Whether you read Virginia Woolf because you fell in love with her writing style — stream-of-conscious narratives often underlaid with a sense of sadness — or because you were required to read Mrs. Dalloway for your freshman year English class, there's no doubt that the author played a major role in pioneering the literary techniques of modernist fiction. Today, on what would have been her 136th birthday, Google is honoring Woolf's everlasting impact with a homepage Doodle.
Surrounded by falling leaves, an oval portrait of Woolf, who stares solemnly towards the lefthand side of the screen, fills the second "o" of the calligraphic Google letters. The portrait resembles one of the most iconic photographs of Woolf, taken by photographer George Charles Beresford when she was 21. According to Google's Doodle Blog, the illustration's minimalism is meant to reflect the author's own minimalist style.
Woolf was born in 1882 in London, a city that went on to become one of the primary settings in her books. As the daughter of an editor, she grew up surrounded by books, although, according to the Virgina Woolf Society, she never went to school. After writing reviews in the Guardian and Times Literary Supplement, she began writing her own novels in 1908.
Today, Woolf is best known for work published slightly later in her career, including the fictional Mrs. Dalloway and To The Lighthouse. Her nonfiction, feminist works including A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas, were equally groundbreaking. Woolf took a sharp look at the lack of educational and professional opportunities available to women, and questioned the ruling classes of men. Her writing helped give a voice to women's rights movements in the 1960s, so in many ways, the tribute is especially fitting now.
If you haven't read any of Woolf's novels, there's no better time to start.
For a look at earlier drafts of today's Doodle, designed by British artist Louise Pomeroy, head to Google's Doodle Blog.