1 May (1912): Virginia Stephen and Leonard Woolf first met at Trinity College in Cambridge when Virginia was there visiting her brother Thoby. Years later, Lytton Strachey, a mutual friend, commended Virginia to Leonard, writing in 1909 about her eligibility: “she’s the only woman in the world with sufficient brains, it’s a miracle that she should exist." The two began to date, and eventually, Leonard proposed several times.
In the letter below, Virginia details her reasons for why they should not marry. Regardless, the couple agreed to an engagement on May 29, 1912 and married on August 10. A year later Virginia attempted suicide by taking a large dose of the sedative verona. Due to her mental illness, doctors discouraged the two from having children.
"I’m half afraid of myself. I sometimes feel that no one ever has or ever can share something—It’s the thing that makes you call me like a hill, or a rock. Again, I want everything—love, children, adventure, intimacy, work. (Can you make any sense out of this ramble? I am putting down one thing after another.) So I go from being half in love with you, and wanting you to be with me always, and known everything about me, to the extreme of wildness and aloofness.
I sometimes think that if I married you, I could have everything—and then—it is the sexual side of it that comes between us? As I told you brutally the other day, I feel no physical attraction in you. There are moments—when you kissed me the other day was one—when I feel no more than a rock. And yet your caring for me as you do almost overwhelms me. It is so real, and so strange. Why should you? What am I really except a pleasant attractive creature?"