The Reflection of Virginia Woolf's Life in Her Writings.
At the age of twenty-eight, Virginia Woolf blackened her face, put on a fake beard, cross-dressed in a caftan and turban, masquerading as an Ethiopian prince. Weeks before, Woolf her brother Adrian and friend Duncan Grant began to spread a rumor that a diplomatic party from Ethiopia would be giving England a surprise visit in the near future. So when Woolf presented herself to the Navy as a prince along with her translator and servants their identity was not questioned. The foursome was ceremoniously brought aboard the H.M.S. Dreadnought, England's newest and most top secret ship in 1910 and were given a royal welcome. Reporters came from every newspaper in London to record the "diplomatic visit" which made front page news the next day. Woolf, her brother Adrian and friend Duncan Grant created a successful hoax that embarrassed the Admiralty and the officers in charge of the British Home Fleet by demonstrating their vulnerability and ignorance. She enjoyed exposing the inflexibility and narrowness of mind of this male-dominated organization. Although, only a prank, this stunt was a prime example of how Woolf's life and eventually her novels became a symbol for the changes in writing norms, intellectual thought, and societal norms at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Woolf was born into an upper-middle class family of nine in London in 1882. Her father, Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), was a distinguished man of letters and philosopher. He took holy orders and later left his position at Cambridge to become a free thinker and agnostic. Woolf had a close relationship with her father whose teachings greatly influenced her writings. Throughout her childhood Woolf was surrounded by intellectuals who frequented her home. Visitors like Tennison, George Elliot and Henry James were not uncommon. Being surrounded by artists of all forms she and her sister Vanessa quickly decided that they would be a writer and a painter.