Katherine’s friendship with Virginia Woolf was an extraordinary blend of
intimacy, rivalry and mutual admiration. Artistically, they
were intimates. Culturally they were hemispheres apart.
Stephens was born into the inner circle of London intelligentsia. She taught herself to write in her father’s
library and remembered George Eliot and Henry James visiting when she was a
child. Like Katherine she was also a precise recorder of her inner world. Unlike
Katherine, she retreated from the outer world.
If the intensity of her
novel writing left her fragile, Virginia’s
sense of class was robust. On meeting Katherine, she wrote:
“I’m a little shocked at her commonness at first sight. However, when this
diminishes, she is so intelligent and inscrutable that she repays friendship.”