Woolf began work on The Voyage Out in 1910 and had finished an early draft by 1912. The novel had a long and difficult gestation and was not published until 1915. It was written during a period in which Woolf was especially psychologically vulnerable. She suffered from periods of depression and at one point attempted suicide. The resultant work contained the seeds of all that would blossom in her later work: the innovative narrative style, the focus on feminine consciousness, sexuality and death.
In 1981, Louise DeSalvo published an alternate version of The Voyage Out featuring its original title, Melymbrosia. Professor DeSalvo worked for seven years on the project of reconstructing the text of the novel as it might have appeared in 1912, before Woolf had begun serious revisions. She reviewed more than 1,000 manuscript pages from Woolf's private papers, dating the earlier versions of the work by small organizational clues such as the color of ink used or noticing where a pen had last left off writing. DeSalvo's Melymbrosia attempts to restore the text of the novel as Woolf had originally conceived it, which contained more candid political commentary on such issues as homosexuality, women's suffrage, and colonialism. According to DeSalvo, Woolf was "warned by colleagues that publishing such an outspoken indictment of Britain could prove disastrous to her fledgling career". The work was heavily revised until it became the novel now known as The Voyage Out, which omits much of the political candour of the original. Free eBook