Leonard Woolf Books

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Leonard Woolf was a writer, publisher, political theorist, journalist and a member of the Bloomsbury Group who wrote a number of fiction and nonfiction books.

Leonard was married to Virginia Woolf and the couple owned their own publishing press, Hogarth Press, which published many of the books listed here.

The following is a list of books by Leonard Woolf:

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The Village in the Jungle

Published in 1913, The Village in the Jungle is Leonard Woolf’s first novel and is based on Woolf’s experiences working as a colonial civil servant in British-controlled Ceylon (which is now modern day Sri Lanka.)

The plot is about a poor family living in the jungle and it chronicles the challenges they face concerning poverty, colonialism, disease and the jungle itself. It is written from the point of the view from the natives rather than the colonial point of view.

The novel is considered groundbreaking for being one of the first anti-imperialistic novels of its time and because it was written by an actual British civil servant.

The Wise Virgins

Published in 1914, The Wise Virgins is a satire about English society just before WWI. It is the second and last novel that Woolf wrote.

The plot is about a Jewish antihero who is facing a dilemma and must decided whether to go into the family business and marry the boring girl next door or become an intellectual and marry one of the fascinating “Lawrence girls.”

The novel is considered a semi-autobiographical retelling of Leonard Woolf’s decision to become a writer, join the Bloomsbury Group and marry one of the Stephen sisters, Virginia.

Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1912
Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1912

Virginia Woolf herself called the Wise Virgins “a remarkable book” but its meager earnings prompted Leonard to abandon fiction and instead focus on nonfiction and journalism.

International Government

Published in 1916, International Government is a nonfiction book about how to prevent war.

The premise of the book states that the only way to prevent war is to have a system in place for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The book consists of two reports that Woolf wrote for the research department of the Fabian Society, which was a British socialist organization that Woolf was a member of.

Part one of the book covers international authority and the prevention of war, including topics like the causes of war, treaties, international law and tribunals.

Part two covers international government, including topics like international disagreements, cosmopolitan lawmaking, international standards, commerce and labor.

Part three consists of articles suggested for adoption by an international conference at the end of a war.

The book was well received when it was published. It was so influential that it helped shape British proposals for a League of Nations and was cited by British delegates at the Paris Peace Conference during the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles.

As a result of the success of the book, Woolf was appointed secretary to the Labour Party’s Advisory Committee on International Questions, which was a post he held until 1946.

The Future of Constantinople

Published in 1917, the Future of Constantinople discusses the future of Constantinople after the end of WWI.

The book proposes a form of international government in order to maintain peace in the region and protect Constantinople’s prosperity.

The chapters cover political and economic considerations, strategical considerations and the navigation of ships of war through the straits.

Co-operation and the Future of Industry

Published in 1918, Co-operation and the Future of Industry is about the history of the Co-operative Movement and its development into a democratic industrial system.

The book argues in favor of labor reform because, as Woolf states in the introduction, the industrial system continues to remain undemocratic in a world that is being gradually democratized.

Woolf argues that this puts all the power in the hands of the few rather than the hands of the people, leading workers to feel “that they have absolutely no control of the machine and very little even over the conditions of their employment.”

Economic Imperialism

Published in 1920, Economic Imperialism is about imperialism in Africa and Asia. In the introduction, Woolf states that there is a global movement to Europeanize the world.

The book argues that in Africa and Asia specifically, this has resulted not in colonization of these places but in a total conquest of these places which have now been subjected to direct European rule not in order to acquire control of the population but in order to further the economic interests of the conquerors.

Empire and Commerce in Africa

Published in 1920, Empire and Commerce in Africa is about imperialism in Africa.

The book argues that imperialism in Africa failed and that its economic gains are non existent, the impact on Africans themselves is disastrous and the possession of the African territory has not added to the military might of the imperial powers and probably made them even more vulnerable to attack.

Woolf also argues that he believes the competition between the various imperialist powers for control of Africa led to WWI and it might spark another world war unless drastic changes are made to colonial policy in Africa.

Socialism and Co-operation

Published in 1921, Socialism and Co-operation is about the socialist movement.

The book discusses the beliefs and foundations of socialism, the control of industry and commerce, the kind of society socialists should try to create and how to transition to such a society.

International Co-operative Trade

Published in 1922, International Co-operative Trade is about how to conduct business and trade using co-operative/socialist methods.

The book discusses the various forms of co-operative trade that the movement can develop and explores which ones might be most suitable for the different forms of international trade.

Imperialism and Civilization

Published in 1928, Imperialism and Civilization is about imperialism in Africa, Asia and Australia.

Woolf argues, in the introduction, that in the late 19th and early 20th century, Africa, Australia and Asiatic countries were conquered and subjected to the rule of the European state.

Woolf argues that while some places like Africa were subjected to direct rule, other places like Turkey, Afghanistan, Tibet and China were subjected to indirect rule.

Woolf goes on to say that in no other time in history has there been such a vast revolution than the conquest of Africa and Asia by Europe in less than 100 years.

After the Deluge: A Study in Communal Psychology

Published in 1931, 1939 and 1953, After the Deluge is a three volume series of books about contemporary political and social psychology.

The series attempts to investigate the relation between society’s beliefs and desires and contemporary events.

The first volume of the series covers democracy and democratic psychology and discusses the psychology and moral causes of WWI.

The second volume is about the rise of capitalism, communism, and fascism in Europe.

The third volume, which is titled Principia Politica, is about how the world has been bewitched by superstition and primitive beliefs.

Quack! Quack!

Published in 1935, Quack Quack is about the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy.

In the book, Woolf argues that in times of political and economic strife, the “quacks” make a comeback and with them comes the return of barbarism and a regression to primitive instincts.

Woolf examines the published texts of various fascist leaders, such as Mussolini and Hitler, and their recent rise in popularity and compares and contrasts them to ancient primitive chiefs and war-gods.

Barbarians at the Gate

Published in 1939, Barbarians at the Gate is an examination of the political powers in Europe and around the world and examines the rise of capitalism, communism, and fascism in Europe.

The War for Peace

Published in 1940, The War for Peace is about how to establish peace after a war.

In the book, Woolf lays out how to establish a system for the rule of international law and cooperation and a collective defense against international threats and aggression.

The book also explores the issues at stake in WWII and explains how peace can be established in the aftermath of the war.

A Calendar of Consolation: A Comforting Thought For Every Day of the Year

Published in 1967, A Calendar of Consolation is a selection of quotes intended to be comforting when experiencing grief or loss.

The book was compiled by Leonard Woolf and features quotes from sources such as Shakespeare, the Bible and poet Walter Savage Landor, among others.

Sources:
Catlin, G. (1954). Principia Politica. By Leonard Woolf. (London: Hogarth Press. 1953. Pp. 315. 25/–.) – The Vocabulary of Politics. BY T. D. Weldon. (Baltimore: Penguin Books. 1953. Pp. 199. 2/–.). American Political Science Review, 48(4), 1206-1206. doi:10.1017/S0003055400272985
Reynier, Christine. “Image as Text in Leonard Woolf’s ‘Quack, Quack in Politics.’” Open Edition Journals, journals.openedition.org/ebc/12285?lang=en
A Calendar of Consolation, selected by Leonard Woolf (1967).” Brontes Page Turners, brontespageturners.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/a-calendar-of-consolation-selected-by-leonard-woolf-1967/
After the Deluge: A Study of Communal Psychology.” The University of Chicago Press Journals, journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/intejethi.42.3.2989587
International Government.” Oxford Academic, academic.oup.com/book/32311/chapter-abstract/268542974?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Fromm, Harold. “Leonard Woolf and His Virgins.” The Hudson Review, vol. 38, no. 4, 1986, pp. 551–69. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/3851546. Accessed 10 Oct. 2022.
Leonard Woolf’s Forgotten Sri Lankan novel.” BBC, 12 May. 2014, bbc.com/news/magazine-27518833
Amarasinghe, Hiranya. “Re-Reading Leonard Woolf’s ‘Village in the Jungle.’” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, vol. 62, no. 2, 2017, pp. 115–26. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/45219031. Accessed 10 Oct. 2022.

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