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The Believer - The Death of a Civil Servant

Before he became the husband of Adeline Virginia Stephenlater a novelist of some considerable reputationLeonard Woolf was a cadet in the Ceylon Civil Service. At Cambridge, Woolf had been a member of the Apostles, the exclusive secret society that also included John Maynard Keynes and the philosopher G. E. Moore. But he didnt graduate from Cambridge with any particular distinction, and unlike his peers he didnt have very much money: he was one of nine children, and his father, a Queens Counsel, had died when he was eleven, of tuberculosis and workaholism. Woolf couldnt afford to read for the bar himselfthe registration fee alone was forty poundsand he wasnt especially confident that, as a Jew and an atheist, he was cut out for school teaching, which would have been the other conventional option. So in 1904 he took the British civil service examination. He placed sixty-ninth out of ninety-nine.