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The Tainted Creativity of Virginia Woolf Essay example

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The link between creativity and mental illness is often explicit. A complication with brain processing can either improve an artist’s work or hinder her ability to express herself. In the case of Virginia Woolf, the effect of bipolar disorder on her writing is twofold. She used her illness as inspiration for her work, but it also prevented her from producing novels at times. Virginia Woolf’s bipolar disorder, intensified by traumatic experiences early in life, had a duel impact on her creativity by igniting the passion to produce during her manic periods and allowing her to draw inspiration from her depressive experiences.
Virginia Woolf was born into an affluent English family on January 25, 1882. She was raised by nonconformist parents who had both been widowed and remarried. Her father was Sir Leslie Stephen, a historian and author, and her mother was Julia Prinsep Stephen, an Indian native and model for pre-Raphaelite painters as well as a nurse. She had three full siblings and four half-siblings. The family of ten lived at 22 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington. Virginia was homeschooled as child. Later in life, she took classes at a local college and became fluent in German, Greek, and Latin because she had a passion for learning.
When Virginia was a child, she began to write. Her childhood environment stimulated her new passion. Virginia’s parents encouraged her to write and to appreciate writing, and she was always welcome in her father’s abundant Victorian library. Her first experience with writing was a family newspaper called the Hyde Park Gate News. She wrote funny stories about her family’s daily activities, especially in the summer. Virginia’s family spent the summers between 1882 and 1895 in St. Ives, a southwestern Eng...


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...ngenuity, Virginia was able to compose many novels which are still treasured today. Virginia’s mental illness helped but also harmed her. She was able to use her ailment in her writing, but it also led to her tragic death. Virginia’s life may have ended abruptly, but because she was able to put her thoughts onto paper, she will live forever in the distressed pages of books around the world.



Works Cited

Leaska, Mitchell A. The Virginia Woolf Reader. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984. Print
Prose, Francine. The Mrs. Dalloway Reader. Garamond: Harcourt Incorporated, 2003. Print.
“Virginia Woolf’s Psychiatric History.” Mural. Web. 27 March 2014.
“Virginia Woolf.” The Biography Channel. Web. 27 March 2014.
“Virginia Woolf.” Virginia Woolf Society. 2000. Web. 27 March 2014.
“What is Bipolar Disorder?” National Alliance on Mental Illness. Web. 30 March 2014.


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