Initially overshadowed by Virginia Woolf's death and the Second World War, Between the Acts is now judged to be among the author's most challenging and subtle works. It is about many things, including marriage and jealousy, language and memory, artists, arts and audiences, and a society on the brink of war. In her early plans she called Between the Acts a medley. Included in the mix are literary genres she had written about throughout her career, echoes of her own works and allusions that range from the classics to popular songs. As the extensive notes to this edition show, in writing Between the Acts Woolf drew upon a capacious memory filled by a lifetime of reading, writing, listening and observing. Between the Acts is both Woolf's last novel and the first of her works to be published posthumously. The first English edition was set from her final typescript, edited by Leonard Woolf for publication by the Hogarth Press soon after her death. The text of the Shakespeare Head Press edition is that of the first English edition emended on the basis of a comparison of it with her final typescript.
The result is a text that is closer to Between the Acts as Virginia Woolf left it than are any earlier editions.
Susan Dick is Professor of English at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. She has edited
To the Lighthouse: The Original Holograph Draft (1982),
The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf (1985/89) and
To the Lighthouse (1992), and is the author of
Virginia Woolf (1989).
Mary S. Millar, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, is a co-editor of Benjamin Disraeli's Letters, volumes III to VII (1987 2003).