Being a prominent member of the Bloomsbury group, Leonard Woolf was a formidable figure in his own right, first as a civil administrator in Ceylon, then as a writer, leading light of the Fabian society and publisher of T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Robert Graves, Katherine Mansfield and of course Virginia Woolf.
The Woolf family were Jews who came to the UK in the early 19th Century at a time of growing tolerance, when racial laws were changing, unlike other parts of Europe.
Interesting to me was his early life at Cambridge, where he was a member of The Apostles and met the leading light of the time. Later he some years spent in the civil service in Ceylon. He gave up this careers and returned to England and married Virginia. VW’s mental illness meant their life was difficult and if it had not been for LW’s devotion and care VW would probably not have lived long enough to write her masterpieces. This has been speculated upon by others and seems to be true. He comes across as a ‘man for all seasons’, an urbane, cultivated man, ahead of his time in political and social attitudes.
His own writing included columns for the New Statesman and The Nation. He wrote also on subjects as far ranging as life in early 20th century colonial Ceylon and various political works and a 5 volume autobiography. LW lived a full, long life for another 28 years after VW’s death.
Thanks to LW a vast amount of Virginia’s diaries and letters were preserved and spawned a veritable industry of Bloomsbury research. VW had wanted them all destroyed