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The serene and maternal Mrs Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr Ramsay, together with their children and assorted guests, are holidaying on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse Virginia Woolf constructs a remarkable and moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life, and the conflict between male and female principles. One of the great literary achievements of the twentieth century, To the Lighthouse is often cited as Virginia Woolf's most popular novel.
Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882, the daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen, first editor of The Dictionary of National Biography. After his death in 1904 Virginia and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, moved to Bloomsbury and became 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. In 1912 Virginia married Leonard Woolf, a writer and social reformer. Three years later, her first novel The Voyage Out was published, followed by Night and Day (1919) and Jacob's Room (1922). These first novels show the development of Virginia Woolf's distinctive and innovative narrative style. It was during this time that she and Leonard Woolf founded The Hogarth Press with the publication of the co-authored Two Stories in 1917, hand-printed in the dining room of their house in Surrey. 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 a