Virginia Woolf’s Suicide Note (1941)

Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, and dog

Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) might have lived the ideal writing life were it not for her lifelong struggle with mental illness. But this wasn’t the only source of anguish.

Surrounded by brilliant intellectuals in the Bloomsbury circle, she was also nurtured and protected by her husband, Leonard Woolf. Yet, she was relentlessly self-critical, restless, and rarely satisfied with her literary efforts. Perhaps that was what drove her to greatness, on the other hand.

It’s now widely believed that she suffered from bipolar disorder, for which there were scant options for treatment in her time. During particularly bad bouts of mania or depression, she withdrew, unable to participate in her active social life, and found it nearly impossible to focus on writing.

Virginia Woolf’s inner demons got the best of her. She walked into the river Ouse with stones in her pockets and succumbed to suicide by drowning at the age of 59. Here is the text and image of Virginia Woolf’s suicide note, left to Leonard Woolf on March 28, 1941.

. . . . . . . . . .


I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness.

You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ’til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know.

You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.

Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.

. . . . . . . . . .

Virginia woolf suicide note 1941

. . . . . . . . . .


 Virginia Woolf wants you to write “For the good of the world.”
 Virginia Woolf — the most self-critical author of all time?
Quotes on Living and Writing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to The Literary Ladies Guide weekly newsletter

Celebrating women’s voices
with inspiration for readers and writers

  • Find your next great read
  • Get writing advice from authors you love
  • Enjoy fascinating facts and quotes
  • Discover women’s literary history

... and lots more (look for a bonus in your welcome letter!)
Email address
Secure and Spam free...