Study Guide

Kew Gardens Writing Style

By Virginia Woolf

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Writing Style

Descriptive, Grandiose


The narrative gives us an incredibly detailed picture of the natural setting and of the characters' thoughts and demeanors. At points, the story begins to feel like a complex painting, with every shade of petal and lighting of leaves minutely described. We even learn about the appearance of snail's shell—it has "brown, circular veins" (1)—and the precise obstacles he faces in his path:

Brown cliffs with deep green lakes in the hollows, flat, blade-like trees that waved from root to tip, round boulders of grey stone, vast crumpled surfaces of a thin crackling texture. (10)

Talk about specificity. These details bring the scene vividly to life and make it easy for us to imagine, smell, and hear each aspects of the story's setting.


In addition to being highly descriptive, the style of the narrative is very elaborate in its prose structure. There is a tendency here toward long, complex sentences and ornate language. The opening sentence of the story is an excellent case-in-point:

From the oval-shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with sports of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end. (1)

Thanks, Virginia. Homegirl knew how to write a good sentence. 

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