‘A room of one’s own’ by Virginia Woolf

Yup another one of hers. Just as famous so I’m not going to discuss it in too much details because, heck, it’s early and I haven’t had any breakfast which means the brain is not quite in gear… and so many words have been written about it I couldn’t possibly add anything meaningful.

I will however say that it was all I expected to be. In a good way. Maybe more.

Let’s consider it was written in 1928, originally it based on a couple of speeches she gave to two women colleges in Cambridge. 1928. The same year that in England women finally got the vote on equal terms with men. Still though… things weren’t exactly equal.

In this little book, barely over 100 pages, Woolf fiercely argues for the necessity of women to have a room to call their own and £500 a year in order to be able to write… which is to say that she fiercely argues for a metaphorical space for women in the world of literature dominated by men and most of all for financial independence.

All those years ago she wrote:

… you will agree that the excuse of lack of opportunity. training, encouragement, leisure and money no longer holds good.

She is so ahead of her time… How would she react if she knew that 90 years later women, while able to be financial independent, are still earning less than men and are still fighting for equality?

I think she’d be a little cross and she’d be given us all a metaphorical kick in the rear and encourage us, push us to do more…

At the very least she’d think us lazy. I daren’t think what else.

So if, like me, you’ve started the day with a semi-argument with your husband over his ‘inability’ to fill in a pay-in slip and could I please do it – you don’t want to know the details and my eloquent ‘chosen’ words – talking about this book has a certain irony.

Have a good day.

Some fab quotes:

“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.” 

“Suppose, for instance, that men were only represented in literature as the lovers of women, and were never the friends of men, soldiers, thinkers, dreamers; how few parts in the plays of Shakespeare could be allotted to them; how literature would suffer! We might perhaps have most of Othello; and a good deal of Antony; but no Caesar, no Brutus, no Hamlet, no Lear, no Jaques–literature would be incredibly impoverished, as indeed literature is impoverished beyond our counting by the doors that have been shut upon women.” 

“The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.” 

One thought on “*52* A room of one’s own

  1. Jo says:

    Hi Monica,
    That is a phrase that often rolls around my head, it fits well with a couple of things in my life at the mo. I had to write an essay to contrast 2 paintings so I wandered into The Wilson and chose 2. One was the Vanessa Bell and I have been reading up on the Bloomsbury group. It also connected well with a trip I did at the weekend. We took the teenage kids over to Wales for few days to celebrate a birthday and I realised we were very close to Laugherne. So while we were waiting for teenagers to surface in the morning we went to see Dylan Thomas writing hut and boathouse. Reading of his “writing” timetable (!) and how his wife Caitlin, supported his writing I was struck buy the same phrase and wondered what she would have done with her life if not raising kids while supporting a drunk poet.
    Really enjoying these thought provoking posts of yours.


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