A Room of One's Own

A Room of One's Own

by Virginia Woolf


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A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf is one of the 20th century's great innovative writers. She was a member of the Bloomsbury group in pre-WW I England.

A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN is her investigation of the woman artist as a writer. Speculating on the imaginary life of Shakespeare's equally talented sister, she posits the necessity of "a room of one's own" (and a fixed income) for the writer to pursue her craft.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781618952752
Publisher: Bibliotech Press
Publication date: 07/12/2018
Pages: 130
Sales rank: 1,012,316
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)

About the Author

VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882–1941) was one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. An admired literary critic, she authored many essays, letters, journals, and short stories in addition to her groundbreaking novels.

Date of Birth:

January 25, 1882

Date of Death:

March 28, 1941

Place of Birth:


Place of Death:

Sussex, England


Home schooling

Read an Excerpt


BUT, YOU MAY say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction-what has that got to do with a room of one's own? I will try to explain. When you asked me to speak about women and fiction I sat down on the banks of a river and began to wonder what the words meant. They might mean simply a few remarks about Fanny Burney; a few more about Jane Austen; a tribute to the Brontës and a sketch of Haworth Parsonage under snow; some witticisms if possible about Miss Mitford; a respectful allusion to George Eliot; a reference to Mrs. Gaskell and one would have done. But at second sight the words seemed not so simple. The title women and fiction might mean, and you may have meant it to mean, women and what they are like; or it might mean women and the fiction that they write; or it might mean women and the fiction that is written about them; or it might mean that somehow all three are inextricably mixed together and you want me to consider them in that light. But when I began to consider the subject in this last way, which seemed the most interesting, I soon saw that it had one fatal drawback. I should never be able to come to a conclusion. I should never be able to fulfil what is, I understand, the first duty of a lecturer-to hand you after an hour's discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks and keep on the mantel-piece for ever. All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point-a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved. I have shirked the duty of coming to a conclusionupon these two questions-women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems. But in order to make some amends I am going to do what I can to show you how I arrived at this opinion about the room and the money. I am going to develop in your presence as fully and freely as I can the train of thought which led me to think this. Perhaps if I lay bare the ideas, the prejudices, that lie behind this statement you will find that they have some bearing upon women and some upon fiction. At any rate, when a subject is highly controversial-and any question about sex is that-one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one's audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker. Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact. Therefore I propose, making use of all the liberties and licences of a novelist, to tell you the story of the two days that preceded my coming here-how, bowed down by the weight of the subject which you have laid upon my shoulders, I pondered it, and made it work in and out of my daily life. I need not say that what I am about to describe has no existence; Oxbridge is an invention; so is Fernham; "I" is only a convenient term for somebody who has no real being. Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping. If not, you will of course throw the whole of it into the wastepaper basket and forget all about it.

Here then was I (call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please-it is not a matter of any importance) sitting on the banks of a river a week or two ago in fine October weather, lost in thought. That collar I have spoken of, women and fiction, the need of coming to some conclusion on a subject that raises all sorts of prejudices and passions, bowed my head to the ground. To the right and left bushes of some sort, golden and crimson, glowed with the colour, even it seemed burnt with the heat, of fire. On the further bank the willows wept in perpetual lamentation, their hair about their shoulders. The river reflected whatever it chose of sky and bridge and burning tree, and when the undergraduate had oared his boat through the reflections they closed again, completely, as if he had never been. There one might have sat the clock round lost in thought. Thought-to call it by a prouder name than it deserved-had let its line down into the stream. It swayed, minute after minute, hither and thither among the reflections and the weeds, letting the water lift it and sink it, until-you know the little tug-the sudden conglomeration of an idea at the end of one's line: and then the cautious hauling of it in, and the careful laying of it out? Alas, laid on the grass how small, how insignificant this thought of mine looked; the sort of fish that a good fisherman puts back into the water so that it may grow fatter and be one day worth cooking and eating. I will not trouble you with that thought now, though if you look carefully you may find it for yourselves in the course of what I am going to say.

But however small it was, it had, nevertheless, the mysterious property of its kind-put back into the mind, it became at once very exciting, and important; and as it darted and sank, and flashed hither and thither, set up such a wash and tumult of ideas that it was impossible to sit still. It was thus that I found myself walking with extreme rapidity across a grass plot. Instantly a man's figure rose to intercept me. Nor did I at first understand that the gesticulations of a curious-looking object, in a cut-away coat and evening shirt, were aimed at me. His face expressed horror and indignation. Instinct rather than reason came to my help; he was a Beadle; I was a woman. This was the turf; there was the path. Only the Fellows and Scholars are allowed here; the gravel is the place for me. Such thoughts were the work of a moment. As I regained the path the arms of the Beadle sank, his face assumed its usual repose, and though turf is better walking than gravel, no very great harm was done. The only charge I could bring against the Fellows and Scholars of whatever the college might happen to be was that in protection of their turf, which has been rolled for 300 years in succession, they had sent my little fish into hiding.

What idea it had been that had sent me so audaciously trespassing I could not now remember. The spirit of peace descended like a cloud from heaven, for if the spirit of peace dwells anywhere, it is in the courts and quadrangles of Oxbridge on a fine October morning. Strolling through those colleges past those ancient halls the roughness of the present seemed smoothed away; the body seemed contained in a miraculous glass cabinet through which no sound could penetrate, and the mind, freed from any contact with facts (unless one trespassed on the turf again), was at liberty to settle down uupon whatever meditation was in harmony with the moment. As chance would have it, some stray memory of some old essay about revisiting Oxbridge in the long vacation brought Charles Lamb to mind-Saint Charles, said Thackeray, putting a letter of Lamb's to his forehead. Indeed, among all the dead (I give you my thoughts as they came to me), Lamb is one of the most congenial; one to whom one would have liked to say, Tell me then how you wrote your essays? For his essays are superior even to Max Beerbohm's, I thought, with all their perfection, because of that wild flash of imagination, that lightning crack of genius in the middle of them which leaves them flawed and imperfect, but starred with poetry. Lamb then came to Oxbridge perhaps a hundred years ago. Certainly he wrote an essay-the name escapes me- about the manuscript of one of Milton's poems which he saw here. It was Lycidas perhaps, and Lamb wrote how it shocked him to think it possible that any word in Lycidas could have been different from what it is. To think of Milton changing the words in that poem seemed to him a sort of sacrilege. This led me to remember what I could of Lycidas and to amuse myself with guessing which word it could have been that Milton had altered, and why. It then occurred to me that the very manuscript itself which Lamb had looked at was only a few hundred yards away, so that one could follow Lamb's footsteps across the quadrangle to that famous library where the treasure is kept. Moreover, I recollected, as I put this plan into execution, it is in this famous library that the manuscript of Thackeray's Esmond is also preserved. The critics often say that Esmond is Thackeray's most perfect novel. But the affectation of the style, with its imitation of the eighteenth century, hampers one, so far as I can remember; unless indeed the eighteenth-century style was natural to Thackeray-a fact that one might prove by looking at the manuscript and seeing whether the alterations were for the benefit of the style or of the sense. But then one would have to decide what is style and what is meaning, a question which-but here I was actually at the door which leads into the library itself. I must have opened it, for instantly there issued, like a guardian angel barring the way with a flutter of black gown instead of white wings, a deprecating, silvery, kindly gentleman, who regretted in a low voice as he waved me back that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College or furnished with a letter of introduction.

Copyright 1929 by Harcourt, Inc.
Copyright renewed 1957 by Leonard Woolf
Annotated Edition copyright © 2005 by Harcourt, Inc.
Introduction copyright © 2005 by Susan Gubar

All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Preface: Virginia Woolf ix

Chronology xix

Introduction xxxv

A Room of One's Own 1

Notes to A Room of One's Own 113

Suggestions for Further Reading: Virginia Woolf 143

Suggestions for Further Reading: A Room of One's Own 147

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A Room of One's Own 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like an analytical book that is packed with ideas, then _A Room of One¿s Own_ by Virginia Woolf is the book for you. The style in this book is particularly unique. Incorporating words of her own with quotes of several famous authors of her day, Virginia Woolf proceeds to explain what a woman needs in order to write well and purely. These include having a stable income and a quiet room of one¿s own. ¿Why did men drink wine and women water? Why was one sex so prosperous and the other so poor? What effect has poverty on fiction? What conditions are necessary for the creation of works of art?¿ These are only some of the questions that she tries to answer. Women, she explains, have been made inferior by men, so that men can feel superior. She points out that if Shakespeare had a gifted sister, Judith, she would never be given a chance by men or society to develop and display her talent just because she was a woman. The reader is stricken by the book¿s truth, and reminded of the social differentiation that is still present in society today. Woolf¿s thoughts wander and jump, as she strolls in the park or gazes though her window, but they still flow efficiently, giving the reader the feeling the he is following her, and she is sharing her thoughts face to face. Eventually her ideas, stories, and quotes fall smoothly in place, as she makes her ultimate point. The book reads like an essay, combining the stories of several female artists, both recognized and unrecognized in society, concluding that women are not inferior by birth, but rather by the discriminations of society.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an extraordinary treatise on women and fiction. Woolf examines the subject closely, as if through a magnifying glass, and from so many angles. This covers history, the relationship between men and women, the psychology of the genders, and so much more. While cool and critical on the surface, this seems to be seething with passion and fire underneath. The writing is exquisite, rich in imagery and symbolism. I read this in one day, but I would love to re-read this at a more leisurely pace sometime. I think that every woman who loves to read or who writes should read this!
Danibelle More than 1 year ago
A Room of One's Own is Virginia Woolf's statement about the place of women in society during her lifetime. Imagine being invited to speak at an extremely prestigious university and then told you needed an escort to enter the library.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
I can concede that the theme of this essay is noble...but...the content is a bit boring and dry. I will say that Virginia Woolf had some poetic ideas! There are two main ideas that I particularly liked in this essay. The first being Shakespeare's Sister.

Woolf points out that if Shakespeare would have had a sister who was born with the same genius that is Shakespeare, she would not have been remembered because her artistry would have been allowed no outlet.....because she was a female.

The other point I took away from this essay ties in with Shakespeare's Sister. Women need "a room of one's own" and freedom from the worry of everyday living in order to write fiction. Woolf illustrates how these needs were not met throughout history for women. That is why there is no Shakespeare's Sister.

This essay is not the most exciting book I've read lately. But taken for what it is, Virginia Woolf does make her point heard
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found it amazing that this book seemed to have been written yesterday in a sense. It had some very thought provoking statements and I feel like I should read it on a daily basis just to affirm its lessons. It made me wish I had a trustfund coming my way so I could know the luxury of life on one's own by their own means and could take my time to write.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely fabulous. Wolfe provides a fresh outlook on feminism. Her distinct word choice and use of metaphors and similes make for thought provoking reading. Her views on feminism are far from female idolization as she points out that women are far from being perfect while at the same time illustrating the demorilizing and unfair limitations put on women by society and by men as a whole.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brilliant woman!!! This is the first thing I have read by Woolf and I was throughly impressed. Woolf had this subject suggested to her--to write about women and fiction. What she does is explore the subject throughly: women characters in fiction, women who write fiction, and why not many women wrote much at all throughout history. She explores her ideas as to why men wrote women in so many different lights (from saintly to inferior to evil) and why they wrote so much about them at all. In doing so, she examines sexism throughout the ages and in her own time period. I would have given this five stars but her style of writing became a bit laborious at times to read. I wish I could give her 4 and a half! But like I said: this is my first venture into reading Virginia Woolf and it will most definately NOT be my last!!!
arelenriel on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This is a must read for anyone in the field of Women's studies.Woolf writes clearly and concisely about how societal expectations can restrict a woman's life so that she has nothing left for herself. Good book. Many interesting viewpoints for debate.
kjforester on LibraryThing 4 days ago
As a woman who has longed to write but never been able to distinguish herself from those around her, this essay resonates. At certain times in the book, I felt like I was sitting in the room listening to her say, "But almost without exception they [women] are shown in their relation to men...And how small a part of a woman's life is that...(page 82). I wonder if women, for all our triumphs over paternalistic constraints in less than a century, have recognized we are truly separate beings and not defined by the labels - daughter, sister, wife, mother, caregiver - we attach to ourselves? Woolf's contention that a woman needs her own income, idleness and privacy to create is as true today as it was in 1929 and yet how many women are able to claim this time without guilt? Her closing words haunt me, "...if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women..." (page 114).
beau.p.laurence on LibraryThing 4 days ago
a feminist classic every Women's Studies student (formal and informal) should read
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing 4 days ago
This is a must read for anyone, woman or man. It's a great feminist text but her writing is amazing. It's one of the best essays I have ever read.
GiselleBurciaga More than 1 year ago
he dramatic setting of the novel is that Woolf has been invited to lecture on the topic of Women and Fiction. It examines whether women were capable of producing work of the quality of William Shakespeare, amongst other topics. She refers to this thesis often in the lecture, modifying the language a bit. She tells her audience she is not sure if the topic should be what women are like; the fiction women write; the fiction written about women; or a combination of the three. Instead, she has come up with "one minor point--a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." She says she will use a fictional narrator as her alter ego to relate how her thoughts on the lecture mingled with her daily life.I believe that to be, or to understand, an intellectual woman in this century, one must read this book. There is no mistaking Woolf's writing style: intricate, introspective, convoluted and then again portraying ideas and situations with brilliant clarity and insight. Yes, the book is supposed to be about women and fiction, but it offers so much more acute observations on literature, disparities in society between sexes, interity of writing and activity of reading. Her writing style is fluid, beautifully and flawlessly transitions between facts, observations, thoughts and insight as well. Unlike number of feminist writers, Woolf does not make the mistake of tearing down the accomplishments of men in order to make room for those of women. Indeed, she speaks eloquently against just that danger throughout "A Room of One's Own," which is partly what allows it to stand not only as a feminist classic, but also as a classic piece of both literature and literary criticism. It is not often that an essay reaches creative heights great enough to establish itself equally as a work of art and an intellectual effort, but Woolf has done it here. She does not waste her words or her energy on destructive, angry prattling. She writes with a depth of humanity that challenges us to be better writers, better thinkers, and better people. What I find interesting about Woolf is her ability to make her essay become so much like fiction, and thus, easier to read for many people. I highly recommend this extraordinary long essay to both men and women to everyone interested in the creative process. It is a brilliantly written, perceptive thesis.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very useful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With plenty of space including own bathroom and car. now its own bedroom where you do nothing but sleep too dated remibds me of the sci fi trii where one had a crowded planet with commune baths wc and food no kitchens and the other planet one person per estate with drones get real
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Impossible to describe; impossible not to read again. It's inspiring
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