Weidenfeld & Nicolson win Ella Bucknall’s captivating graphic biography of Virgina Woolf

Lettice Franklin, Publishing Director at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, has acquired UK & Commonwealth rights in Ella Bucknall’s Virginia Woolf: A Graphic Biography at auction from Harriet Moore at David Higham. 


North American rights in the book have been pre-empted by Naomi Gibbs at Pantheon. French rights have been pre-empted by Joachim Schnerf at Editions Grasset.  Spanish rights have been pre-empted by Lola Martínez de Albornoz at Lumen. German rights have been sold at auction to Antje Röttgers at Rowohlt. 


Virginia Woolf: A Graphic Biography tells the life of Virginia Woolf afresh in graphic form. From Woolf’s earliest memoirs of the sound of the sea in St Ives, to her final submersion in the River Ouse, Bucknall tells the story of Woolf’s life, recalling deaths and marriages, friendships and rivalries, creative droughts and floods of inspiration. Combining her distinctive and intricate illustrations, with a scholar’s intellect and understanding of Woolf’s life and works, Bucknall’s is a completely original approach to this most beloved author, and a pioneering contribution to the biography genre. 


Lettice Franklin, editor, said: ‘Ella Bucknall’s pages captured my heart, brain and eye in a way that no project has done before. This book does so much at once. It is a fresh, fascinating, engaged and deeply scholarly response to Virginia Woolf’s work. It is a wildly imaginative piece of storytelling about one woman’s life. It is a thing of visual beauty. And it introduces to a major new talent in Ella Bucknall, an exceptionally skilled illustrator, storyteller, and biographer. I feel sure that her book will be cherished by readers that love Virginia Woolf; readers that love graphic novels or biographies; readers looking to be transported by the very best storytelling.’ 


Ella Bucknall, author, said: ‘As an illustrator, a graphic biography felt like the most natural way for me to tell the story of Virginia Woolf’s life, but it is also perfect for Virginia; it is irreverent, by virtue of its form. I fell in love with Woolf’s writing first at university, but – from the impression I had of her – it took me by surprise, too, because it was so radical and joyful and sensual. In my biography, I wanted to dispel some of the famous myths about Virginia Woolf and show instead what she herself believed to be ‘a good draught of human life…with much champagne in it.’’ 



Harriet Moore, agent, said: ‘I am so pleased that Ella Bucknall and her breath-taking work of beauty and bold intellect has found the perfect home with Lettice Franklin at W&N, who engaged with Ella’s serious questions about form, sensation, and how we write women’s lives, with an irresistible curiosity and vigour. I can’t wait for readers to encounter Ella’s intricate imagination and narrative flair.’ 


Ella Bucknall is a writer and illustrator currently studying for an LAHP-funded PhD in Creative Writing at King’s College London. Prior to an MA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts, she was awarded a First in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. She has taught a seminar class on Virginia Woolf to undergraduate Liberal Arts students at Wells College, New York. She is the founding editor of Whip zine, a magazine of political cartoons and satirical writing by women, which has been featured in Vogue, It’s Nice That, I News, the BBC, and Riposte magazine, amongst others. In 2018, she was included in The Inking Woman: 250 Years of Women Cartoon and Comic Artists in Britain, published by Myriad Editions. She has written for the TLS reviewing graphic novels, and for I News on women in cartooning. She has worked at Waterstones in Manchester, Daunt Books and Village Books in Dulwich. Virginia Woolf: A Graphic Biography is her first book.