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Paris Press is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) literary press publishing groundbreaking work by women writers that has been overlooked by the independent and mainstream publishing worlds. Founded in 1995, Paris Press releases one to two books per year, and sponsors educational-outreach programs for our front and backlist titles. We value work that is daring in style and in its courage to speak truthfully about society, culture, history, and the human heart.


On Being Ill With Notes From Sick Rooms

By Virginia Woolf and Julia Stephen
Introduction to On Being Ill by Hermione Lee
Introduction to Notes from Sick Rooms by Mark Hussey
Afterword by Rita Charon
On Being Ill

"To bring together Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill and Julia Stephen’s Notes From Sick Rooms is a brilliant idea. The juxtaposition of Woolf’s essay from 1926 and her mother’s instruction manual from 1883 presents a family resemblance and a contrast, both striking. Readers are likely to feel some version of what Rita Charon in her luminous afterword calls “precarious inner balance”. Charon, a physician instrumental in the Narrative Medicine movement, also refers to “the necessary equilibrium between knowledge and feeling”. But one may not share Charon’s laudable goal of bringing such balance to her encounters with patients, and one need not be a doctor or a patient to find this slim volume spellbinding."

— Rachel Hadas, The Times Literary Supplement

"In 2002, Paris Press, the Ashfield, Mass., nonprofit publisher, rescued a little-known work by Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill…. To mark the first decade in print of the Paris Press edition, the press is reissuing On Being Ill in November in paperback for the first time in an expanded edition (to be reviewed in PW’s Oct. 15 issue)—and as its first e-book, due out later this year…"
But the new paperback goes beyond reproducing the 2002 edition. It includes another long out-of-print essay, Notes from Sick Rooms by Woolf’s mother, Julia Stephen, which was originally published in 1883 by Smith, Elder & Co. (Charlotte Brontë’s publisher). For Paris Press director Jan Freeman, the addition of the new material—which also includes an introduction to Notes from Sick Rooms by Woolf scholar Mark Hussey and an afterword by physician Rita Charon—has transformed the book into a 'conversation in text' between Woolf and her mother (who died when Woolf was 13), patient and nurse. 'There are wonderful parallels between the two texts,' said Freeman. 'You learn about Woolf by reading Notes from Sick Rooms, and you learn about Woolf’s mother’s life. There’s a familiarity in [Woolf’s mother’s] voice. Woolf didn’t become a writer exclusively from the influence of her father.'…"

— Judith Rosen, Publisher's Weekly Daily, Oct. 5, 2012  Read the full review.

Published together for the first time, Virginia Woolf and her mother, Julia Stephen, create a literary conversation between parent and child, patient and care giver, from the vantage points each experienced in the world of illness. By turns poignant and humorous, compassionate and direct, On Being Ill with Notes from Sick Rooms presents Woolf's writing style and her life in a new light, while Stephen's tone and wit suggest a stylistic familial resemblance that goes beyond the physical appearance of mother and daughter.

On Being Ill with Notes from Sick Rooms includes an Introduction to Notes from Sick Rooms by Mark Hussey, founding editor of Woolf Studies Annual; a magnificent Afterword by Rita Charon, physician and founder and director of the Program of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University; and Hermione Lee¹s brilliant Introduction to On Being Ill from the 2002 edition. Order Now!

Limited Hand-Bound Editions

On Being Ill Limited Editions

For generous donations, exquisite letterpress limited, hand-bound editions of Paris Press's first printing of On Being Ill are available.

To see the selection of limited editions, click here.

Zdena Berger/Tell Me Another Morning Freeman, Bull, Wojick/Sisters: An Anthology Bryher/The Heart of Artemis
Bryher/The Player's Boy Bryher/Visa For Avalon Muriel Rukeyser/The Life of Poetry
Muriel Rukeyser/Houdini Muriel Rukeyser/The Orgy Ruth Stone/Ordinary Words
Ruth Stone/Simplicity Virginia Woolf/On Being Ill Martha Nell Smith and Ellen Louise Hart/Open Me Carefully
Elizabeth Cady Stanton/Solitude of Self Jan Freeman/Simon Says Jan Freeman/Autumn Sequence
Adrian Oktenberg/The Bosnia Elegies