'A good essay must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in, not out.' According to Virginia Woolf, the goal of the essay 'is simply that it should give pleasure...It should lay us under a spell with its first word, and we should only wake, refreshed, with its last.' One of the best practitioners of the art she analysed so rewardingly, Woolf displayed her essay-writing skills across a wide range of subjects, with all the craftsmanship, substance, and rich allure of her novels. This selection brings together thirty of her best essays, including the famous 'Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown', a clarion call for modern fiction. She discusses the arts of writing and of reading, and the particular role and reputation of women writers. She writes movingly about her father and the art of biography, and of the London scene in the early decades of the twentieth century. Overall, these pieces are as indispensable to an understanding of this great writer as they are enchanting in their own right.