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Register of the Virna Woods Collection, 1870-1956
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The Virna Woods Collection contains manuscripts of her plays, prose and poetry, as well as memorabilia, photographs, correspondence and biographical materials relating to Ms. Woods.
Virna Woods (1864-1903) was an American poet, playwright and novelist. Born to machinist, John B. Woods (1832-1905) and Virginia Pidgeon Woods (1837-1914), she grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, where she attended public high school and normal school. At age eighteen she came with her family to Sacramento, California (1883), where her father worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad and her older sister, Anna, became a city librarian. Virna taught in various Sacramento and El Dorado County schools (1884-1889), while at the same time writing poetry and submitting her work for publication. Woods' mother was active in the Women's Christian Temperance Movement and the family apparently spent some time each year enjoying the liquor-free Chautauquas at Pacific Grove. There Virna Woods gave public readings of some of her earlier poems. By 1887 she had published poetry in The Overland Monthly, The Chautauquan and other periodicals of the day. Her work won first prize in a competition sponsored by the Magazine of Poetry (1890) and the following year she published a first volume, The Amazons, a verse play set in ancient Greece. The young author had a flair for languages and is said to have been fluent in French, Italian, Latin and Greek. She had a particular affinity for French, initiating correspondence with several French men of letters as early as 1889 and ultimately composing at least one play, Un chevalier errant, in French.
Collection is open for research.