Mrs. Dalloway, a novel by the modernist writer Virginia Woolf, was first published in 1925.
The story concerns a June day in 1923 when Clarissa Dalloway prepares for and throws a party, and along the way touches, to a greater or lesser extent, the people around her, who include her husband Richard, her maid Lucy, and her doppelgänger, the shell-shocked veteran Septimus Warren Smith. Smith will not meet Mrs Dalloway at her party, instead succumbing to a manic despair much like that which plagued Woolf herself; by the novel's end he will commit suicide, just as Woolf herself will eventually be driven to do.
A theme of the novel is Woolf's continuing struggle to reconcile her strong social conscience with the reality of the vapid socialites she knows, represented here by Clarissa. It is also about the relationships between men and women - Clarissa and Richard, but also Clarissa and Peter Walsh, an old beau - and between women - including Clarissa's now-faded devotion for a childhood friend Sally Seton.
But perhaps most of all, this novel is a fine example of the stream of consciousness style which Woolf evolved to capture the interconnectedness of people and moments in time; the narrative follows the thoughts, memories, and feelings of all the characters, blurring past and present, dream and reality, as the invisible webs that bind them grow tighter and tighter as the evening goes on.
Woolf developed the Dalloways over a number of short stories, and her working title for the book was The Hours. In 1999 Michael Cunningham won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel with this title, which was inspired by Woolf's novel. It has been made into a critically acclaimed movie.
Mrs. Dalloway itself was made into a film in 1997 by Marleen Gorris; it starred Vanessa Redgrave. The movie was not nearly as successful as the film adaptation of Woolf's Orlando, and I wouldn't recommend it highly unless you're a real Woolf, or Redgrave, fan. Read the book though; it's very interesting.
And finally, if you would like to travel in the mythical footsteps of Mrs. Dalloway during your own visit to London, check out the map and other information at the website "Mrs. Dalloway's London" (www.as.wvu.edu/~rgoldman/dalloway/).