The Waves, first published in 1931, is Virginia Woolf's most experimental novel. It consists of soliloquies spoken by the book's six characters: Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, and Louis. Also important is Percival, the seventh character, though readers never hear him speak in his own voice. The soliloquies that span the characters' lives are broken up by nine brief third-person interludes detailing a coastal scene at varying stages in a day from sunrise to sunset.
As the six characters or "voices" speak Woolf explores concepts of individuality, self and community. Each character is distinct, yet together they compose (as Ida Klitgård has put it) a gestalt about a silent central consciousness.
Although The Waves is not one of Virginia Woolf's most well-known works, it has gained something of a cult following in recent years, and some critics consider it underappreciated. Literary scholar Frank N. Magill ranked it one of the 200 best novels of all time in his reference book, Masterpieces of World Literature. In The Independent, British author Amy Sackville wrote that "as a reader, as a writer, I constantly return, for the lyricism of it, the melancholy, the humanity."
Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.
During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group.
Her most famous works include the novels Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929), with its famous dictum, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."