Virginia Woolf, by Maurice Beck and Helen MacGregor, 1924.
(Woolf is image 2 of 8 in the slideshow.)
"I wrote the book very quickly; and when it was written, I ceased to be obsessed by my mother. I no longer hear her voice; I do not see her. I suppose that I did for myself what psycho-analysts do for their patients. I expressed some very long felt and deeply felt emotion. And in expressing it I explained it and laid it to rest." (Virginia Woolf, "A Sketch of the Past," 1939)
This photograph is from a 1924 issue of Vanity Fair, for which Woolf posed in one of her mother's dresses.
No one doubted that Woolf had based Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse in large part upon her own parents, Leslie and Julia Duckworth Stephen. Woolf was particularly adamant about Mrs. Ramsay's connection to her idolized mother Julia, who had died when Woolf was 13, throwing her into her first major bout of mental illness. Woolf's later reflection on the necessity of writing To the Lighthouse to be free of this burdensome memory is evident in her depiction of Lily Briscoe's fraught relationship with Mrs. Ramsay and her afterlife.
Taken by Maurice Beck and Helen MacGregor. Reprinted in "Vanity Fair Portraits" (20 November 2007).