Human beings do not go hand in hand the whole stretch of the way.
There is a virgin forest, tangled, pathless, in each; a snowfield where even the print of birds’ feet is unknown. Always to have sympathy, always to be accompanied, always to be understood would be intolerable.
Woolf may not been the only writer leading the charge to change society’s perception of illness, but her part should be recognized and respected for its place in an evolving, evocative canon of writing on health, illness and everything in between.
- From the early death of her mother at age 13 to the sexual abuse from her own half brothers led to the many mental and emotional breakdowns that made Virginia Woolf, “one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century…” (“Virginia Woolf” ).
English writer Virginia Woolf, for example, has written several literary works on human nature.
Her free-form prose style earned her credits for which her creations published in the 1920s were most distinguished.
But by 1925, it was and had been for some time.”While this is true, women’s voices speaking and writing about illness were hardly as widely and forcefully amplified as their male counterparts; Shulevitz mentions Proust, Chacuer, the Brontes and a Thomas Mann book published just one year before “On Being Ill.” A 2012 reissue of the essay, paired with a piece by Woolf’s mother and sometimes-caregiver Julia Stephen, shines further light on Woolf’s experience growing up ill, and how gaining attention and cultivating creativity despite of or perhaps because of bouts of illness played a key role from an early age.
Mary Mann insightfully reviews the slim volume for the literary blog Bookslut, explaining that this particular edition includes a much more in-depth history of Stephen’s role in caring for Woolf as well as many others.
She eventually married fellow writer and political theorist Leonard Woolf, with whom she enjoyed a reportedly happy marriage as she continued to manage her own health and bloomed into a renowned writer.
Written when she was about 42 years old, Woolf had considerable experience with illness when she penned “On Being Ill,” having been in and out of mental hospitals several times.