A Passionate Apprentice comprises the first years of Virginia Woolf's Journal - from 1879 to 1909. Beginning in early January, when Woolf was almost fifteen, the pages open at a time when she was slowly recovering from a period of madness following her mother's death in May 1895. Between this January and the autumn of 1904, Woolf would suffer the deaths of her half-sister and of her father, and survive a summer of madness and suicidal depression. Behind the loss and confusion, however, and always near the surface of her writing is a constructive force at work - a powerful impulse towards health. It was an urge, through writing, to bring order and continuity out of chaos. Putting things into words and giving them deliberate expression had the effect of restoring reality to much that might otherwise have remained insubstantial. This early chronicle represents the beginning of the future Virginia Woolf's apprenticeship as a novelist. These pages show that rare instance when a writer of great importance leaves behind not only the actual documents of an apprenticeship, but also a biographical record of that momentous period as well. In Woolf's words, 'Here is a volume of fairly acute life (the first really lived year of my life).'
'the precise moment of the writer's first authentic appearance'Craig Raine, Observer
Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882, the daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen, first editor of The Dictionary of National Biography. From 1915, when she published her first novel, The Voyage Out, Virginia Woolf maintained an astonishing output of fiction, literary criticism, essays and biography. In 1912 she married Leonard Woolf, and in 1917 they founded The Hogarth Press. Having suffered a series of mental breakdowns throughout her life, Virginia Woolf committed suicide on 28 March, 1941.