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Record revealed

Virginia Woolf’s death duty record

Death duty records might sound formal and dry, but can reveal a great deal about a person’s true feelings. What can we learn about the loves and friendships of Bloomsbury Group author Virginia Woolf from whom she left her life's labours to?

Image 1 of 5

A printed form filled in with black ink.

Front cover of the death duty record of Virginia Woolf.

Partial transcript


Surname: WOOLF

Christian Names: Adeline Virginia

Address: Rodmell

DATE OF DEATH: 28 March 1941

Will: Executor: L. S. Woolf

REVIEWED: Date: 17 APR 142

Image 2 of 5

Printed form filled in with typewritten text.

Inland revenue form listing the value of the manuscript bequest to Vita Sackville-West (Hon. Mrs. Harold Nicholson).

Partial transcript

Name of the beneficiary

Hon. Mrs. Harold Nicholson

Relationship of beneficiary to the testator or intestate –in the words of the Act, as overleaf

Stranger in blood

Nature of the bequest: if residue, state what part or share (more space if required overleaf)


Price of stocks and date of valuation




Rate of duty per cent.


Amount of duty


Image 3 of 5

Printed form filled in with typewritten text and signed in green ink.

Estate duty form completed and signed by Leonard Woolf.

Partial transcript

Inland Revenue, Estate Duty

In the Estate passing on the death of ADELINE VIRGINIA WOOLF deceased.

  1. I, LEONARD SIDNEY WOOLF of Monks House, Rodmell near Lewes in the County of Sussex, Publisher

make oath and say as follows :

  1. This Deceased. late of Monks House, Rodmell aforesaid died on the 28th day of March 1941, aged 59.
  2. Probate of her Will was granted to me as the Principal Registry of the Probate Division of the High Court of Justice on the 19th day of August 1941.
  3. An Inland Revenue Affidavit has been delivered by me

Reply to Dollman & Pritchard of 37 Mecklenburgh Square London W.C.1.

All of which is true to the best of my knowledge and belief

Leonard Sidney Woolf

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Typed letter headed 'Harry Warman, Estate Agent, Surveyor and Valuer'.

Valuation of property and property contents of Virginia and Leonard's home, Monks House.

Partial transcript

Dear Sirs,

Mrs A. Woolf Deceased,

In accordance with your instructions of the 17th ulto I visited "Monks House” Rodmell, Near Lewes, Sussex., on the 22nd ulto and inspected the Furniture, effects, books, jewellery etc at the dwelling house and outbuildings, a large quantity of books in a store and a quantity of household furniture stored in two rooms at Place Farm... I suggest a fair and reasonable value of that portion of these goods owned by the late Mrs Virginia Woolf is half the value of the Household Furniture, effects and books plus the value of the jewellery and manuscript as under;–

Value of whole of Household Furniture and effects and books £497.0 0d

Half value say £249.0.0d

Value of Jewellery 7.15.0d
Value of Manuscript entitled "Mrs Dalloway" 50. 0. 0d

£306. 15. 0d

And I hereby estimate the value of the Household Furniture and effects, Jewellery, books and manuscript being part of the Estate of the late Mrs Virginia Woolf at the sum of Three hundred and six pounds fifteen shillings. (£306, 15, 0d)

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Printed form with a table filled in in blue and red pen.

Details of the duty due on various bequests by Virginia to important people in her life.

Partial transcript

Particulars of claim for duty or of return of duty.

Deed by Will d. 27 July 30.

1) £100 to sis hus. Clive Bell [& jewellery]

2) £50 each to Adrian L Stephen

Clive Bell (hus. Of sister)

Duncan Grant (str)

3) £10 each to Nellie Boxall

4) MS of book to be selected by husb. to Hon. Mrs. Harold Nicholson

5) RE (real estate) & PE (personal estate) to husb.

Why this record matters

Date: 1941–1942

Catalogue reference: IR 59/805

Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882–1941), better known as Virginia Woolf, was a modernist author and part of the intellectual Bloomsbury Group. She started writing from 1900, pioneering a progressive style that included feminist themes and stream-of-consciousness narration. Some of her best-known novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927).

Virginia married Leonard Woolf in 1912 and they had a long, loving relationship. Together they founded the Hogarth Press, which published much of her work. Virginia also had romantic relationships with women, including aristocratic author Vita Sackville-West. Virginia wrote her 1928 novel Orlando about Vita, since described as the ‘longest and most charming love letter in literature'. It's possible to trace their relationship in their own words.

Tormented throughout her life by her mental health, Virginia experienced severe depression, and was briefly institutionalised. She died by suicide on 28 March 1941, aged 59.

This death duty record confirms some of the key relationships in Virginia’s life. It is from a select series of death duty records relating to well-known people. These were originally created to capture how much death duty was paid on the estate of someone who died, similar to current inheritance tax records. Death duty accounts often include the name of the deceased, their address and last occupation, the value of their estate, and information about the beneficiaries of the deceased’s will. This was essentially part of the probate process, and documents Virginia’s wealth at the time of death from a variety of sources, including book royalties, shares and possessions.

Virginia’s occupation is given at times as ‘Author’ and at other times as ‘Married Woman’. Leonard and Virginia’s joint income from the Hogarth Press was also recorded. Although Virginia did not have great aristocratic wealth and land, the Woolfs’ assets, property and investments are notable. Leonard was executor for her estate. A note on the record suggests her will was originally filed in July 1930.

Virginia left various important people in her life money and possessions. Notable are other key Bloomsbury Group figures: her brother Adrian Stephen, sister Vanessa Bell and artist Duncan Grant. Another interesting addition is Nellie Boxhall, whom she employed as a domestic servant. The pair had fallen out after Nellie was accused of stealing, but Virginia still chose to recognise her.

Vita and Virginia’s intense relationship was clearly still important to Virginia at the end of her life. Described on the accounts as a ‘Stranger in blood’, the death duty record notes that Vita was gifted a manuscript selected by Leonard. He chose Mrs Dalloway, valued at £50. This is not as odd as it may seem – Virginia had given Vita the original manuscript of Orlando when it was written. Leonard himself received Virginia’s real estate and the rest of her personal estate.

Virginia is often remembered for her great literary works and untimely death. Formal archive records such as this offer telling insights into her more intimate relationships.