Her readings sensitive, her prose style elegant, authoritative and at times thoroughly opinionated, who better equipped than Virginia Woolf to ruminate on the art of fiction? In this selection of lesser-known essays on reading and storytelling, Woolf turns her critical gaze on treasured favourites including 'the four great women novelists - Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot', and unearths some less familiar talents. Her discussion of differing approaches to reading is characteristically forward-thinking, and pinpoints the joys of this favourite pastime, in all its guises. 'Here, then, very briefly and with inevitable simplification, an attempt is made to show the mind at work upon a shelf full of novels and to watch it as it chooses and rejects, making itself a dwelling-place in accordance with its own appetites. Of these appetites, perhaps, the simplest is the desire to believe wholly and entirely in something which is fictitious.'