“There are many times, writing this, when I have been afraid of Virginia Woolf. I think I would have been afraid of meeting her. I am afraid of not being intelligent enough for her. Reading and writing her life, I am often afraid (or, in one of the words she used most about her mental states, “apprehensive” ) for her.
(…) I am also afraid of presuming. All readers of Virginia Woolf’s diaries (even those who have decided to dislike her) will feel an extraordinary sense of intimacy with the voice that is talking there. they will want to call her Virginia, and speak proprietorially about her life. She seems extremely near, contemporary, timeless. But she is also evasive and obscure (there are number of important things she never does talk about in the diaries), and, obviously, increasingly distant from us in time. If you listen to the only surviving recording of her, you hear a voice from another century, which to us sounds posh, antiquated, class-bound, mannered. She was born over a hundred years ago; she lived through a period of the most rapid and dramatic changes in human history.
Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando,” in her “biography,” lives for centuries; so does - so will - “Virginia Woolf.” Meanwhile, as for Orlando, everything changes. Virginia Woolf herself looks back, from her fifties to her childhood, with amazement, feeling both near to and utterly distant from her own past.
If she sometimes feels strange to herself, how much stranger is she to us!”
Hermione Lee in Virginia Woolf