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Excerpt: "As a Modernist follower of radical individualism, Virginia Woolf is thought to be antipathetic to religious thought; Woolf’s own spirituality, however, is certainly more complicated than most critics have allowed, especially in light of the influence of her aunt, Caroline Emelia Stephen, a well-known Quaker mystic and writer who rejected the established church in favor of a less traditional version of Christianity. The intellectual relationship between niece and aunt has been little discussed; aside from Jane Marcus’s “The Niece of a Nun: Caroline Stephen and the Cloistered Imagination” and Alison Lewis’s “A Quaker Influence on Modern English Literature: Caroline Stephen and her Niece, Virginia Woolf,” few critics seem to have considered the implications of Stephen’s influence on Woolf’s works and ideas."


Originally published in the Virginia Woolf Miscellany,Issue 80, Fall 2011.