Everyone is welcome to join the first meeting of the Leonard Woolf Society!

A Retrospective of the Life and Work of Leonard Woolf


Leonard Woolf (25 November 1880 – 14 August 1969) is perhaps best known as the ‘husband’ of Virginia Woolf. Yet he was active himself as a writer, journalist, publisher (with the famous Hogarth Press), and political theorist.

Woolf was a member of the Labour Party and Fabian Society and openly opposed Britain’s involvement in the First World War. His two Fabian reports on international government  in 1916 subsequently became part of the basis for the League of Nations.


Was Leonard Woolf perhaps the best of British imperialists?
This symposium will attempt to answer this and many more questions about the life and work of Leonard Woolf. It will focus on Woolf’s iconic novel The Village in the Jungle (1913), which is based on his time as a cadet in the Ceylon Civil Service in Sri Lanka between 1904 and 1912.

When: Friday 24 May 2013, 13:00 – 19:00
Where: Room G37, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

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1.00 pm Registration


1.30 pm Introduction Dr Shihan de Silva (Senior Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies)
1.35 pm Mayor of Camden (tbc)
1.40 pm High Commissioner for Sri Lanka (tbc)
1.45 pm Leonard Woolf Society Dr Surendra Paul (Chairman, Leonard Woolf Society)

Panel 1 Chair: Dr Richard Espley (Senate House Library, University of London)

2.00 pm Critiquing Imperial Violence: From The Village in the Jungle (1913) to
Economic Imperialism (1920)
Dominic Davies (University of Oxford)

2.30 pm Leonard Woolf: the best of British imperialists?
William Clarance (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)

3.00 pm Fact and Fiction in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka: Leonard Woolf’s
Autobiography and The Village in the Jungle
Dr Shihan de Silva (Institute of Commonwealth Studies) &
Dr Hemal Jayasuriya (Aristotelian Society)

Panel 2 Chair: Dr Richard Espley (Senate House Library, University of London)

4.00 pm Colonial capitalist development in Leonard Woolf’s The Village in the Jungle
Nicola Robinson (University of York)

4.30 pm “Their greasy little notebooks”: Debt and the Headman in The Village in the Jungle
Priyasha Mukhopadhyay (University of Oxford)

5.00 pm The Woolfs and the Women’s Co-operative Guild
Dr Alice Wood (Portsmouth University)

Panel 3 Chair: Nathan Sivasambu (Leonard Woolf Society)

6.00 pm A View from an Indian Ocean Verandah
Professor Elleke Boehmer (Professor of World Literature in English, University of Oxford)

6.30 pm Reading from Chris Ondaatje’s Woolf in Ceylon: an imperial journey in the
shadow of Leonard Woolf, 1904-1911
Pramila Muthiah (Secretary, Leonard Woolf Society)

6.40 pm Closing remarks
Cecil Woolf, Honorary President, Leonard Woolf Society

Organised by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. Find out more here.