A Summary and Analysis of Virginia Woolf’s ‘An Unwritten Novel’

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was drawn to railway carriages. In her 1924 essay ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’, in which she champions a more ‘spiritual’, impressionistic – what we would now call modernist – approach to fiction, in opposition to the more stolidly materialist approach of a popular writer like Arnold Bennett, she presents us with a hypothetical railway journey, outlining the attitude she would take to an imagined female passenger, ‘Mrs Brown’, and how such an attitude differs from that taken by a writer like Bennett.

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