orlando is written in the form of a biography rather than a novel, with Virginia Woolf as the very present biographer, discussing her choice of words and the biographer's role, while relating the life of her protean and strangely long-lived subject.I won this book in a competition on the BBCi Arts web-site in 2002. I have been putting off reading it because, out of Virginia Woolf's novels I've only read "Mrs Dalloway" and part of "To the Lighthouse" and struggled with both. I did however enjoy the film version of "Orlando" starring Tilda Swinton, so when I gave myself a 'read it or get rid of it' ultimatum, I decided to give it a go and surprised myself by enjoying it quite a lot!
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This is an odd book by any stretch of the imagination.

Review by

Loads of fun, effortless prose, and one hell of a love note. Not your usual Woolf!

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