Great Poets Do Not Die: Maggie Gee's Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2014) as Metaphor for Contemporary Biofiction




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Edinburgh University Press


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Peer reviewed



This chapter takes as its subject Maggie Gee’s novel Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2014), which imagines what might transpire if Woolf were to be resurrected in twenty-&rst-century New York. She is conjured by the &ctitious novelist Angela Lamb, who is visiting the Berg Collection in preparation for a keynote address at an international Woolf conference. As a contemporary novelist who recalls her subject to life, lends her clothing and helps her to sign her name, Angela is symbolic of the real-life novelists who recreated Woolf in their own image and reinterpreted her works in line with their respective versions. The chapter thus contends that Gee’s recent manifestation of Woolf-inspired bio&ction may be read successfully as an extended metaphor for the twenty-year-old subgenre. This originated with Sigrid Nunez (1998) and Michael Cunningham (1998), and extends to recent work by Priya Parmar (2014) and Norah Vincent (2015). The chapter &rst examines issues of content, focusing on Gee’s presentation of Woolf’s suicide and sexuality. The discussion is then expanded to think critically about Woolf-inspired bio&ction as a subgenre, particularly the ethical issues attendant on its invasion of the subject’s privacy.



Virginia Woolf, Maggie Gee, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, Biofiction


Layne, B. (2021) Great Poets Do Not Die: Maggie Gee's Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2014) as Metaphor for Contemporary Biofiction. In: Dubino, J., Pajak, P., Hollis, C.W., Lypka, C., Neverow, V. (Eds.) The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and Contemporary Global Literature. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp.399-411.


Research Institute

Institute of English