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Written for Virginia Woolf's intimate friend, the charismatic, bisexual writers Vita Sackville-West, Orlando is a playful mock 'biography' of a chameleon-like historical figure who changes sex and identity at will. First masculine, then feminine, Orlando begins life as a young sixteenth-century nobleman, then gallops through the centuries to end up as a woman writer in Virginia Woolf's own time.
A wry commentary on gender roles and modes of history, Orlando is also, in Woolf's own words, a light-hearted 'writer's holiday' which delights in its ambiguity and capriciousness.