Vanessa and Virginia: recreating Virginia Woolf for a popular audience

Impact: Cultural, Creative Impact, Economic, Commercial Impact


Editorial and biographical research on the work of Virginia Woolf, carried out primarily by Susan Sellers, fed directly into the composition of Vanessa and Virginia, a novel by Sellers about Woolf’s relationship with her sister. In 2008 Vanessa and Virginia was published by a small independent publisher set up in 2006 in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. It became the press’s most commercially successful publication and ensured its early economic viability. The novel was subsequently published in North America and translated into more than a dozen languages. It was also turned into a successful, internationally-staged play. This case study therefore claims several types of impact: (1) exporting the cultural heritage of the UK and stimulating international public interest in Woolf; (2) generating economic prosperity for a small entrepreneurial business in a remote part of Scotland, and for the creative industries (theatre and international publishing) more widely; (3) inspiring and facilitating the work of other cultural practitioners; (4) enriching cultural life in the UK and abroad. The users of this research are: the directors of an independent publishing company; translators and international publishing houses; the director, producer and actors of a touring theatre company; the reading and theatre-going public.
Impact statusClosed
Category of impactCultural, Creative Impact, Economic, Commercial Impact


  • REF2014 case study