A controversial Virginia Woolf statue will finally be unveiled next month after a five-year battle which saw a charity raise more than £50,000 to build it.

The lifesize figure of Virginia Woolf will be unveiled on a bench on the upper terraces at Richmond Riverside in November – but its location has sparked a backlash from critics. 

Aurora Metro revealed plans for the statue overlooking Richmond Riverside in 2017 to commemorate Virginia Woolf, who lived in the town from 1914 to 1924.

The charity won permission from Richmond Council in 2018 – but campaigners were unhappy that it was so close to the River Thames.

Virginia Woolf died aged 59 after she drowned herself in the River Ouse near her Sussex home in 1941. 

The Richmond Society said putting a statue commemorating her near water felt inappropriate.

At the meeting on November 17 last year, Barry May, chairman of the Richmond Society, said: “We believe placing it on the riverside would be ill-advised, insensitive and reckless however.

“She drowned herself in a river at the age of 59 after a history of mental illness which blighted her life.

"A figure reclining on a bench gazing over the water might distress anyone who knows her story and is in a vulnerable state of mind.”

Mr May said the riverside isn’t most closely associated with Virginia Woolf and suggested other locations, including Richmond Green – where she first lived in the borough.

He also raised fears about the sculpture being vandalised.

Charlotte Banks from Aurora Metro said: “Efforts by the Richmond Society to change the location of the statue, which has been chosen for many practical reasons… comes across as an attempt to push people like her out of sight.

“The statue’s intent is to celebrate diverse lives and encourage conversations around mental health, feminism, sexuality and gender. This cannot be done if the statue is tucked away on a residential street.”

Richmond councillors said the location is “poignant” and could encourage discussions around mental health.

Aurora Metro since met the £50,000 funding goal, with more than 250 individual donations, and raised extra cash to install and unveil the statue by sculptor Laury Dizengremel.

The charity has confirmed it will be unveiled at Richmond Riverside on November 16 at 2.30pm.