Study Guide

Virginia Woolf Hogarth & Independence

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Hogarth & Independence

In 1917, Leonard and Virginia Woolf purchased a used printing press and set it up in the basement of their home. The couple had figured out what millions of bloggers would learn more than a century later—if you don't want a publisher controlling what you say, publish yourself. They named their imprint Hogarth Press, after Hogarth House, their suburban London home. Over the years the press grew from a simple basement operation to a well-respected publishing house with offices in London. They published the works of writers like Katharine Mansfield, T.S. Eliot, and Sigmund Freud. Perhaps most notably, they published Virginia Woolf. The press gave Woolf the freedom to write the fiction she wanted to write without enduring the judgment of mainstream publishers or editors.

Shortly after the Woolfs established Hogarth, an aunt of Virginia Woolf's died and left her niece an inheritance of £500 per year for life. At the time, this was a good chunk of money. Though Woolf had grown up in a comfortable household, having a personal income as an adult was enormously gratifying to her. Woolf reveled in the freedom of financial independence, knowing that it was a valuable tool that few other women possessed. Money was liberation. "No force in the world can take from me my five hundred pounds," Woolf wrote in A Room of One's Own. "Food, house and clothing are mine forever. Therefore not merely do effort and labour cease, but also hatred and bitterness. I need not hate any man; he cannot hurt me. I need not flatter any man; he has nothing to give me."blank">To the Lighthouse, which she and Leonard both regarded as her best work to date, outsold all her previous books. She used the money to replace the outhouse at their country home with a flush toilet.

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