History of the Project

This project was planned and begun by the late Professor Julia Briggs at the Centre for Textual Scholarship at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. After her untimely death, the pilot project was managed by co-directors Professors Marilyn Deegan of King's College London and Peter Shillingsburg of Loyola University Chicago, and designed and engineered by Dr Nick Hayward of Loyola University Chicago. The pilot project (available as a separate resource here) focused on the central "Time Passes" section of the novel. Woolf Online has now been expanded on this site to encompass the entire work.

It was important to Professor Briggs that the "Time Passes" project offer the basic evidence that would allow students and scholars to see the writing as a fluid process taking place in particular locations and at particular times in relation to other contemporaneous events. It is not required that anyone believe that such historical contextual materials as are provided here are necessary to an understanding of the novel; it is enough that readers often find such material more useful to an understanding of the novel than any enabling contexts that they can conjure up from their imaginations or general knowledge. "Time Passes" was written during a twenty-two day period, during which Woolf produced forty manuscript pages. Each morning she began at the top of a new page. Each day she reworked her draft, producing a typescript totaling, in the end, twenty-six pages. The pilot site brings to bear on that writing activity a rich array of contextual material, so that one can almost literally watch Virginia Woolf each day write the manuscript, write in her diary, pen letters, and compose other works, such as her essay on "The Cinema," and, on the same site, one finds accounts of the General Strike that was going on practically outside the writer's windows.In addition, one can watch or at least trace the evidence of Virginia Woolf typing up her manuscript, reading proofs, and making revisions..Moreover, because the Ramsay family bears such striking resemblances to Virginia Woolf's own family, the Stephens, the site provides biographical and visual materials about her family.

Tracing the writing process over twenty-two days and forty manuscript pages is much more feasible than when the project is expanded to over 300 manuscript pages written over two years. This new site does not attempt a day-by-day documentation of Woolf's writing, but it does stay true to Professor Briggs's original vision, including the same kinds of material (typescripts, proofs, revisions, editions, collations, diary entries, letters) expanding the number of early editions included, and adding early reviews of the novel. We have also added a map of Talland House, an advertisement for the novel from The Dial, the contract for the Albatross edition (also on the site), and originals with translations of a French review by Jean-Jacques Mayoux and of an interview with Woolf by Jacques-Emile Blanche.

Finally, it was Professor Briggs's expressed hope that the array of original materials and linked relationships provided in Woolf Online would serve as a basis for two on-going activities that she intended to jump-start with her own contributions; contributions that, unfortunately, she did not live to provide. First was a new and growing body of critical explanations of the "Time Passes" section, of the novel as a whole, and of Virginia Woolf's unique accomplishments as a novelist. And second was an account of Virginia Woolf's reading and thinking about philosophy, about time, being, progress, purpose, consciousness, and thought.After the untimely and sad death of Professor Briggs, it was gratifying to see ten well-known Virginia Woolf scholars around the world offer commentary, essays, bibliographies, and helpful advice in our attempt to fulfill the objectives of Professor Briggs's project.