Virginia Woolf and The Judicial Imagination

39 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2012 Last revised: 1 May 2013

Date Written: April 11, 2012


Envisage courts of law integrating best judgment with the gift of imagination. What if our legal system could be administered from a place of connected empathy? How could such a quantum shift in judicial attitude work in reality? Drawing on passages from 'Mrs Dalloway' and 'To the Lighthouse', Virginia Woolf and The Judicial Imagination constructs a conception of law with a literary core, suggesting that improvements in judicial decision-making are certainly a challenge but are feasible if emotions are thought of not as unintentional or non-cognitive impulses, but as a substance through which the imagination is cultivated. In this groundbreaking work, Jeremy C Bradley demonstrates the extent to which Virginia Woolf’s narratives portray vulnerability and assign value to emotions. Bradley further argues for the inclusion of narrative within legal theory as a means to improve law’s aims. Through cultivation of the 'judicial imagination', judges develop and broaden their capacity for empathetic reasoning. The imagination is our most personal, emotional and perceptive link within ourselves and with those around us. Bradley expands on this notion and in the process discovers a new literary and judicial paradigm with which he takes us through a journey to discover new insights within Woolf’s work that once again demonstrate her timeless relevance.

Suggested Citation

Bradley, Jeremy, Virginia Woolf and The Judicial Imagination (April 11, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Jeremy Bradley (Contact Author)

InterActive Pro Ltd ( email )

30 Holborn
London, EC1N2LL
United Kingdom

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