'He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge to correct the opinions of others. Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole - a portrait of a man, a sketch of an age, a theory of the art of writing.' So Virginia Woolf described the 'common reader' for whom she wrote. This is her second series of essays, first published in 1932. Here she turns her brilliant eye on Lord Chesterfield's letters, the novels of George Gissing, the poetry of Donne: we meet Dr Burney and Beau Brummell, Christina Rossetti, Geraldine Jewsbury, Jane Carlyle, Mary Wollstonecraft and many others.