One of the most important and influential writers of the twentieth century is set to be celebrated in a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

The life and achievements of Virginia Woolf will be recognised through a series of portraits, photographs and rare archival material including diaries and a letter to her sister Vanessa Bell, written shortly before her suicide at the age of 59.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Guest curated by biographer Frances Spalding, Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision will explore Woolf as a novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure.

The exhibition looks at Woolf’s early life, literary interests and remarkable achievements, her fascination with London, awareness of modernity, and her developing feminist and political views. These are brought into focus through in-depth research and an array of archival material, including letters to and from her friends and acquaintances, extracts from her personal diaries, and original books that were first printed through the Hogarth Press.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Highlights of the show include distinctive portraits of Woolf by her Bloomsbury Group contemporaries, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry, as well as a collection of photographs by Beresford, Man Ray, and Beck and McGregor who photographed Woolf for Vogue. The exhibition will also feature portraits of those she was closest to, including a selection of intimate images recording her time spent with friends, family and literary peers.

The show will further consider Woolf’s political awareness, which was particularly prominent during the Spanish Civil War.

In her novel Three Guineas, published in 1938, Woolf asks "What can we do to prevent war?" Woolf also supported fundraising events for those affected by the Spanish Civil War. The exhibition will include one of Picasso’s Weeping Woman drawings which he created specifically for a fundraising event at the Royal Albert Hall, at which Virginia and Leonard Woolf sat on the platform.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Brought up in Victorian England, by adulthood Woolf had forged a literary career, establishing new forms of creative writing and criticism.

In 1905, Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell began to host weekly gatherings held at 46 Gordon Square, which led to the development of the Bloomsbury group of writers, artists and intellectuals, of which the sisters were central figures. The group included notable names such as John Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry and Lytton Strachey.

In 1912, Woolf married Leonard Woolf and together founded publishing company the Hogarth Press in 1917. 

In 1910 and 1912 Roger Fry brought French Post-impressionism to London and introduced England to modern art. From then on Woolf’s development as a modernist writer was to an extent influenced by her thinking about painting. In her novels, she demolished accepted conventions and transformed ideas about structure, plot and characterisation. In her most notable novels Jacob's Room (1922), Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and her most experimental novel The Waves (1931), Woolf pioneered the 'stream of consciousness' style of writing.

To this day, Woolf's work continues to inspire contemporary authors and has been adapted for both screen and stage.

Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision is at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, WC2, from July 10 until October 2014.
Details: 020 7306 0055,