who is afraid
No of Pages: 456
RRP: 29.95
ISBN Print: 1 876040 12 2

Who's Afraid of Leonard Woolf?

A Case for the Sanity of Virginia Woolf
Was Virginia Woolf suicidal, or was she betrayed and driven to taking her own life? Irene Coates argues, with forensic precision, that Leonard Woolf was responsible for the unravelling of his wife’s sanity and her subsequent suicide. These two people were at the heart of the Bloomsbury Group; one a mad genius, the other a so-called selfless husband. Leonard has been all but canonized as a saint who sacrificed his own happiness to enable his mad genius wife to write, a simplistic tale Coates wholeheartedly rejects. But underneath that caring veneer beat the heart of a pessimistic, repressed, bullying, and hypocritical man, one who may have been responsible for the death of Virginia Woolf. Coates presents her case against Leonard in a forcefully written, meticulously argued, emotional narrative, in which she chronicles a power struggle between a manipulative and selfish man whose books went nowhere and a creative life-loving woman whose writing revolutionized fiction and challenged the patriarchal paradigm.

“There are, undoubtedly, unanswered questions attached to the standard story of Virginia’s death… This impassioned book deserves to be read.” Sydney Morning Herald.


About the Author

Irene Coates

Irene Coates was born in 1925  and grew up in a bohemian family in London on the fringe of the Bloomsbury Group. In the 1940s she lived in Cambridge and ran the Cambridge Drama Centre. From 1953-56 she lived in India, studying Hindustani music. Between 1961 and 1981 she wrote 14 plays, which were produced by such companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company and Edinburgh Festival. She migrated to Australia with her husband in 1982 and was presented with a NSW Premier’s Community Service Award for fostering the  arts in the Blue Mountains.  In 1998 she was Writer in Residence (drama) at the University of Western Sydney, Nepean. She has had four books published, including the biography, Who’s Afraid of Leonard Woolf?. Irene Coates lives in the Island of Wight, UK where she is painting, continuing to write and teach.

Read More