First published in 1953 'A Writer's Diary' is a collection of extracts from Virginia Woolf's complete diaries, selected by her husband, Leonard. It seems very strange nowadays, but when 'A Writer's Diary' was first published, Virginia Woolf's reputation as a writer was at a low ebb and Leonard, with the wish to restore his wife's standing as a serious writer of some calibre, took upon himself the task of distilling the full diaries - where Virginia recorded the details of her day-to-day life and of the people around her, along with her thoughts on the books she was writing and those she intended to write - by selecting those entries which he believed would display her intellectual and literary talents to best effect. And in that, Leonard Woolf has certainly achieved his aim.
'A Writer's Diary' opens with extracts from 1918 and closes with entries made just before Woolf's death in 1941 and in these entries we read of Virginia's discussions on Christina Rossetti, Byron, Conrad, Thomas Hardy, E.M Forster, Arnold Bennett and James Joyce, to name just a few. And of course, we also meet those people who were close to her including: Virginia's sister, the painter, Vanessa Bell; Lytton Strachey; Dora Carrington; Maynard Keynes; Roger Fry; Vita Sackville West, and I could go on; in fact the whole of Bloomsbury is within the covers of this book. We read of Virginia's disappointment when she gets a bad review and of her flashes of jealousy at the amount of attention Lytton Strachey attracts with his writing; but what is most important is that this book shows the writer in the act of writing, in the act of creating her writing and also in her despair at her lack of creativity at times. This is a wonderful book that I dip in and out of all the time and I have more than one copy - if it was on Kindle, I would download it onto my Kindle too. A book to keep by you, to inspire you and offer you endless interest and enjoyment. Highly recommended.
Please note: One of my copies is the Harvest edition shown here, which I notice is not available directly from Amazon but is obtainable from Amazon Marketplace. This diary is also now available in a new edition from Persephone Books which is, I believe, more readily available. I shall post this review under that edition also.