History and By-Laws


The origins of the International Virginia Woolf Society can be fittingly traced to the 1970 Modern Language Convention and a seminar entitled “The Uses of the Manuscripts in Virginia Woolf Studies.” Before the Convention, J.J. Wilson of Sonoma State College–the organizer of the seminar–wrote to the participants: “To my knowledge this will be the first time Virginia Woolf scholars have gotten together and if we “only connect” one of the underlying purposes of the seminar will be fulfilled.” Attendance at this first session was limited to 35 participants, but out of that initial “connection” was to come a thriving international society that, by 1996, had grown to a membership of 458 people in 18 countries. As of July 1998, the Society has 582 members, representing 26 different countries. By 1973, Wilson, with the help of Peggy Comstock, Rebecca Davidson, Ellen Hawkes and Lucio Ruotolo, had founded a newsletter, theVirginia Woolf Miscellany. At Morris Beja’s suggestion, in the fall of 1975, Madeline (Hummel) Moore, James Naremore, and he circulated letters to scholars they felt might be interested in forming a society devoted to the study of Virginia Woolf and the writers of Bloomsbury. An exploratory meeting was held at the MLA Convention is San Francisco on December 27, 1975. From that meeting, a steering committee for the Society was formed, including Beja, Hummel, Wilson, and Ruotolo among its members. Largely through the efforts of Beja, the Virginia Woolf Society was incorporated in Ohio on March 30, 1976, with Beja, Wilson, Hummel and Sallie Sears as trustees. With the help of Wilson and the Miscellany, the Woolf Society was able to send out its first mailing in the spring of 1976. Dues for founding members of the Society were $5.00, with a reduced rate of $2.00 for students. 

By November 10, 1976, the Virginia Woolf Society had expanded to 81 members in the United States and a number of other countries, and the first official meeting was planned for the MLA Convention in New York. For this meeting a slate of officers was presented, including Carolyn Heilbrun as President, Elaine Unkeless as Vice-President, Morris Beja as Executive Secretary and a number of others for the Board of Trustees. Other events planned at this convention included three special sessions on Woolf and a party. It was during Carolyn Heilbrun’s term as President of the MLA that the Society officially became an allied organization. 

In 1982, the Society formalized its relation to theVirginia Woolf Miscellany, contributing a portion of its dues in support of this publication. To this day, although the Miscellany has no set subscription fee, the Virginia Woolf Society makes an annual donation to its expenses and members of the Society automatically receive its three issues a year. A Society column appeared for the first time in the Spring 1983 issue (VWM 20). The Society has regularly organized two sessions at each MLA Convention. Voting for the next year’s session took place annually at each Convention until 1994, when Woolf members on email were also able to register their votes electronically. In 1995, to give all members equal opportunity to voice their opinions, it was determined that the Society would send out a call for topics in the spring, circulate a ballot for voting in the fall, and collect returned ballots by mail, email, or at the MLA Convention with the deadline of December 31 of the year. As a result of these new procedures, over 120 people voted on the topics for the 1996 MLA Convention. At the 1994 and 1995 annual Woolf conferences, the President of the Society, Melba Cuddy-Keane, presented draft versions of by-laws for discussion and, after revision, the by-laws of the Society were approved by 106 out of 110 returned ballots in a mail-in vote in December 1995. In May 1996, the Society’s allied organization status with the Modern Language Association of America was officially renewed for seven years. 

To recognize the substantial international membership in the Society (almost 1/4 of the total membership) and the increasing importance of global scholarship, in December 1996, members of the Society approved, by an overwhelming majority, an official change in name to the International Virginia Woolf Society. 


The original IVWS website was created in 1996 by Melba Cuddy-Keane, when she was President of the Society, using the most basic of editing programmes. She has continued to manage this site, hosted by the University of Toronto, up to the present time. In 1998, Alan C. W. Chong gave the site a professional look, and maintained its operations until 2008. Since 2008, this work has been undertaken by Alexandra Nica, who integrated membership payments through PayPal and redesigned the site 2015.

The WordPress IVWS website (created and launched in 2021) was initiated by Ann Martin in 2020, when she was Vice President of the Society. She organized a working group involving Benjamin Hagen, Amanda Golden, Erica Delsandro, and Paula Maggio. Benjamin Hagen and Amanda Golden designed and completed the current site in 2021.


Article I: Name 
Sec. 1 The name of this organization shall be the International Virginia Woolf Society.  

Article II: Purpose
Sec. 1. The purpose of this Society shall be to foster and encourage the scholarly study of, critical attention to, and general interest in, the work and career of Virginia Woolf, and to facilitate ways in which all people interested in her writings–scholars, critics, teachers, students, and common readers–may learn from one another, meet together, contact each other, and help one another. 
Sec. 2. An important function of the Society shall be the sponsorship of the International Virginia Woolf Society Sessions at the annual MLA Conventions. 
Sec. 3. The organization is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code. Upon the dissolution of this organization, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose.

Article III: Membership
Sec. 1. Any individual, business, educational institution, or corporation interested in the aims of the International Virginia Woolf Society may join it. 
Sec. 2. Membership in this Society shall be through payment of annual dues, according to schedules determined by the Bi-Annual General Meeting of the Society. 
Sec. 3. Membership in the Society shall include a subscription to the Virginia Woolf Miscellany
Sec. 4. A member who has not paid dues for two years shall be classified as not in good standing. 

Article IV: Privileges
Sec. 1. All members in good standing, in accordance with the scale of dues set at the Annual General Meeting, shall have the right to stand for office, to vote for officers of the Society, to propose and vote on session topics for the MLA Conventions, to propose to serve as a chair or organizer of an MLA session, to receive all publications issued by the Society, and to receive the Virginia Woolf Miscellany

Article V: Officers 
Sec. 1. The officers of the Society shall be a President, a Vice President, a Secretary-Treasurer, and a Bibliographer-Historian, at least one Membership Coordinator, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany (ex officio). 
Sec. 2. An Advisory Board, consisting between three and five elected members-at-large, shall represent the specialized interests of Society members such as common readers, students, independent scholars, and/or international members. These members-at-large shall be elected by the same process as the elected officers of the Society and shall serve the same term. Their primary responsibilities shall be to publicize the Society, develop outreach programs and recruit membership in consultation with the officers of the Society. 
Sec. 3. Officers and members of the advisory board shall serve without compensation. They shall be entitled to reimbursement for legitimate Society expenses 
Sec. 4. A vacancy in any of these offices occurring during the incumbent’s term of office because of illness, death, resignation, or any other reason shall be filled by a volunteer chosen by the remaining officers of the Society until such time as a new election can be held. 
Sec. 5. The officers shall perform the following duties: 

  1. The President shall serve as the Society’s chief ambassador. The President shall call, arrange the agenda for, and preside at the Annual General Meeting and shall call and preside at all other Society meetings (including the annual MLA party) unless unable to do so, in which case the Vice President shall preside. The President shall be responsible for organizing the International Virginia Woolf Society Sessions at the annual MLA Convention, including the annual call for proposed session topics from the membership, the preparation of the ballot, and the membership vote on proposed sessions; and shall work with session chairs to arrange the program and meet all MLA deadlines. The President shall maintain the Society’s official files for purposes of the MLA Review of Allied Organizations, which occurs every seven years, and shall be responsible for maintaining the Society’s good standing with the MLA and, should it fall within their term, for presenting the Society’s records and activities for purposes of that review. The President shall contribute one or two IVWS columns each year to the Virginia Woolf Miscellany and regularly contribute copy to the IVWS Newsletter. The President shall manage the exchange of memberships with sister Virginia Woolf societies in France, Japan, and Great Britain and receive their publications on behalf of the IVWS. The President shall consult closely with the other officers throughout the term on dues, budgetary, and other issues and perform miscellaneous tasks as required. The President shall be responsible for the election of the next executive, including the call for nominations and the voting procedures; for presenting proposals for, and conducting the balloting on, any changes to the bylaws; and for ensuring that the Society’s procedures are in accordance with these by-laws. The President, in concert with the other officers, shall maintain the Society’s liaisons with the Virginia Woolf Miscellany and the Virginia Woolf Conference. 
  2. The Vice President shall write and/or solicit copy for, edit, and produce printer-ready masters for between one and three Newsletters per year and, if necessary, convey these to the Secretary-Treasurer for duplicating and mailing. The Vice President may periodically write the Society column for the Virginia Woolf Miscellany, in rotation with the President and Historian-Bibliographer, and oversee its rotation; assist in handling correspondence with Society members and others; negotiate advertising arrangements using a cost table designed in consultation with the other officers; promote and publicize the Society through management of the IVWS website; oversee membership drives at MLA, the annual Virginia Woolf conference, and other venues; and preside at Society meetings in the event that the President is unable to attend. 
  3. The Secretary-Treasurer shall maintain the Directory and Mailing List of members-in-good-standing; receive and disburse monies on behalf of the Society and keep records of all monies received and disbursed; prepare and publish an annual report of the Society’s finances; and distribute to the membership all publications of the Society, including the Newsletters, Membership Directory, Annual Bibliography, Dues Notices, and Ballots. 
  4. The Historian-Bibliographer shall prepare and distribute the annual bibliography of Woolf Studies and shall maintain an on-going history of the organization. 
  5. The Membership Coordinator(s) shall keep records of dates and renewal of membership; answer emails regarding membership; coordinate the membership lists between the Virginia Woolf Miscellany, Newsletter, Treasurer and IVWS Website; and set up the password and remind members of the password every six months.
  6. The Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Woolf Miscellany shall serve as the liaison between the Virginia Woolf Miscellany and the International Woolf Society, and shall use the journal as a platform for communication with members as well as for the dissemination of scholarly and artistic work. The Editor-in-Chief will oversee the publication of at least two issues of the Miscellany per year, each containing approximately eight short scholarly articles as well as the Society Column, news, calls, events, and other items of interest. The Editor-in-Chief may also invite proposals for special issues.

Sec. 6. The officers and the members of the Advisory Board shall be elected tri-annually by the Society membership, by mail or e-mail, from a slate of nominees. The election shall be conducted during the month of May and results shall be reported by June 15th. Names of nominees may be submitted by any member of the Society. Terms of office shall be three years, beginning January 1st. 

Article VI: Meetings 
Sec. 1. The bi-annual general meetings shall be held respectively at the annual conference on Virginia Woolf and in conjunction with the MLA convention. If in a calendar year there is no annual conference on Virginia Woolf, then there shall be only one general meeting which shall be held in conjunction with the MLA convention. 

Article VII: Funds and Liabilities 
Sec. 1. The funds of this Society shall be collected and dispersed by the Secretary-Treasurer, for the Society’s needs and lawful expenditures. Disbursement of the Society’s funds will be in accordance with Article Fifth of the Articles of Incorporation of the International Virginia Woolf Society. 
Sec. 2. No member of the Society shall be liable except for the payment of dues. 

Article IX: Procedures 
Sec. 1. Amendment to these by-laws shall be voted upon, by mail, e-mail, or vote at the bi-annual general meetings, by the full membership; approval shall require a two-thirds majority of those voting. Amendments may be proposed by the officers of the Society, or by petition signed by twenty or more Society members in good standing. Amendments to these by-laws are subject to a three-month open discussion period in public forums prior to the vote.

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