Today Is Virginia Woolf’s 136th Birthday. Here’s What You Should Know About Her

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Thursday’s Google Doodle celebrates British literary luminary Virginia Woolf, with a portrait to mark what would have been her 136th birthday.

The author of Mrs Dalloway, To The Lighthouse and A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf’s life and work remains highly influential on the world of literature and beyond. Born on Jan. 25, 1882, Woolf’s early life was infused with creative connections, as both her parents were prominent figures in London’s literary and artistic circuits. Woolf, her husband Leonard and her sister, artist Vanessa Bell, would become core protagonists themselves in an intellectual circle known as the Bloomsbury Group; a collective of writers, artists, and thinkers who enjoyed their heyday during the first half of the 20th century.

Virginia Woolf is regarded as one of the greatest authors of her time due to her exploration of modernism and feminist narratives, inspiring authors such as Margaret Atwood and Gabriel García Márquez. While Woolf’s pioneering, stream-of-consciousness novels received critical acclaim during her lifetime, she was affected by recurring bouts of mental illness, and died by suicide in 1941. As TIME’s obituary of Woolf noted of her novels:

To some readers they didn’t always make sense, but they made her name and parts of them almost made music. Like a musician, she liked to strike the mood of her books with a borrowed lyric on which she improvised infinite variations.

Virginia Woolf
English novelist and critic Virginia Woolf (1882 - 1941). (Photo by George C Beresford/Getty Images)George C. Beresford—Getty Images

The Google Doodle illustration for Woolf’s birthday was created by London-based illustrator Louise Pomeroy and is reminiscent of a well known photograph of Woolf in 1902 that captured her serene, thoughtful profile. Woolf’s Doodle is also surrounded by falling autumn leaves, which were a recurring image in her work.

In celebration of Woolf’s birthday, the New York Public Library shared a guide to her work on Twitter, and Londonist shared a map of the locations where Woolf’s novels take place.

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