Two Stories, written and printed by Virginia and Leonard Woolf


Two Stories is the first publication produced by the Hogarth Press, the publishing house established by Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1917. The title page states ‘Publication No. 1’ in the top-left corner.

Entirely written and printed by the Woolfs, it contains the short stories ‘Three Jews’ by Leonard and ‘The Mark on the Wall’ by Virginia.

Establishing the Hogarth Press

In March 1917, the Woolfs walked along Farringdon Street, London, and purchased a printing machine, materials and an instruction booklet from Excelsior Printing Supply Company. The purchase was impulsive, but they had been discussing the idea of setting up a printing press since autumn 1916. Although the Woolfs were enthusiastic and absorbed by the work, their first publication shows some signs of amateurism such as irregular spacing and blotted ink. As Hermione Lee highlights, however, the Woolfs quickly developed into professional printers.[1]

It took two and a half months to print 150 copies of Two Stories, which was released for sale in July 1917. Because the printing process was all-consuming, Virginia did not compose ‘The Mark on the Wall’ until the printing of Leonard’s story was complete. The 32 pages were sewn together and bound with paper covers by hand. Being bound on an ad-hoc basis, different covers exist: the British Library’s copy is bound in a blue weave-textured material.

Dora Carrington’s illustrations

Dora Carrington, a British artist trained at the Slade School of Art, designed the four woodcut illustrations that accompany Two Stories. Small yet detailed, Virginia told Carrington that she liked best the two woodcut prints for ‘The Mark on the Wall’. Pleased by their first artistic collaboration, Woolf wrote that the press ‘is specially good at printing pictures, and we see that we must make a practice of always having pictures’.[2]

Carrington subsequently worked on other early cover designs and illustrations for the Hogarth Press.

[1] See Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (London: Vintage, 1997), pp. 362–67.

[2] Nigel Nicolson, The Letters of Virginia Woolf (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976), Vol 2, pp. 162–63. Letter dates 13 July 1917.

Full title:
Two Stories. Written and printed by Virginia Woolf and L. S. Woolf. (Three Jews, by L. S. Woolf. The Mark on the Wall, by Virginia Woolf.)
1917, The Hogarth Press, Paradise Road, Richmond, London
Hogarth Press
Pamphlet / Illustration / Image
Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, Dora Carrington
Usage terms

Virginia Woolf: © The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Virginia Woolf. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

Leonard Woolf: © The University of Sussex and The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Leonard Woolf. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

Dora Carrington: This material is in the Public Domain.

Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The Hogarth Press

Article by:
Duncan Heyes
Capturing and creating the modern

Virginia and Leonard Woolf set up the Hogarth Press in 1917 and published works by key modernist writers as well important works in translation. Duncan Heyes assesses the contribution that the Hogarth Press made to modernism and to British literary culture.

Too much suicide?

Article by:
Lyndall Gordon
Gender and sexuality

Narratives of Virginia Woolf’s life often place great emphasis on her depression and suicide. Lyndall Gordon considers the way this has overshadowed Woolf’s legacy, and clouded her reputation as a seminal novelist, feminist, and politicized intellectual.

Related collection items

Related people