A Room of One's Own (Annotated)

By Virginia Woolf

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
l t getty
Lovely book from an era when feminists were ladies first. Virginia Woolf had such a way of capturing the luxurious elegance of upper class English life before and after World War One. All the feminists she ever knew were ladies. (Not like that horrible American Emma Goldman.) Nobody worries about stuff like finding a job, being able to afford decent medical care, or living in a dangerous neighborhood. So delightfully aristocratic! Of course there were probably hundreds of thousands of English women in the slums of the big cities who didn't get to live like this, but Virginia Woolf is a lady and her understanding of life is based on being superior to other people based on what she's inherited from her ancestors. There are no women around today like this, especially on modern college campuses. Feminism is truer and nobler now than it was 100 years ago. So enjoy!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sanabel atya
For those in the English field and women alike, "A Room of One's Own" is a must read. Though it could be a difficult text, the notes are extensive and helpful. A wonderful edition of a feminist masterpiece!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
melanie nelson
I was filled with surprises when a good friend highly recommended "A Room of One's Own" It was very thoughtful of her. I read through the sample fast. Unable to determine the dimension so I purchased the book. Perhaps it was my mood or I could not relate to the prose. I stopped reading it. Based on past experiences, I will try it again on rainy day when I have run out of other things to read. I feel this book is a personal choice. The Story fulfilled the need and interest of my friend and hundreds and thousand of others who love this classic. It is not for me! D.M
To the Lighthouse (Wordsworth Classics) :: Orlando: A Biography :: Three Guineas (Oxford World's Classics) - A Room of One's Own; And :: Mrs. Dalloway :: Orlando
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
molly hudson
I like it because Virginia Woolf made me start writing. I would recommend it to women who are caught up in their day to day humdrum lives but who have it in them to say something and say it well. Just find a room of your own and get started...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jim hounslow
Beautifully written, eloquent, smart, funny and enlightening.It explained so much about why women have not been able to create, and why, even today, there are people who still think women are intrinsically incapable of doing serious art.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jim matheson
I had to read this book for my Women in Literature and Visual Arts class, as it focused on female authors in the past, and why they had little representation in history. The overall thesis of the book is that women need a room of their own in order to finds a place in history. It served as the foundation of our class. This book is certainly not for everyone, but it was an interesting perspective and certainly worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maryjean
Obviously, the main component of this book is beautiful, clear and clever writing. This particular edition has a solid and informative introduction to both Woolf and the respective essays/lectures. I'm reading the Kindle edition, and the formatting etc. is fine, though no ToC.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sunnyd
I sampled this book, and it didn't get much beyond that.

But I admire this author for her ability to describe meaningful situations. I'm keeping it on my shelf.

She has very brilliant descriptions of landscapes and colleges that remind me of dogs and perfume.

But keep in mind that she commit suicide later in her life. So some of the thoughts you have to keep distant from your brain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lacy
Just finished this incredible book by Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own. She took such an in depth look at Woman through out history, her suffering, her inferior position, her poverty due to lack of basic rights and most of all, the lack of intellectual freedom resulting from her economic dependency. Therefore, through out the book, Virginia Woolf stressed on the importance of 'five hundred a year and a room of one's own' - economic independence and personal space to ensure freedom in thinking - as the basic requirements, basic mindset that women should have in order to think freely, write freely of what we think, see the world in its reality - the truth.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chantale
After having raised my own children passed the age of six or seven I now find myself with time on my hands, some thoughts in my head, and a room of my own to do it in. I shall endeavor not to waste the luxury handed me. Written in 1928, Wolf's observations on life and literature remain timely and appropriate. Her tone is hilariously sarcastic and dry. She sounded in my head like the Lady Mary of Downton. I recommend this book to writers, scholars, and feminists seeking to broaden their familiarity with the classics of the field.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lora marconi
Extremely well written. Reflections of a woman writer about the limitations of women to write: too many elements against which she has to fight, maybe without beeing conscious in the first place that she lives in a world a male dominance and her role is very limited. Certainly Simone de Beauvoir read this book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
siena
I bought this book for a class in college. I never finished it but i feel like Virginia woolf just is not my style. She makes sombre interesting points though. If you line her other writing you may like this more then i did.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zulfa
Any book written by this well-known writer can and must be approached with a certain trepidation. Her articulate prose weaves compelling scenarios in which the reader becomes emotionally involved with the protagonist..
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
rawda
This is a PIRATE copy of terrible quality (no table of contents, chapter breakdowns - there's literally NOTHING just poor quality pages; there's even no proper space between the text). Looks very amateur, like it was published in someone's basement. I had to throw out my copy into the trash bin.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kaycee kendall
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

"A Room of One's Own" is an extended essay on women as both writers of fiction and as characters in fiction. A timeless work not only for women.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
janai symons
Her writing is amazing! So well crafted, descriptive and the organization that she keeps throughout the book to make her points about women's ability to write really helps the reader follow her line of thought.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
gina gabrielle
The book is extremely small, cheap, with print impossible to read without a magnifying glass. I was duped!
I have purchased MANY Penguin books, cloth-covered, "normal-sized", and absolutely lovely.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
vivian figueredo
I’ve heard about the importance of this book, but never really considered myself a feminist, so had no inspiration to read it. But even though men and women are pretty much equal today, the points she made back then are still relevant today, as is the history.

4 stars because the stream of consciousness was too much at times.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jen hayes
I was hoping to learn about Virginia Woolf. She's so famous and I know nothing about her or her work. I did not like her writing style at all with this one. Torture, to be honest with you. So boring. After a few pages I gave up. I got Mrs. Dalloway too so maybe I'll have a look at that at some point.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kathryn twigg arrildt
1/21/2013

I enjoyed this essay, especially the first and last sections. The middle is a bit of a Jeremiad, displaying Woolf' s pedantic side and rather narrow focus on gender to the exclusion of other social issues.

Her facility with descriptive language is remarkable, but so is her lapse into circular logic with sudden effloresces of insight.

I think I' ll go next to more of her fiction as I don' t think this is her best work or medium.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
goldie
I was surprised to have received this book so quickly, I was happy that I received it. However my happiness diminished a little when I collected the package from my mailbox....the packaging was ripped open half way its a miracle the book didn't fall out of it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
christa
To appreciate Woolf's work here, one must put oneself into the world of early 20th-century Britain. Women had only had the right to vote, and the social right to work outside the home for around one generation. Put that against centuries of staying at home, dependent on men (fathers, brothers, husbands), and you can begin to understand the motivation of a mind like Woolf's - a home-schooled young woman (because at the time, most girls, even of families of able means [which hers was], didn't go to university like their brothers) with a brilliant command of English, razor-sharp mind, and tremendous imagination - to address what was then, and sadly still is today in terms of pay, the gross inequality of the sexes. Her first essay, "A Room of One's Own," was delivered as a series of lectures at two women's colleges (which had not existed for long at the time) and addressed the question of why more women had not produced great fiction (novels or poetry). Her answer, a room of own's one and enough money not to have to work, was just the opening to a wide-ranging socio-historical discussion of centuries of women's inequality to men, a discussion she continues in the second, lengthier essay, "Three Guineas." Her writing is discursive yet incisive, the logic compelling, and the command of language masterful. The second essay, as I mentioned, examined the same subject of inequality, but the context and era was different. Set in 1938 on the eve of the Second World War, it is on the surface a lengthy answer to the question (posed by a liberal-minded man writing to other liberal-minded men and women, "How can women help to prevent war," yet it covers much the same ground as the first in that it presents, with the thorough skill of a medical dissection, the reasons why one cannot expect any help from women in preventing war, said reasons grounded in the continuing socio-economic and educational inequality of women. That Woolf's writing on this subject still has an air of freshness is testament to her skill with rhetoric and her mastery of the language.

My one complaint was that the second essay became, by the mid-point, a trifle tedious but only because she was making the same point from numerous angles. One can understand the immense frustration, intellectual and socio-political, that may well have motivated her, given the decade that had elapsed between the essays with little apparent change in British society in this regard, and one can appreciate the thoroughness of her argument, yet it began to sound repetitious to me, so, having seen and accepted her thesis, I stopped about fifty pages from the end.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nina c
Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 118-page Harper paperback edition.]

She begins this 1929 book with the statement, “But, you 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… I should never be able to fulfill 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 mantelpiece forever. 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.” (Pg. 3-4)

She reveals that when she attempted to enter a library to read a manuscript of Thackeray, she was told “that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College, or furnished with a letter of introduction. That a famous library has been cursed by a woman is a matter of complete indifference to a famous library. Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within its breast, it sleeps complacently and will, so far as I am concerned, so sleep for ever. Never again will I wake those echoes, never will I ask for that hospitality again, I vowed as I descended the steps in anger.” (Pg. 7-8)

She recalls a professor: “Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority. That was what he was protecting rather hot-headedly and with too much emphasis, because it was a jewel to him of the rarest price… Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality…? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority---it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney---for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination---over other people.” (Pg. 34-35) She adds, “Under the spell of that illusion… They start the day confident… they say to themselves as they go into the room, I am the superior of half the people here, and it is thus that they speak with that self-confidence, that self-assurance, which have had such profound consequences in public life and lead to such curious mores in the margin of the private mind.” (Pg. 36-37)

She rhetorically asks, “it is a perennial puzzle why no woman wrote a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capable of song or sonnet. What were the conditions in which women lived, I asked myself.” (Pg. 43) She powerfully points out, “I could not help thinking, as I looked at the works of Shakespeare… that… it would have been impossible … for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare. Let me imagine… what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith… She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic… She picked up a book now and then… But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about books and papers… She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theater. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face… She could get no training in her craft… That, more or less, is how the story would run … if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius…” (Pg. 48-50)

She suggests, “[In fiction] All these relationships between women… are too simple. So much has been left out, unattempted… almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It is strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that; and how little can a man know even of that when he observes it through the black or rosy spectacles which sex puts upon his nose.” (Pg. 86)

She concludes, “it is far more important at the moment to know how much money women had and how many rooms than to theorize about their capacities… you may object that in all this I have made too much of the importance of material things. Even allowing a generous margin for symbolism, that five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate, that a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself…” (Pg. 109-110) She adds, “Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor… from the beginning of time. Women have had less intellectual freedom than the sons of Athenian slaves. Women, then, have not had a dog’s chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one’s own.” (Pg. 112)

This is a profound and always-timely response to the argument, “Why are there no great women poets/writers/scientists/philosophers?” [Of course, since Woolf wrote in 1929, we now HAVE seen women excel in all these areas, so far fewer people will ask such questions.] This is one of Woolf’s fascinating books, and is of great importance for the development of later feminist thought.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
radix hidayat
Though written in 1929, Woolf’s book length essay, initially intended as speeches on the topic of women and fiction, remains relevant to writers, especially women writers today.

If you haven’t taken a walk with Woolf through the shelves, I encourage you to do so with this little gem of materialist feminism, decades ahead of it’s time.

The focus of Woolf’s musings is on the conditions that early women writers wrote under and the lack of a literary legacy they had to build upon. Women writers, she asserts, had to not only overcome indifference (like men writers) but also hostility directed at women for stepping out of their confined societal boundaries.

Her signature stream of conscious style comes through alongside a witty, facetious, and at times sarcastic tone.

Reflecting on Woolf’s message, it is interesting to see how far women writers and women in fiction have come and yet how much some things have stayed the same. How many writers today truly have a room of one’s own, and how many are still penning fiction during nap-time, while planning dinner, and in between letting the dog out and picking the kids up from school?

Highly recommended further reading: Virginia Woolf’s Women and Writing, particularly essays like “Professions for Women” and “Women and Fiction.”

*This is a re-read for me. I purchased a paperback edition--the one with the introduction by Mary Gordon- back in college, now roughly 2 decades ago.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
diana rogers
I read this many years ago, and always remembered it fondly, so it has been a real pleasure to re-read it. I had forgotten quite how sharply, precisely, creatively and wittily Woolf makes her points. And I had also forgotten quite how beautifully her ‘stream of consciousness’ style works in a non-fiction setting, where she is exploring the unequal opportunities afforded to women in terms of exploring and fostering their creativity, their education, their growth and development, in a world whose systems were designed to exclude them.

Her 1928 book, A Room Of One’s Own is a world away from the dry marshalling of facts, and a world away from hammer bludgeons of polemic too. Yes, there is anger – at discovering as a female, she is not allowed to walk on the hallowed grass – only College Fellows can do that, and, hey-ho, there are no female fellows. The chapter of ‘disallows’ on a quite ordinary day continues, locking her out of the library, the meaner endowment of colleges for women – because, until only some fifty years before the book was written, all a woman possessed was her husband’s. Changes were put in place after the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870. But it did mean that as, in the main, as she points out, most men were less interested in advancing the education of women than women were, until Married Women had the legal right to own the fruits of their own paid labour and to inherit property, the likelihood of generous endowments to colleges for the further education of females was less likely than the generous endowments to colleges for the further education of males.

The writing of this essay followed on an invitation Woolf received from a Cambridge college to give a lecture on ‘Women and Fiction’ and follows her musings on what this could possibly mean : A talk about women in fiction, as described by male and female writers; a talk about female authors; a talk about what women are like – or some combination of ‘all of the above’

Woolf’s ‘stream of consciousness’ writing perfectly serves this incisive, discursive account, examining women’s position in society, examining why the novel has proved to be a potent creative place for women, and mixing analysis of society, history, literature, and political structures in a wonderfully fertile, creative, juicy, living way. She refutes those who have undervalued women’s creativity, dedication, imagination and genius, in the creative arts or elsewhere, by showing how often it was a powerful, moneyed, privileged few who produced ‘geniuses’ – and how much of this was due to access to education. She points out that our dearly loved Shakespeare himself was some kind of rarity – he was not part of the aristocracy. And, to take another tack, over the last hundred or so years, there have been all those pathetic attempts to claim Shakespeare was not Shakespeare, but some cover for a lord.

Given the wonderful, but dice-weighted-against-it, reality of Shakespeare, Woolf imagines a sister, equally rare in creativity, and unique imagination, born in the same fertile environment which did produce Shakespeare. And she traces the impossibility of ‘Judith’ to have had access to the chances and accidents, the opportunities seized, to produce our Bard of Avon, for the distaff side. Woolf gives us sharp, thoughtful analysis – but the packaging is delicious, playful, inventive and remarkably potent.

I re-read this simultaneously laughing in delight – and raging

“Life for both sexes – is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to one-self.”

And, suddenly, my reading of Woolf came bang up to date, and I felt her going beyond the well known argument she makes, here, for the necessity for the creative artist to have ‘A Room of One’s Own’, some freedom from the demands of service to others, some independence of means – and I felt her talking about more than literature, and speaking about our divide-and-rule, and the myriad places we practice it

This is a wonderful laying out of thoughtful, philosophical, sparkling creative feminism. Delivered with wit, humour, inventiveness. Oh, she dazzled and she dazzles still.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jacqueline simonds
I read this book both to fill a gap in my reading history and because I have been making an honest effort of late to be better informed on the very urgent topic of gender. In addition to everything happening in the news my two daughters are on the cusp of living their own full lives and if I can’t quite advise them, I at least want to stay out of the way.

Woolf, of course, was a pioneer of the feminist movement but approached the topic very much from the perspective of letters. This book is a series of lectures she gave at Newnham and Girton colleges in 1929 to young English women on the topic of women and fiction.

To call it fascinating is to admit I am incapable of doing it justice. The prose has a swift cadence that is sometimes diverted, often biting (with very good reason), and never pedantic. I actually felt privileged to have the chance to “listen in.”

Woolf gives a thorough history of women through the eyes of literature. She became quite well known for her literary criticism and it’s easy to see why. Her knowledge is encyclopedic to say the least.

The most powerful aspect of this book, however, is the fresh perspective it provides on the history of women and the feminist movement. Now almost a century later, Woolf’s work gave me more insight into the movement and the issues than many modern authors have.

I won’t retell her insight here. You have to read it. Suffice it to say, however, that judging by the world’s greatest libraries women scarcely existed before the 18th Century. They were property, were seldom given education, and were kept enslaved to procreation for much of their lives. There is no new information in all of that, of course, but I never fully appreciated the implications until I read it in Woolf’s voice.

Two points struck me in particular. The first is the question as to how the patriarchy ever became so strong or oppressive. The usual answers don’t seem to do the question justice. Men had far more than the upper hand. They controlled the world. And I’m still wondering how it got that far.

The second point is that Woolf actually makes an indirect case for universal income. She correctly notes that struggle is material at some level, and despite the perception of her time that the great poets were people (largely men) of poverty and ideals, that was far from the reality. Nine of the twelve greatest poets she refers to had the benefit of England’s very best education and enjoyed financial security serving at those same institutions.

Her point being that if we wish to liberate anyone, and in this case liberate the arts in general, and female artists, in particular, we must take the daily struggle of survival off the table. Great literature, she notes, takes time and life experience and you won’t enjoy either (which women didn’t since the beginning of time) if you don’t have even a room of your own.

If this book is not required reading for all young men and women, it should be. I certainly plan to buy copies for both of my daughters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zachary shinabargar
Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 118-page Harper paperback edition.]

She begins this 1929 book with the statement, “But, you 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… I should never be able to fulfill 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 mantelpiece forever. 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.” (Pg. 3-4)

She reveals that when she attempted to enter a library to read a manuscript of Thackeray, she was told “that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College, or furnished with a letter of introduction. That a famous library has been cursed by a woman is a matter of complete indifference to a famous library. Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within its breast, it sleeps complacently and will, so far as I am concerned, so sleep for ever. Never again will I wake those echoes, never will I ask for that hospitality again, I vowed as I descended the steps in anger.” (Pg. 7-8)

She recalls a professor: “Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority. That was what he was protecting rather hot-headedly and with too much emphasis, because it was a jewel to him of the rarest price… Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality…? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority---it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney---for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination---over other people.” (Pg. 34-35) She adds, “Under the spell of that illusion… They start the day confident… they say to themselves as they go into the room, I am the superior of half the people here, and it is thus that they speak with that self-confidence, that self-assurance, which have had such profound consequences in public life and lead to such curious mores in the margin of the private mind.” (Pg. 36-37)

She rhetorically asks, “it is a perennial puzzle why no woman wrote a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capable of song or sonnet. What were the conditions in which women lived, I asked myself.” (Pg. 43) She powerfully points out, “I could not help thinking, as I looked at the works of Shakespeare… that… it would have been impossible … for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare. Let me imagine… what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith… She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic… She picked up a book now and then… But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about books and papers… She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theater. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face… She could get no training in her craft… That, more or less, is how the story would run … if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius…” (Pg. 48-50)

She suggests, “[In fiction] All these relationships between women… are too simple. So much has been left out, unattempted… almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It is strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that; and how little can a man know even of that when he observes it through the black or rosy spectacles which sex puts upon his nose.” (Pg. 86)

She concludes, “it is far more important at the moment to know how much money women had and how many rooms than to theorize about their capacities… you may object that in all this I have made too much of the importance of material things. Even allowing a generous margin for symbolism, that five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate, that a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself…” (Pg. 109-110) She adds, “Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor… from the beginning of time. Women have had less intellectual freedom than the sons of Athenian slaves. Women, then, have not had a dog’s chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one’s own.” (Pg. 112)

This is a profound and always-timely response to the argument, “Why are there no great women poets/writers/scientists/philosophers?” [Of course, since Woolf wrote in 1929, we now HAVE seen women excel in all these areas, so far fewer people will ask such questions.] This is one of Woolf’s fascinating books, and is of great importance for the development of later feminist thought.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yusuf y lmaz
Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 118-page Harper paperback edition.]

She begins this 1929 book with the statement, “But, you 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… I should never be able to fulfill 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 mantelpiece forever. 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.” (Pg. 3-4)

She reveals that when she attempted to enter a library to read a manuscript of Thackeray, she was told “that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College, or furnished with a letter of introduction. That a famous library has been cursed by a woman is a matter of complete indifference to a famous library. Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within its breast, it sleeps complacently and will, so far as I am concerned, so sleep for ever. Never again will I wake those echoes, never will I ask for that hospitality again, I vowed as I descended the steps in anger.” (Pg. 7-8)

She recalls a professor: “Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority. That was what he was protecting rather hot-headedly and with too much emphasis, because it was a jewel to him of the rarest price… Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality…? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority---it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney---for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination---over other people.” (Pg. 34-35) She adds, “Under the spell of that illusion… They start the day confident… they say to themselves as they go into the room, I am the superior of half the people here, and it is thus that they speak with that self-confidence, that self-assurance, which have had such profound consequences in public life and lead to such curious mores in the margin of the private mind.” (Pg. 36-37)

She rhetorically asks, “it is a perennial puzzle why no woman wrote a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capable of song or sonnet. What were the conditions in which women lived, I asked myself.” (Pg. 43) She powerfully points out, “I could not help thinking, as I looked at the works of Shakespeare… that… it would have been impossible … for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare. Let me imagine… what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith… She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic… She picked up a book now and then… But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about books and papers… She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theater. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face… She could get no training in her craft… That, more or less, is how the story would run … if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius…” (Pg. 48-50)

She suggests, “[In fiction] All these relationships between women… are too simple. So much has been left out, unattempted… almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It is strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that; and how little can a man know even of that when he observes it through the black or rosy spectacles which sex puts upon his nose.” (Pg. 86)

She concludes, “it is far more important at the moment to know how much money women had and how many rooms than to theorize about their capacities… you may object that in all this I have made too much of the importance of material things. Even allowing a generous margin for symbolism, that five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate, that a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself…” (Pg. 109-110) She adds, “Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor… from the beginning of time. Women have had less intellectual freedom than the sons of Athenian slaves. Women, then, have not had a dog’s chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one’s own.” (Pg. 112)

This is a profound and always-timely response to the argument, “Why are there no great women poets/writers/scientists/philosophers?” [Of course, since Woolf wrote in 1929, we now HAVE seen women excel in all these areas, so far fewer people will ask such questions.] This is one of Woolf’s fascinating books, and is of great importance for the development of later feminist thought.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brooke white
I read this book so many years ago, I am only left with the distant impression it left upon me. For full disclosure, Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite authors, if not my favorite. As a writer, I am uniquely inspired by her way with words. Though, her INTELLECT and IMAGINATION are beyond words. Even though she died decades before I was born ~ she inspires me in a way that very few living people can even begin to attempt.

As I recall, the essay was really a call to action for women writers to WRITE WITHOUT LIMITS in EVERY GENRE and TOPIC. Even though this is a different time, I think this work still has something to say. I mean, we still live in a world where the creator of Harry Potter was asked not to use her first name because it might hurt sales.

I liked the imagery of SHAKESPEARE'S SISTER. And, I do often think of all the people, women included, that were not allowed the simplest of materials such as paper to allow them to be a writer or an artist. How many great works of art and literature were stuck inside a woman's head because of the time she by chance was born into.

The other thing that touched me is the idea that to be a woman and a writer, one must have a room of one's own. What she meant by this was a steady income allowing the freedom of time to write. And a door that you could lock to remain undisturbed. It's so true. It is the one obstacle that hinders me. It doesn't stop me by any means. But, I know what time allowed to muse for hours a day means to ones writing. And this isn't really allowed with a 9 to 5 job. Virginia Woolf makes the point that INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM is of paramount concern when it comes to writing fiction. And as she points out ~ most WOMEN HAVE not only BEEN POOR for the last few hundred years, but from the BEGINNING OF TIME. You have to look no further than the lack of published work by women in developing countries today to hear her words ring true now ~ this very day.

Beyond her sage advice to women writers is her courage to challenge the misogynist world she lived in. Now, I wish I could say MISOGYNY was a thing of the past, but any woman knows this to be untrue. While today it isn't often that a woman feels the need to go under a masculine pseudonym, it was the case for so many women writer's in the past.

When you think of how much fiction throughout history has been written about women but so little of it by women ~ it's all tied to who holds the purse strings. And also the belief by most men that women were not capable of intellectual pursuits. Or maybe more accurately, the fear of it. There was one part I remember in Virginia's Woolf's essay that really struck me and it was to ask ~ WHAT IF MEN WERE ONLY REPRESENTED IN LITERATURE AS THEY RELATED TO WOMEN. As lovers only and never as friends of other men or thinkers or dreamers or soldiers. Would we have even heard of Shakespeare? What would his plays be with men portrayed only as lovers of women? What a strange cannon we would be left with, right? Now, imagine what we have lost by excluding women in such a real way for most of human history. What we have lost is truly immeasurable.

Who are we excluding right now?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jesus hernan
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if one is a feminist, or indeed even a woman, one is obliged to have read Woolf’s short but seminal work on equality for women, particularly in the world of writing and academia. It started life as a talk for students, and you can almost hear her voice as she writes these crisp and witty essays exposing the many ways that women don’t start off on the same footing as men, particularly as writers and academics. I underlined anything that seemed particularly pertinent to our culture today – and there was an awful lot of underlining by the end.

Eerily relevant today, it’s highly recommended for female writers and anyone who aspires to be a feminist (and if you’re short of time just read the first chapter and feel good.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zuzanna
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if one is a feminist, or indeed even a woman, one is obliged to have read Woolf’s short but seminal work on equality for women, particularly in the world of writing and academia. It started life as a talk for students, and you can almost hear her voice as she writes these crisp and witty essays exposing the many ways that women don’t start off on the same footing as men, particularly as writers and academics. I underlined anything that seemed particularly pertinent to our culture today – and there was an awful lot of underlining by the end.

Eerily relevant today, it’s highly recommended for female writers and anyone who aspires to be a feminist (and if you’re short of time just read the first chapter and feel good.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dianem
My thirst for some cerebral literature was satiated after finishing this rather extended and comprehensive essay in the shape of a novel in just one sitting.

The construct is based on a set of lectures that Woolf actually delivered at Newham and Girton College. Her lectures centered around the lack of female writers in the literary world. Why are they absent from history books, (unless they are queens, mothers or mistresses)?

The book is a feminist text that utilizes fictional characters. In the work she brilliantly proposed a ‘What If’ situation – certainly a good way to begin any tome.
‘What If’ Shakespeare had a sister and she was equally gifted, but didn’t have his chance of schooling, learning grammar and logic. Woolf called her Judith (this being the name of one of his two daughters. Judith’s only experiences in life are beatings by her father and an arranged marriage to someone she didn’t love.

This simple premise led to dozens of questions that had to be answered. She cleverly used a story to make her point. This is typically the best way to deliver a message that sticks in the mind of the reader. She also developed multiple fictional narrators to create the universal female voice.

During the essay Woolf suggested the idea that ‘you would need money and a room of one’s own to become a writer’. It most definitely makes sense, I am sure most would agree.

Some may call her text elitist, because she was financially more than comfortable and supported in her creative ventures by her husband. But what has to be remembered is that she at least stopped to think about the issue and took the time to write and lecture on the subject. Her perspective on the topic may not always be to everyone’s liking, but it is a perspective all the same and, I believe, an astute one at that.

The author also discusses and defends the subject of lesbianism in a time when the scandal about Radclyffe Hall, the author of THE WELL OF LONELINESS, (a groundbreaking literary work with a lesbian theme) was still a fresh and touchy subject with the obscenity trials echoing in the literary world.

For me, the author’s rather capacious mind and melodious prose was all engrossing. Her application of stream of consciousness as a writing technique worked perfectly to deliver her message. The sentences were almost architectural; they flowed with visual beauty like the soft, undulating, arches and domes of a cathedral. It was like gazing through the looking-glass of her mind’s eye.

Countless women reviewing the book state that all women should read this. I believe that men should read it too. She offers a most interesting perspective that bears such sophisticated and cultured gravitas.

Given the subject, one would expect this to be a feminist diatribe, expressing her loathing towards men, but she does no such thing. It is a quiet, gentle text, full of wit, insights and cerebral cogitation. She discusses politics, wealth, power, poverty, truth, gender inequality and much more.

The focal point of the story is needing your own room, this being a fact that men could enjoy freely 100 years ago. Hard to believe, but it is a fact.

The author cleverly invented the character of Judith Shakespeare to show that a woman with equal talent as her brother William Shakespeare, could never have achieved the same success during that time. Even though talent was a vital element of his success, because women are treated so differently, a female Shakespeare would have been faced with a very different future to her brother. Judith eventually commits suicide in the fictional tale. Perhaps this is a reflection of the author’s own inner mental struggle with manic depression, with which she battled from an early age. She ended her life by drowning. She filled her pockets with stones and walked into the river Ouse. She was found a few weeks later. A huge loss to the literary world.

The author concludes her essay by suggesting that men and women need each other; we each have our strengths and our weaknesses; and that changes need to be implemented. A call to arms for all women.

This novel is a somewhat unorthodox, yet alluring investigation into the material and social conditions necessary for the creation of literature.
It is also a tribute, a meditation, 'a belle-lettres' full of the author’s personal ethos.
A worthy read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lilyth
This is a non fiction essay. It is not a short essay. Some of Virginia Woolf's later fiction is somewhat complicated. This is not the case with this non fiction essay. It is not hard to understand her thinking as expressed. The subject is woman's issues and woman's rights. Virginia Woolf talks about historical issues confronting women. She invents a sister of William Shakespeare who wishes to be a writer and expresses a possible fictional existence that makes it difficult for her to be a successful writer.

Obviously the isn't a possibility that things have changed since Virginia Woolf composed this fine essay. In regard to the historical context, I largely agree with the thoughts expressed by Virginia Woolf. I listened to this on audiobook while reading it. I enjoyed the experience and found it interesting and thought provoking. Thank You...
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kerri ann petty
"For here again we come within range of that very interesting and obscure masculine complex which has had so much influence upon the woman's movement; that deepseated desire, not so much that she shall be inferior as that he shall be superior, which plants him wherever one looks, not only in front of the arts, but barring the way to politics too, even with the risk to himself seems infinitesimal and the suppliant humble and devoted."

This is an awesome essay tying in writing, feminism women's wages, and cultural shifts to success. I really enjoyed the range of this essay - it's not just about writing or the Bronte's but about education and access for women on top of so much else. The writing is insightful and engaging and the reasoning of the essay rings true.

A Room of One's Own is a great read for everyone - men and women as well as writers and non-writers. While dense and lingering at times, it's a thorough look at what really goes into a woman writing a successful book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jan farnworth
Virginia Woolf was asked to give a talk about Women and Fiction in 1928. The talk eventually became this book. Woolf shows very convincingly how women have found it difficult to be taken seriously in the world of literature. Her famous suggestion that women can only play a full part in writing if they have an income of five hundred year and a room of their own - with a lock on the door still holds good today though the amount of money needed would be larger. She provides some examples of how women's talents were just not taken seriously and they were regarded as totally inferior to even the most mediocre man.

I found it interesting that she thought the best writing is androgynous and could have been written by either men or women. She accepts that women may write differently from men because they are aware of different aspects of life because of the way society is organised. Jane Austen wrote about what she knew as did George Eliot. They are disparaged because they deal with everyday life whereas men write about the outside world because that is what they know. Could Tolstoy have written `War and Peace' if he had been female? Woolf thinks not.

Woolf's overall thesis is that the world of literature needs both masculine qualities and feminine qualities. She does not want to downgrade the achievements of men because she believes the world needs both. The example of Shakespeare's sister is a telling one even though Shakespeare's writing is androgynous. Writers need to use both sides of their brains and personalities which echoes Jung's ideas that men have a feminine side just as women have a masculine side - wholeness comes from using both sides.

This book is well worth reading for its writing style alone and for its humour. This is not a feminist tract by any means but it does make some very valid points about how women were still treated in the nineteen twenties even though they had the right to vote.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kayla gunn
There it was, sitting high on my daughter's bookshelf, still, as I see it, while she is half a world away. What many consider to be the modern primogenitor of feminist literature, written long before Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and even before Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex (Vintage). Virginia Woolf, in the 1920's, was nailing the central problem: to produce (and we're not talking more kids, Wolfe was talking literature) women needed a bit of space, as is implied by the title, and the all-important separate income (500 quid, on an annual basis, at a time before the ravages of inflation would make that figure insufficient even for a month.) I have read the other two books, polemics if you will, so why not start at the beginning, finally, when I am, well, a few years beyond the high school period when my daughter read it? She has managed to also "take the path less traveled," and so there is that additional fillip: perhaps a voyeuristic one. What part did the many passages she underlined play in that decision when reaching the fork: Oh, the less traveled one looks more suitable?

Virginia Woolf was a founding member of the Bloomsbury Group, a literary association that was prominent in what we now call the inter-war period. She did have periods of mental instability, which culminated in the taking of her life, by drowning, as the Second World War was in its early phases. Parts of that instability may be reflected in the somewhat erratic nature of these essays; but rest assured, when she is "on," she is really "on."

Woolf packs a lot into not much more than 100 pages. She starts at Oxbridge, and the serene peace of the quadrangles of these two universities in the ultimate month: October. How were they built? First, it was the age of faith, and the kings and lords poured money in, to erect an edifice to defend their position in the social hierarchy. Then it was the age of reason, the old order undermined by its own wealth. Yet that era had a passage also, as Wolfe says: "When the guns fired in August, 1914, did the faces of men and women show so plain in each other's eyes that romance was killed? Certainly it was a shock (to women in particular with their illusions about education, and so on) to see the faces of our rulers in the light of shell-fire. So ugly they looked- German, English, French- so stupid." She notes that it was only 48 years before that wives could possess money in their own name. In the next chapter she is off to the British museum, to read about women, in books that men have written, dyspeptic men, who, Wolfe speculates: :"Had he been laughed at, to adopt the Freudian theory, in his cradle by a pretty girl?" Further, she notes the sad human tendency of seeking reassurance of one's worth by knocking the value of others. As the author says: And how can we generate this imponderable quality which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority- it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney- for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination - over other people." As for women in this game: "Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size." Acerbic, yes.

No question too that Woolf is erudite. A take-away for me is that I should read the essays of Charles Lamb. In the third chapter she posits the literary fate of Shakespeare's "sister." Why did both George Eliot and George Sand adopt male pseudonyms? She addresses that also, along with the works of Jane Austen and the Brontes. Mary Carmichael, to whom Woolf also devotes much ink has, alas, slipped into obscurity.

Wolfe can be repetitive, and clearly the following insult at Oxbridge rankled, since it is expressed throughout: "Fellows and scholars only allowed on the grass! Ladies not admitted without a letter of introduction!" The solution also surfaced a few times: "...that it is necessary to have five hundred a year and a room with a lock on the door if you are to write fiction or poetry."

And my daughter? Still seeking the "essential oil of truth," which was not merely underlined, but placed in a box, and in the process acquiring the two essential ingredients along the path less traveled: the room and the funds to sustain independent thought. And I, well, should have read this book much earlier in life, so only the old saw about better late is now available. 5-stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
clarissa
Keeping in mind the date these lectures were delivered, her biographical details, etc. this is now a totally enjoyable piece. It is wonderful seeing a writer put into practice what she suggests regarding good writing while she does it. It is also easier to see the hilarity of the event. Some of the lines must have been absolutely hysterical for the audience! Critiques written by her contemporaries, both pro and con, also seem interesting. I must confess the author I thought of right away was JKR writing her Harry Potter books - famously with sleeping child in tow at a coffee shop. No room of her own or 500 pounds either! (At least to start.)
But what's in a room? I interpret this as a metaphor. There is more going on here than meets the eye. 500 pounds must have been sufficient money to live in comfort - that is, no worries. So one can concentrate. One has time to read and think. That is the point of that. Perhaps also the security of knowing what one chooses to say is not liable to cause a break in one's future security. Perhaps that is one point she makes regarding Jane Austen. So the central issue here is still very much a serious matter - and certainly not just for women. I take it to mean that one must be capable of such reflection as well as have the means to reflect. Of a more contemporary note is the issue of how many books we ought to have. Perhaps VW saw no potential for there being too many. Today with self- publishing via social media there comes a point when figuring out priorities is absolutely necessary. For example, how many people are going to read this? These essentially become my notes so I can easily access my basic thoughts having read the book regardless of where I am. But what value might these have for someone else? We cannot read everything. Much of what is written today might be self-reflection on the part of someone just starting out on life's journey. Unless you are a teacher or otherwise have an interest in that young person, reading their work could even be painful as well as a waste of time. So an education of some sort becomes a requirement. Where would we be without the guidance we received so that we had hints regarding the comparative worth of literary works? Harold Bloom anyone? But this book is also a pleasure to read. Perhaps we can spend some time reading just to enjoy ourselves.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
crystal kimberlin
This book contains two polemics or extended essays by Virginia Woolf plus some excellent comments in the introduction on her life and works. Woolf was a major force in the English publishing world after WWI. She wrote, she was a critic, and she published for such famous heavy-weights as Freud and T.S.Eliot. In addition, this book has an excellent introduction to Woolf and an overview of her ideas. The two essays are based on talks that she gave.

I read this book three times in order to absorb all the information. The introduction and analysis are simply outstanding. The first non-fiction piece, "A Room of One's own," is better than the second. That second essay, "Three Guineas," is more of a general commentary. In short, this is a wonderful book with two good essays and one excellent analysis and commentary on Woolf.

Woolf claims not to be a feminist. Instead she wants equality for women. These two polemics, especially the first, are opportunities for Woolf to vent all her frustrations about being treated as a second class citizen and to articulate her arguments, i.e.: she faced a barrier in the literary world as a woman. For example, she was denied a college education. The family money was spent on her brother's education, not hers, even though she was a brighter student. She had to learn Greek at home, etc. She describes much of the discrimination that she had to endure as a woman writer.

Also, she describes other female writers and how they worked under primitive conditions and sometimes even with these primitive conditions were able to emerge as great writers: George Eliot, Jane Austen, etc.

Woolf discusses the question: why was there no woman Shakespeare? That is a question asked by some but answered rather forcibly by Woolf. She points out that Jane Austen did not even have an office; Austen wrote her great novel such as Pride and Prejudice at the kitchen table. Austen worked in social isolation and died at a young age, as did Charlotte Bronte. How would they have developed if they had had longer lives or emerged as social forces?

In the second piece she links some of the problems of the world to men and their aggressive behaviour.

This is a great and entertaining read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brian herrick
Woolf, in her poetically rambling way, manages to navigate through numerous subjects, including but not limited to: a history of women writing fiction, their male counterparts, the literary merits of both sexes, the dual-sexed nature of the brain, the limits placed upon women in society and to hold property, thwarts the critiques of men who dismiss the contributions and characters of women, and mediates over walks, meals and cigarettes. While she takes an indirect course, a characteristic of her fiction, she hits upon her thesis throughout: to be an artist of any merit a person needs a room to write in and a source of income; without both the artist is hard-pressed to have the time and energy in which to create. She notes that this holds true for men as well, holding up a number of authors we have long canonized who were not only from wealthy families, but highly educated; things denied women throughout most of history. What is most enjoyable is her dry humor that peppers the text, and I wish her fiction contained more of it. I would recommend reading Orlando in conjunction with this; not only does it explore the same themes of art, sex, gender and the evolution of women, but it does so with the same level of humor. It is also her most accessible work and the "love letter" to her lover, Vita Sackville-West, is a warm and sensual novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
frank housh
This was an incredible work, mindblowing and provocative, putting intense subject matter and scope into a very short little account. Of the work I've read so far in 2010, it does the most with the least space, giving a fundamental feminist branching point for reflections on literature, politics, war, culture, family, psychology, the academy and identity. This final element is particularly effective, providing a rich understanding of how conditions of patriarchy determine not just power, not just social roles, but the very self. Starkly, this account delves into the scope of such politics, in framing how self-regard and the regard of others. Woolf perceives and expresses very clearly that men and women both have twisted psyches from the power disequilibrium, and some of her most resonant passages are the musings on why exactly the entrenched male intellectual elite show so much passion in denying female publications. Across the work there are areas where Woolf is no longer as applicable, where she reflects on conditions in our day that are substantively changed for the better. But this is far from total, and a lot of this writing still rings very true. That's not exactly a positive reflection on the state of our world ninety years later, but it makes this piece still a vital piece of thought for policy brokers and regular citizen here and now.

Perhaps the area Woolf most impressed me was her thorough understanding of how systemic realities and power structures work. Long before historians had really started taking cultural history seriously or understanding the role of discourses in positioning individuals, Woolf paints a clear understanding in the feminist context. Specifically, her question of what would happen to a woman of literary genius in a society where she cannot express herself poses some stark look at structures, while her answer (probably go insane) reveals again how fundamental this type of control is, how non-negotiable basic equality should be to avoid this kind of intergenerational anguish.

In addition to Woolf's effectiveness in analysis of many given topics, there's also a great energy and value to the way she moves from one angle of focus to another. There's apower fluidity in here that reflects both the power of her thought and the inherent interconnectivity of the issues she faces, women's place in literature leads smoothly into the cultural changes of Britain since the war, which leads to reflections on basic power distribution and the scope of nature. What the question ultimately returns to, and what Woolf powerfully voices, is how widespread the power gap is between men and women, how much the later have been abused, coerced and silenced, and how intolerable this situation is. Woolf's writing is self-consciously a record of main themes of that oppression and a challenge against it.

In a more minor note, it's a bit surprising to encounter repeated references to Mussolini as the archetypal figure of masculinized, militaristic fascism. Pre '33 that makes sense, and works as a reminder on how rapidly political symbols of evil and violence can shift in global vocabulary.

Similar to and better than: Woolf's Three Guineas

Similar to and worse than: Butler's Gender Trouble
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sebastian delmont
This book is very short and it expresses brilliant logic that I have not seen for a while. Virginia Wolf writes her case about women and writing. What it takes to be a woman artist and remain one. She argues very carefully, that woman artist needs means (read: money) and a room of her own where she can express herself without any interruptions from the outside world. While many male counterparts of her times argue that women have no character and are inferior to men, Virginia asks question on how come that almost two tousand years ago, Greeks were writing literary work that described women like: Cleopatra, Medea, Clytemnestra and Electra? These powerful female images have no characted and power? Anyone who read classics knows it is far from that. Virgina also argues from the works of early British female writers such as: Lady Winchilsea, Margaret Newcastle and Aphra Behn, that finest poetry was created by a women of noble birth married into a noble families. These women were educated, cultured, most had no children and had very understanding and supportive husbands or were single. They were lonely creatures who produced valuable work. Women of lower birth and less education, such as Jane Austen and Bronte sisters, were talented, but they wrote about the world they new about: middle class that was all around them. They were social observers who wrote in the crowded living rooms about people that were part of their own world. In addition, they did not produce poems, they produced novels primarily. Virginia argues that only the most perceptive of women are capable of producing remarkable poetry. She also draws similarity that it was male writers from the upper classes that created masterpieces. The exception was Keats, who was poor but who also dies young - since writing is exhausting both physically and emotionally. But she also argues that the finest of male voices who dedicated their lives to writing has sort of sensitivity that is unique to women. So the true writer is never he or she, it is a mix of both sexes. This is one of the most powerful feminist books I have ever read and I admire Virginia Woolf for having a courage to create it and share it with the public.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kaade
This essay taken from a lecture that Virginia Woolf gave to students in England during 1928 is an essential reading for writers and feminists alike.

During the 1920's women writing literature were still struggling for a voice without prejudice. Virginia Woolf emerged as one of the first feminist voices ready to speak out against the silenced history of women writers and historians. In this book she argues that any woman serious about writing must have 500 pounds per year and a room of her own in which to capture a few moments of silence and restore her voice back to power without the pull of all her "womanly" responsibilities. Woolf seems to believe that one of the only true literary voices, one that wrote without anger, fear, or prejudice was Shakespeare and that his works have lasted because of the extension of this idea. Woolf discusses Brönte and leans towards a woman writing with anger the seeps forth in her words and of Austen she expresses appreciation for what she must have endured in order to publish her works in a male dominated industry. Woolf clearly criticizes writer's that allow their gripes to appear in their works rather than their true talents. She appears hopeful that the future holds another Shakespeare and that inevitably it will be a woman who writes so extraordinarily this time around.

Woolf shows herself to be one of the first true feminists our society had during her lifetime. She unabashedly criticizes a society dominated and silenced by men who felt it their duty to protect women from their own fear. Her critique of professors who openly claim women to be inferior is turned towards them as men concerned instead with being superior. She insists that the enlargement of men like Napoleon and Mussolini as well as the many wars society has experienced is purely because the light that is contained within women has been allowed to be dimmed by male domination. Woolf is saddened and disgusted by the fact that history and literature represented women so poorly in the past refusing to offer a woman as being anything more than a lover to a greater man. She also indicates that the suffrage movement probably contributed towards males feeling challenged by something far inferior to their inflated superiority. Her words are quite strong for a woman of her era but also fairly futuristic in thought.

Woolf writes of many intelligent guidelines for any writer in this book. She offers a suggestion that one should write with an androgynous mind allowing both the softness of the feminine and the power of the masculine to come forth in words. A writer must not fear another's opinion but instead believe so forcefully in one's words that criticism cannot cause dishonesty of talent. And of course she is resolute in the fact that a writer needs a room of one's own to come to his or her center and in order to bring forth greatness without prejudice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abdullah alfaqaan
There is no mistaking Woolf's writing style: intricate, introspective, convoluted and then again portraying ideas and situations with brilliant clarity and insight. She ponders the plight of women during her time and through history. Her main question asks why women, despite even those with exceptional talents of intelligence and character, have been abused and dominated by men and relegated to roles as mothers and servants to the men around them. Why are there not great female financiers, writers, academics, etc.? Or why are there too few of them? She searches in many corners such as history books and makes deplorable discoveries: early teen marriages, beatings, restrictions of all sorts, and despicable opinions of women in general by academics and men in other stations. In one instance she compares the plight of Shakespeare and his sister, both equally talented, and you can imagine the results. Her musings are gripping and interesting and at the same time she paints the quality of her physical surroundings quite vividly. This is a favorite book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nessie
I really didn't know much about Virginia Woolf until 2005, when I ended up living with a dear friend who taught at a local college. Like most folks, I knew Woolf was a writer of the early 1900s and I'd seen the movie "The Hours" and that was the sum total of my knowledge.

One day, my dear friend handed me this book and said, "You'll like this."

I was intimidated. After all, it's Virginia Woolf and only really smart people can read Woolf's writings. But I decided to read what I could and glaze over the rest. I ended up tucking myself into bed with this book every night and reading it again and again and again.

Yes, Woolf was a Victorian-era writer and the prose is thick and heavy-laden with Victorian verbosity, but her powerful writing style shines through the complicated sentences and nuanced lexicon.

My very favorite part in this essay, originally delivered to college students, was where she wrote,

"...moreover, it is all very well for you, who have got yourselves to college and enjoy sitting rooms of your own to say that genius should disregard such opinions; that genius should be above caring what is said of it. Unfortunately, it is precisely the men and women of genius who mind most what is said of them."

After reading that, I felt that Ms. Woolf had reached through the decades and touched my very soul. For so many years, I struggled and struggled and struggled to stop caring what people thought or said about me and that single statement uttered and recorded by this amazing woman changed my life forever.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paige smith
Virginia Woolf is a writer of intelligence and grace. A Room of One's Own is a skinny little treasure of a book with words and wisdom that will stay with the reader long after it is read. The essay contained in the book is the result of two papers that Ms. Woolf read to the Arts Society at newnham and Odtaa at Girton (England) in October of 1928. She was asked to speak about the topic of "Women and Fiction", and after doing so, she expanded her papers and later published them as this book.
Woolf begins the essay by writing, "I soon saw that [the subject of women and fiction] 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 mantelpiece 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... 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 opionion one does hold. One can only give one's audience the chance of drawing their own conslusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker."
It is in this straightforward and honest manner that Woolf writes about women and fiction. Although the speech was given and the book was published in 1929, all of its points are still important for women- and especially women writers and artists- today. In A Room of One's Own Woolf examines classic literary works of the past and wonders why most, until the 19th Century, were written by men, and why most of the works published by women in the 19th Century were fiction. She comes to the logical conclusion that women in the past had little to no time to write because of their childbearing and raising responsibilities. There is also the fact that they were not educated and were forbidden or discouraged from writing. When they did begin to write, they only had the common sitting rooms of Elizabethan homes to do so in, which did not provide much solitude or peace of mind, as it was open to any interruption and distraction that came along.
Woolf argues passionately that true independence comes with economic well-being. This is true for countries, governments, individuals, and writers, especially female writers. Without financial security it is impossible for any writer to have the luxury of writing for writing's sake. It is also a very inspiring book for any aspiring write to read. I end this review with Virginia Woolf's own hopes for women in the future:
"... I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream."
(If you liked this review, please read my other book reviews under my the store profile...)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sonya edwards
Where can I begin to describe this wonderful invitation to an exceptionally brilliant mind? 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. Her criticism is sharp and poignant but without bitterness, self-pity, or arrogance, so inviting into her intimate thoughts. She has a great ability to use hypothetical character, such as Judith, Shakespeare's sister, and to use examples--Jane Austen, Coleridge-- so creatively without causing any distraction. This book satisfies her own standard, "One must strain off what was personal and accidental in all these impressions and so reach the pure fluid, the essential oil of truth". This is an excellent book worth reading over and over.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
son kemal
"A Room of One's Own," published in 1929, is an expanded essay combining two papers which author Virginia Woolf presented in 1928 at Newnham and Girton Colleges, the only women's colleges at Cambridge at that time. In this dissertation on women and literature, she discusses the various obstacles facing women involved in the creative process, and stresses the importance of financial and social independence for females. I think this is probably my favorite essay by the author, and one of her finest, most accessible pieces of writing. It is important to note that her interests did not lie particularly in the areas of politics and feminism, but solely on art itself and the freedom to create it.

Ms. Woolf argues that the reason there were so few prominent, highly respected women authors before the twentieth century is because most women had not led lives conducive to creating great art or literature. She posits that there was no actual body of notable women's literature because, in the past, women did not have the education, the income, the privacy, the experiences of travel to broaden their world, or the time to write. Dominated by men throughout history, females have been denied access to education, independent travel, and to publication. Without an independent income, women are totally dependent upon men.

Women are responsible for bearing children, and in almost all cases have the primary responsibility for bringing them up. Few have the luxury of hired help. Although rewarding in many way, child rearing allows for little privacy, independence and solitude, prerequisite conditions for writing, painting or composing. If privacy is non-existent, interruptions block creativity. Ms. Woolf clearly states that what a woman needs is a room of her own and a guaranteed fixed income in order to write noteworthy fiction. Here she challenges women to become economically self-sufficient in order to acquire the necessary intellectual freedom to create outstanding literature. Virginia Woolf believed that the remarkable, the momentous, could be found amongst the mundane details and occurrences of everyday life. She encourages women to write about all of the "minutely obscure lives" which men have ignored, and about themselves, their feelings and their reactions to the world around them. I believe the author's great novel, "Mrs Dalloway" reflects this mindset.

Aphra Behn, (1640 - 1689), was the first female writer to earn her own income from writing. After John Dryden, she was the most prolific dramatist of the Restoration. However, she achieved her place in literary history for her pioneering work in prose narrative. Ms. Behn paved the way for 19th century novelists like Jane Austen, George Eliot and the Bronte sisters, who were able to write in their family sitting-rooms or libraries, despite their lack of independence and privacy. Woolf wrote/spoke: "All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds. It is she - shady and amorous as she was - who makes it not quite fantastic for me to say to you tonight: Earn five hundred a year by your wits."

Ms. Woolf quotes Sir Arthur Quiller-Coach, a Professor of Literature who wrote: "The poor poet has not in these days, nor has had for two hundred years, a dog's chance...a poor child in England has little more hope than had the son of an Athenian slave to be emancipated into that intellectual freedom of which great writings are born." Ms Woolf goes on to state that obviously this noted professor believes that intellectual freedom depends upon material things. "Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but from the beginning of time. Women have had less intellectual freedom than the sons of Athenian slaves. Women, then, have not had a dog's chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one's own."

A good part of "A Room of One's Own" analyzes the patriarchal British society that so limited a woman's opportunities. Woolf theorized that while male authors write about women and allow their heroines to "shine like beacons" in fiction, in reality women were often treated like slaves, not free to choose their own mates, and frequently beaten by their husbands and fathers. She goes on to say that men historically belittle women as a means of asserting their own superiority. She uses the metaphor of a looking-glass relationship, men, threatened by the thought of losing their power, need to reduce women to enlarge themselves.

The androgynous ideal, the writer with an androgynous mind, where a writer uses both parts of the brain equally, is also championed here. "The androgynous mind is resonant and porous; it transmits emotion without impediment; it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided." This is a fascinating proposition which Woolf explored more fully in her 1928 novel "Orlando," a fantasy set in the Elizabethan court, tracing the career of the androgynous protagonist from a masculine identity to a feminine identity.

Woolf constructed this essay as a partly-fictionalized narrative to make her points vividly. She invents an imaginary female narrator, a talented contemporary novelist of some potential. Unfortunately, because she lacks models and a tradition to draw on, our narrator is a hundred years away from being able to develop her gifts fully, to "be a poet." A fictional historic character is introduced, Miss Judith Shakespeare, the very gifted sibling of Will, in order to illustrate the sorry fate of highly intelligent, creative women in the past. This device is extremely effective in bringing home the difficulties of talented women living in the traditional world.

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.

JANA
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kelly
In 1928, Virginia Woolf was asked to speak on the topic of "women and fiction". The result, based upon two papers she delivered to literary societies at Newnham and Girton in October of that year, was "A Room of One's Own", an extended essay on women as both writers of fiction and as characters in fiction. And, while Woolf suggests that, "when a subject is highly controversial-and any question about sex is that-one cannot hope to tell the truth," her essay is, in fact, an extraordinarily even-handed, thoughtful and perceptive reflection on the topic.
Woolf begins with a simple and enigmatic opinion: "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 unresolved." From this spare beginning, Woolf deftly explores the difference between how women had been portrayed in fiction, and how they actually lived in the world, during the preceding centuries. "A very queer, composite being emerges. Imaginatively, she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact she was a slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger."
The source of dissonance between how women were portrayed in fiction, and how they actually lived, was the fact that most fiction prior to the nineteenth century was written by men. As Woolf astutely points out, "[i]t was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen's day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex." Woolf's observation is no feminist polemic; it is, rather, an incisive comment on how fiction was impoverished when it was written only by men.
Even when fiction was written by women, it was powerfully influenced by patriarchal notions of virtue and the proper role of women. Thus, Woolf suggests there could be no female Shakespeare in sixteenth century England because no women would be tolerated who lived in the real world like the Bard. "No girl could have walked to London and stood at a stage door and forced her way into the presence of actor-managers without doing herself violence and suffering an anguish which may have been irrational-for chastity may be a fetish invented by societies for unknown reasons-but were none the less inevitable." Indeed, this "relic of the sense of chastity" dictated that more daring female authors-George Eliot, George Sand, Currer Bell-maintain anonymity as late as the nineteenth century.
When female writers did find a "room of their own," they were still limited by social and cultural imperatives. Thus, the first of the great women novelists-Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot-wrote largely from the drawing room, not from the experiences of the larger world-the very conditions of their writing life being as cramped as the their restricted lives. As Woolf notes, in commenting on Charlotte Bronte, "[s]he knew, no one better, how enormously her genius would have profited if it had not spent itself in solitary visions over distant fields; if experience and intercourse and travel had been granted her. But they were not granted, they were withheld."
Ultimately, Woolf suggests that the "true" nature of women will only be approached in fiction when women are sufficiently independent-not only in a financial sense, but in the sense of being freed from societal and cultural restraints-to explore the quotidian, the everyday lives of people in the world. This is the aspect of the fictional world that, in Woolf's view, was absent from the male-dominated novel prior to the nineteenth century.
Woolf further suggests that the "true" nature of fiction is expressed only through those writers who can transcend their narrow sexual roles-become "man-womanly" or "woman-manly"-so as to convey the fullness of the real world. As Woolf notes, "Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous. It is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilised and uses all of its faculties." Based on this criterion, Woolf promulgates her own canon of English male writers, a canon which includes Shakespeare, Keats, Sterne, Cowper, Lamb, Coleridge, and Proust (who "was perhaps wholly androgynous, if not perhaps a little too much of a woman").
"A Room of One's Own" is, in sum, a fascinating, thoughtful and perceptive essay on women and fiction written by one of the Twentieth century's most formidable writers and thinkers, a woman who truly succeeded in creating a room of her own in the canon of modern English literature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brent darsch
Ah, Virginia! Never is she more charming or likeable than when she writes this book. This is a very important book nowadays, I think, when a lot of women who have gained a lot from the feminist movement are now saying "I'm not a feminist", perhaps because the word is now associated with aggression and intolerance. Let's not get into that argument! But anyway, A Room of One's Own, is cool because it makes you feel good about being a woman, and it highlights so gently and kindly and humorously the biases that may exist in your own mind and in society around you about what women can and can't and should do. I read somewhere that VW was motivated to cheer up young women who seemed so depressed. It works! I don't know what other people think: is there irony in the way she talks about how women must flatter and please and be charming to get their way; and then she herself is so flattering and charming in this book? I don't know. I learnt a lesson, though, about how to argue. I wish VW were alive. I've wanted for years now to contact her and say thankyou, and then to tell her how things are going these days.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kellie dodge
Written in the late 1920's this long essay/book continues to be fresh and pertinent. The cause of feminist equality has improved somewhat in the intervening years but is still falls shamefully short of full emancipation.

As Woolf so eloquently puts it, a woman needs money and a room of one's own. And it is still a rare woman who has both. Her use of the imaginary tale of Shakespeare's sister and her "feminine" fate still has weight and packs a significant punch of truth.

The other significant factor that Woolf does not touch on in this essay is time. The weight of child rearing, housework and domesticity still falls heavily on women. There has been some movement with men being involved in that area but the movement is very, very slow. Added to that, it is a rare woman who does not have to work and bring income into the household.

Woolf continues to speak with honesty to the issues of feminism and women over the intervening bridge of years. This book still resonates. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
julija
Virginia Woolf was an amazing writer, one who could create entire novels around the minutiae of daily living that explored far greater matters than what the surface suggested. "A Room of One's Own" is an essay based on two lectures that Woolf gave about women and fiction. While some aspects have certainly changed since 1929 what Woolf has to say about successful women writers is relevant today.

Woolf begins her essay with a retelling of a visit to a fictionalized college, a men's college, where she is not allowed in the library and where the food is of far greater quality than one would find at a women's college. From there, Woolf travels to a women's college, with its meager offerings (both in terms of food and what women can learn) before examining just what it is a woman needs to be successful, especially if she wants to write. Woolf then offers a theory about Shakespeare's sister. What if he had a sister who was just as much of a genius as he was? It wouldn't matter because she would have been smothered by the traditions of the day and give no opportunity to write verse. This leads Woolf into an examination of women who wrote throuout history, the best known examples being wealthy women who had leisure enough to write. Woolf marvels at how Jane Austen assays able to write novels that are still beloved today, in a living room crowded with people.

Woolf's examination of female writers and the men who made what they wrote a possibility as well is far from complete. At times the author is perhaps too harsh on some writers, but that was her opinion, which not all readers will agree with. Also, Woolf can come across as arrogant, which detracts from what she is trying to stress. Women must have their own space and their own income to become what they want and are destined to be.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessica graves
Woolf's "A Room of One's Own", a collection of papers Woolf delivered for the literary societies of Girton and Newnham in 1928, stands as an all-time classic of the feminist movement.
The thesis of the essays consists of the simple statement that womens' literature would be on par with that of men, if women had had the same levels of income, privacy, and experience as their counterparts. Woolf's main illustration of this principle was a hypothetical sister to Shakespeare, who, even with the same talents as her brother, would have never had the chances to display her talents to the world.
This book is actually rather apolitical, dealing directly with the arts. It is very positive, and is not accusitory towards men. It is straightforward and brief, and brings its point across quickly. For its time, it was an excellent and radical short work, but over the last 70 years it has lost some of its relevance to the modern reader, as its thesis has gradually been proven true.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kirsteen
Some of Virginia Woolf's writing is difficult for the modern reader to plough through - loooong sentences, convoluted construction, excessive naval gazing (in fictional form). But A Room of One's Own, a very long essay about feminism, independence, writing, and becoming one's own person, is actually quite readable, quite educational, and quite wonderful. The reader, at least this one, feels she's in the presence of a great mind at work as it ruminates on and on about these topics in a somewhat rambling but engaging personal reflection. Although written in 1929, the situation for women artists hasn't changed all that much, so it's far from dated.
A must-read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
natalie bagley
This is a beautifully written and highly enjoyable exploration of the history of women in writing. It is also a plea for the liberation of women, and their full entrance into the world of Literature. Woolf argues that a woman needs financial independence, a room , that is a space of her own, if she is to be able to truly create. She also needs the kind of access to everyday life that women confined to hearth and home were as she sees it, traditionally denied.

She urges that Woman enter into all fields of writing, and develop in directions they had no opportunity to develop in before.

She also perhaps reflecting on her own experience and nature argues for the androgynous nature of the creator, seeing in Shakespeare, Keats and certainly Proust a strong feminine element.

Woolf anticipates and perhaps in some sense helps creates the vast flourishing of Literature written by women which will come in the decades after her.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
janece
This is not just an essay on feminism, this is a window to Virginia Woolf's thought pattern and logic. A Room of One's Own is beautifully written, it almost reads like a novel yet is packed with insightful thoughts on the idea of being an independent woman. The roles of women have changed since Virginia wrote this book but that in no way renders this book obsolete, for there are many struggles yet to be overcome and Virginia foresaw that in this book.

Her hopes and dreams for women are beautifully expressed and heartwarming. This book is like a gem, the more you look at it the brighter it shines. I have reread A Room of One's Own many times and gotten so much from it. Its a book you will not regret owning. Simply inspiring.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
myke reiser
*Ideal readers: I bought the book A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas on the store last year, and I was greatly inspired by the thoughts of Virginia Woolf. As far as I am concerned, this book is ideal for not only females who are trying to find inner inspiration, strength and motivation, but also all the readers who want to learn more on today’s gender issues. I give recommendation to both women and men.
*Features: The best characteristics of this book include three points.
1.Richness of contents --- The first criteria that I used to evaluate the book is whether the contents are rich and vivid. If the book can provide meaningful contents rich in substances that can guide readers to reflect on their life or social issues, the contents should be considered desirable. The contents in this book give insights into the common heritage of women. Through reading the stories written by Woolf, readers would know that any gender should not be overlooked or set aside because both women and men have equal importance to the society and the development of the world. "Human" dignity is an inseparable thing for every human being, no matter female or male.
2.Craft of language --- This criterion for evaluating a book is necessary because a qualified essay or fiction will always need to attract readers by the words feature of "picture in words". The language used by Woolf is very eloquent and poetic, making readers be able to follow and comprehend her thoughts but without transiting from one viewpoint to another in a fast way. With intense female consciousness, the author has showed her own amazing features in choosing the materials and in using the stylistic language.
3.Quality of book --- The paper quality or the appearance of a book also influences the evaluation. Thirdly, this book comes in a very convenient size and can even fit in the pocket; thus readers who purchased this book can read it at any place very conveniently. Also, the quality of papers of this book is desirable because the papers inside are not very thin like those in many books today.
*The only shortage of this book perhaps is that when I received it I found this book did not use the original packaging, but I think it endows this book a sense of period which I could accept.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gordon
Her argument goes: "Intellectual freedom depends upon material things." The intellectual freedom of writing books, good books, depends on a person's ability to acquire income and to have their own space, undisturbed and unashamed. Virginia Woolf suggests that she is an amateur in this matter, and, due to her lack of formal education, finds it difficult to properly research the topic. However, she proves herself competent in making a coherent argument that is convincing, though her conclusions are no longer very surprising. It is difficult to argue against her, to say that women, who have had substantially lower incomes than men and have faced many stigmas and prejudices are not disadvantaged in producing works of literature or art or in making intellectual contributions.
As I said, her argument is no longer new. Most people probably do not have to read this book in order to agree with her main thesis. But she does make a few interesting points about the role of women in literature and what the effects of increased freedom for women might be. For the method of the argument alone this book has value: "...one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold." She does not ask you to agree, but only to understand why she thinks what she does.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jamila
Oh, this was VERY good. And totally still applies today, sometimes shockingly so. A few times this felt dated, but mostly it was a very sharp, entertaining, poignant, and important essay. I enjoyed the format of both lectures quite a lot. The first was brilliant, following the day of one woman thinking about the issues of women and literature, and seeing that woman encounter all types of barriers in her everyday living. The second provided more of the "meat and potatoes" (the heart and facts) of the problems faced by women who wish to participate in literature. The fictionalized story of Shakespeare's sister was very powerful.

I'll definitely be thinking about this for awhile.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ebany
Shouldn't be the first Woolf you read. I didn't take to this essay, it was a awkward read. Not that it was not well written, just presented in a manner that you need to pay a lot of attention to get through it. The message is historically interesting and really lays out the oppression of the female sex in relation to creative endeavors and their representation or lack thereof in history.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dania
"A Room of One's Own" is not only the remarkable, timeless masterpiece of 20th century writer Virginia Woolf, but also a thrilling adventure through an innovative feminist's mind. The book is classic, but also touches on aspects of literary criticism and pure creativity. Instead of arguing angry or audacious nonsense, Woolf carefully words each sentence to instill a sense of curiosity and determination in her reader. She challenges our humanity and leisurely pressures us to think and follow her along on her journey to investigate women and their limited privacy. She presents the idea that in order for women to be successful authors of fiction, they must have money and a room of one's own. She considers men's accomplishments in addition to those of women, and uses that comparison as a means of establishing credibility instead of tearing the success of men of the past down. Her logical reasoning and use of syllogism create a solid base for her argument that is accessible to any and all women with the intellectual capacity and desire to read Woolf's presentation of the 20th century feminist's dream.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
e mark pelmore
She rambled around a bit but made some very important points about women, and writing inside the traditional male-driven hegemony. While I thought it could have been better written without such a stream of consciousness that she throws upon us, she makes some very important points. Near the end of her essay are a few sentences that I think synthesize nicely much of the syllogism she conveyed:

"Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but from the beginning of time. Women have had less intellectual freedom than the sons of Athenian slaves. Women, then, have not had a dog's chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one's own."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura l
I read this book in Paris when I was living as a journalist and this book had a big impact on me. It set out how someone could become a writer, though I have yet to be published is besides the point as I have not given up hope! As always, great to see Woolf's oeuvre popping up on Kindle- I can own a room of one's own in my own room!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
danya
In this book, Virginia Woolf explores the following thesis: "Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom." Writing at a time when, as she herself stated in her diary, writing was not a respectable occupation for women, Woolf showed great courage in propounding this profoundly simple, pithy book.
The book began as a lecture which she prepared for a girl's school. Asked to lecture on the subject of women and fiction, she determined to propound her theory that financial independence was necessary for the creation of genius. In her way of thinking, women throughout history may have had genius, but were never given the opportunity to develop it, being always dependant upon men for their social and financial standing. She urged women to earn their own living through writing; to break free of these social and financial constraints. However, in speaking out against the male-dominated intellectual scene, she did so without anger, without acrimony. Her usual good humor and simplicity, found so clearly in her diary and letters, shine throughout the book, making it invaluable not only as a social statement, but also as a precious insight into her personality. She is in turn serious, playful, mocking, and tender.
A Room of One's Own is not so applicable today as it was seventy-five years ago, but it is still valuable as an historical document; as a moral boost for aspiring young women writers; and as a further insight into the character of Virginia Woolf.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sara veldhuizen stealy
Critics might agree or disagree with Virginia Woolf, based on the degree to which they perceive her as threatening or unstable.

Whether Woolf is portraying a feminist view or not in her "A Room of One's Own"; she is outstandingly candid and honest about the way she's perceiving life.

I agree with a few great points that Woolf raised for example:

1. As Woolf puts it in her own words: "intellectual freedom depends upon material things". No one who's financially dependent can have the freedom to explore any intellectual versions.

2-One of most Woolf's fascinating opinions is her view of the subjective nature of truth. When a subject is highly controversial, no one can actually tell the truth, but simply defend her or his opinion and how they arrived at their opinion. Each person's reality simply depends on the circumstances and experiences they encountered, therefore, no reality is absolutely objective.
In that way, Woolf insinuates that all the truth she presented in her book is questionable, just a very interesting way of dealing with any controversial matter.

I strongly disagree that these points or ideas apply only to females. I think, they apply to every human being, but because of Woolf's own experience as a female, I believe she had to apply them to only females.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sunanda kodavyur
This is the first of three books of Jill's that I read recently. Since I was planning to hand her A.S. Byatt's Possession (my pick for the best book that I read in 1993), she felt that it would take three books to make an equivalent trade, and I agreed to the terms.
I had seen part of a dramatization of this essay once, and had heard many references to this work, so it was about time that I read it for myself (one of these days I'll pick up Heart of Darkness in the same vein). I'm happy to have done so, for now I understand where Shakespeare's sister and Chloe likes Olivia falls into the scheme of the argument. It's nice to note that the state of women's writing has improved tremendously since this was originally presented. As a man, I like to see this same argument now as genderless--that is, the room and the money that one needs to support oneself is necessary to any writer, no matter what gender.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tajja i
In "A Room of One's Own," Virginia Woolf explores the topics of feminism, individuality, and financial independence. Unlike many of Woolf's other works, this essay is very accessible to the reader. She presents wonderful arguments in an extremely creative way. This book is possibly one of the most important pieces of feminist literary criticism in history...it is not to be missed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
charlston goch
70 years have passed since the first publication of "A Room of One's Own," and yet we have not seen as many dramatic changes, let alone improvements, in social mentality as early feminist thinkers like Virginia Woolf wished to provoke to establish women's new role as equal to men's. She argued that the reason why there was no female Shakespeare is not that women are biologically inferior to men but that there was simply no "room" for women to develop themselves, both metaphorically and realistically speaking. Therefore, in this book she encourages women to have a room of their own and a stable income to ensure a career. However, women, in the past as well as the present, have long been "grounded" by men. For a woman to have a room of her own and a stable income means that the woman is invading (from male chauvinistic viewpoint) men's territory, and this kind of behavior (and thoughts) is not to be allowed in male-dominated societies.
Early feminist thinkers like Virginia Woolf provided later generations with iron-cast proof (as far as I'm concerned) that women are no "second sex" by pointing out the false discriminations men put against women for men's own convenience. (Ironically, I see men suffer as well from doing so.) Thinkers like Virginia Woolf provided "rooms" to develop feminist thoughts, and these rooms also provoke controversies and debates because feminist way of thinking is revolutionary. At any rate, there would be no improvements of women's role in society if there were no Virginia Woolf and other first-wave feminist thinkers.
At the end of the twentieth century, in spite of the burgeoning "industry" of feminism, the real condition of women appears to be quite depressing. The real condition of women goes like this: "During the last decades women's representation in education has grown enormously but so has our [their] participation in low paid and part-time work. So that, for example, the percentage of women in German higher education has doubled yet the degree of confidence German women express for women in non-traditional jobs is one of the lowest in Europe...," and "similarly feminist literary criticism has created a lively and substantial body of work in the last decades but continues to exist in a hostile and often marginal academic place." ("A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Feminist Literary Criticism", 1994: 290) One cannot fail to see (if one is willing to open his or her eyes) that we have made just a tiny bit of progress since the first-wave feminism. There is room for improvement, indeed, but people's ignorance of women's real position in society, women's subordinate educational, economical, and political conditions, and the overall social status of women being secondary, must first be recognized. In this sense, Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" appears to be especially inspiring.
In my opinion, feminism is not only for or about women, it is also for and about men, because the world is composed of both sexes, and men suffer (without understanding, because of stupidity) from the traditional, male chauvinistic attitude as well. What is important is that feminist way of thinking is a breakthrough, revolutionary philosophy that challenges the way we perceive the world for centuries. "A Room of One's Own" opens my mind's eye; it is, no doubt, a classic that must be read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brian wilkins
After having read several books by so-called feminist writers I have decided for myself that Woolf is one of the greatest. A Room of One's Own is not only valuable for female writers, but for all women trying to fulfill their dreams. 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 am truly impressed by Woolf's work and would like to recommend her to those who are a little curious about what she has to contribute!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amanda dickman
A Room of One¡¦s Own is an essay, which is ¡§based upon two papers read to the Arts Society at Newnham and the Odtaa at Girton¡¨ in 1928.Virginia Woolf, an advocate and speaker for women, gives a really good and important lesson to females. She challenges the norm and tradition of the patriarchal society. By questioning the phenomenon of the society, Woolf clearly points out the insufficient opportunities for women and the deprivation of talented women in different ways, especially in education and work. For the essay, Woolf invents Shakespeare¡¦s sister, Judith, and tells us the life of Judith. She shows us that society overlooks the talent of women; thus, a lot of intelligent women are not recognized in the world. She urge people to open their eyes, take a serious look at women and praise them for their talents.
The other important message that Woolf brings to women is about freedom and the ways to strive for it. Adequate income and a room of one¡¦s own are the two essential factors for a woman to earn freedom. These basics can free women from getting nothing but children. Women can have more choices besides staying at home and doing housework; life will be different if one has her own space. I think Woolf¡¦s Essay is indeed a timeless lecture for every woman. As a woman, I think we should use our knowledge to strike for freedom and opportunities for ourselves and our next generations, just like Virginia Woolf challenges the norm and system of the society.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yulianto qin
Virginia Woolf in her best form - personal but not self-centred, concentrated and ready to fight for what she believes is right. This long essay gives her views on the position of women in literature but offers also an overview of their role through centuries - from the imaginary Shakespeare's sister to her contemporaries. A must read for all readers regardless of sex!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kishoo0oo
When I read this book the first time I was enthralled. We really take for granted the position our mothers and grandmothers worked so hard to ensure for us. I forget how close in time we are to when women couldn't vote or attend male universities.
Virginia Woolf was provided a room of her own to be able to create the work that has become so influential in twentieth century writing. In an ideal world everyone would be allowed to artistically express themselves without having to be in the "real world." I know that since I graduated from college and have been working 40-50 hour work weeks, I am less inclined to read or write. I don't feel like I can let that be my excuse, though, just because it would be easier to write if I could spend all my time doing it. The request that women have money and a room seems very upper-middle-class and out of touch with the way life was even in Woolf's time.
In spite of those criticisms, I am so glad I read this book. It made me feel empowered as a woman and a writer. This is a must read for anyone trying to understand the history of feminism.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
iuliana
I really didn't know much about Virginia Woolf until 2005, when I ended up living with a dear friend who taught at a local college. Like most folks, I knew Woolf was a writer of the early 1900s and I'd seen the movie "The Hours" and that was the sum total of my knowledge.

One day, my dear friend handed me this book and said, "You'll like this."

I was intimidated. After all, it's Virginia Woolf and only really smart people can read Woolf's writings. But I decided to read what I could and glaze over the rest. I ended up tucking myself into bed with this book every night and reading it again and again and again.

Yes, Woolf was a Victorian-era writer and the prose is thick and heavy-laden with Victorian verbosity, but her powerful writing style shines through the complicated sentences and nuanced lexicon.

My very favorite part in this essay, originally delivered to college students, was where she wrote,

"...moreover, it is all very well for you, who have got yourselves to college and enjoy sitting rooms of your own to say that genius should disregard such opinions; that genius should be above caring what is said of it. Unfortunately, it is precisely the men and women of genius who mind most what is said of them."

After reading that, I felt that Ms. Woolf had reached through the decades and touched my very soul. For so many years, I struggled and struggled and struggled to stop caring what people thought or said about me and that single statement uttered and recorded by this amazing woman changed my life forever.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
heidi giglio
It's a disgrace to sell such sloppily edited text. There are hundreds of typos, missing commas, even missing words. This is no way to honor such a significant work. I would ask for a refund if I knew how.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
liz bishop
Virginia Woolf in her best form - personal but not self-centred, concentrated and ready to fight for what she believes is right. This long essay gives her views on the position of women in literature but offers also an overview of their role through centuries - from the imaginary Shakespeare's sister to her contemporaries. A must read for all readers regardless of sex!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
breanne gustin
Familiar with Virginia Woolf only from reputation, I picked up a copy of this book at an antique store. It sat on my nightstand for over a year before I opened the very short essay. Written almost 100 years ago, I related so well to her words, it's one of the few books I know I'll read again, and again. I've actually underlined sections - something I never do! Great for female writers and those who love them.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
reza
This may be a longer essay than many may be used to reading, but it is worth reading! It is brilliant! That is practically the only word I can describe it by. Some of her best work/thoughts and quotes on literature is in this essay. If you are a fan of Virginia Woolf, you must read this. If you are just starting to read her writings, this is a great introducion to her work. If anything it will make you want to read more of her writings( which is exactly what happened to me after I read this!) !
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
geralynn ross
I'm not much of an avid reader, but this book absolutely changed my perspective on us as women. This is the first written work that I have read by Virginia Woolf, and surely it will not be the last. I strongly believe that this a is a book that every young girl and adult woman, should read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jdk1962
I read A Room Of One's Own three years ago and I still remember it such a great book, it's interesting and helped me to reconogize on me a hidded writer woman. This book make me free and I really fell in love of it. I agree, a woman needs a room and the necesary privacy to dream.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alioune
This essay reunites several works from Virginia Woolf about the right of women to possess a place - a room- to read, write and work, intended that not as domestic work as was usual for women during many times.

This book is very good. The problem with it today is many people uses this work only as a vindicating feminist weapon, while few people has truly read it, but remember, Virginia Woolf wanted that room not for itself, but for a finality: to do an intellectual task inside. Some people forgets this fundamental fact.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
morgan bird
Though I'm not always enamored with Woolf's writing style, I do always find inspiration in this book. Her dedication to art, feminism and independence was before its time, and still seems somewhat progressive. I recommend this book to women, artists and anyone who can appreciate the power of independence.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aliaa
after i ordered this book, the distributors let me know instantly that they no longer had the book on shelf, and instantly refunded my account. speedy service is one thing, but keeping the customer informed is another...thanks
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
novall
Virginia Woolf is in no way an encouragement to young women writers. This book is a downer, filled with many inaccurate conclusions and information, including many twisted facts concerning Charlotte Bronte and views.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
nansat16
After being forced to read this book for English class, I feel it my obligation to let people know just how bad it is. Woolf is an ardent feminist, and will go to whateer length necessary to tell her audience of the supposed atrocities committed upon society by men. According to her, men are pigs who simply suppress women to elevate themselves. Her constant self-contradiction (is she not doing here the same thing that she accuses men of?) makes her thesis difficult to believe. Her unusual style, using dashes instead of proper names, only distracts the reader. All in all, I do not recommend this book to anyone who is capable of conscious thought.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
rememberme803
Although this critique might be viewed by my professors as academic suicide, I shall plunge headfirst and hope that the branches of tolerance break my fall. I do not like A Room of Ones Own. I understand the concept of stylized writing, but the content of the book does nothing to draw in the reader. Certainly, Woolf's mastery in writing should be applauded on its merit; however, I am not progressed far enough in my education to fully appreciate Woolf's subtleties. There is nothing in A Room of One's Own that remains once the book is closed, although the pages are full of wonderful ideas. The presentation of these ideas; however, are uninteresting and handled in a very preachy manner. It is my opinion that such revolutionary ideas should have been shot forth from a canon rather than whispered in a library
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