Leonard Woolf

About the Author

Leonard Sidney Woolf was born in London in 1880, the third of ten children. He was educated at Arlington House School, near Brighton, and then St Paul’s School, London. He won a scholarship to study classics at Trinity College, Cambridge; it was here that he met Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Thoby Steven (Virginia Woolf’s brother), John Maynard Keynes and E.M. Forster, all of whom would later become part of the Bloomsbury set.


In 1904 Woolf joined the Ceylon Civil Service, and was stationed at Jaffna. Four years later he was made assistant government agent in the Southern Province of Ceylon, where he administered the District of Hambantota. These years were to shape him both artistically and politically.


He returned to the United Kingdom in 1911 for a year’s leave, but resigned in 1912 and married Virginia Stephen the same year. As a couple, Leonard and Virginia were influential in the Bloomsbury group.


Woolf’s first novel, The Village and the Jungle, was published in 1913. Together with Virginia he bought a hand-operated printing press and founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, originally as a hobby: their first publication was a pamphlet of two stories, one by Leonard, one by Virginia. Named after their house in Richmond, it became an established publishing house following the success of Virginia’s Kew Gardens in 1919, and was home to works by Katherine Mansfield, T.S. Eliot, Clive Bell, Robert Graves, E.M. Forster and Vita Sackville-West, amongst others.


Woolf contributed to and edited various journals, wrote numerous sociological and political works, and continued as director of the Hogarth Press until his death in 1969.

Books by the author