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As well as representing the spread of knowledge and the sharing of ideas so central to humanity and to humanism, this printing press – owned by Leonard and Virginia Woolf – is a reminder of the shared humanism of so many members of the Bloomsbury Group. Though never a member of the Union of Ethical Societies (now Humanists UK), in which her father Leslie Stephen had been a leading figure, Virginia Woolf was a lifelong humanist. Her husband Leonard shared her humanism, and in his own autobiographical writings provided vivid descriptions of the ideals of freedom of thought, truth and beauty, and creative friendship which underpinned the Bloomsbury circle. They were deeply inspired by the ideas of friend and fellow humanist G.E. Moore, who Leonard Woolf credited with ‘substituting for the religious and philosophical nightmares… the fresh air and pure light of plain common sense’.

The Woolfs established the Hogarth Press (named after their home in Richmond) in 1917, and their first publication was Two Stories, featuring one story by each of them. During its first five years, the Hogarth Press published works by writers including E.M. Forster and Sigmund Freud. This press is believed to have been acquired by the Woolfs in 1921, and taken with them when they moved to 52 Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury.

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