On Being Ill

Virginia Woolf

Renard Press



ISBN: 9781804470312


Publication date: 21 April 2023



‘Novels, one would have thought, would have been devoted to influenza, epic poems to typhoid, odes to pneumonia, lyrics to toothache. But no – with a few exceptions… literature does its best to maintain that its concern is with the mind; that the body is a sheet of plain glass through which the soul looks straight and clear, and, save for one or two passions such as desire and greed, is null, and negligible and non-existent.’

Penned in 1925 during the aftermath of a nervous breakdown, On Being Ill is a groundbreaking essay by the Modernist giant Virginia Woolf that seeks to establish illness as a topic for discussion in literature.

Delving into considerations of the loneliness and vulnerability experienced by those suffering from illness, as well as aspects of privilege others might have, the essay resounds with an honesty and clarity that still rings true today.