In her inaugural lecture, Professor Lee explores the history of women's reading, in particular the reading of women writers of the twentieth century who did much of their early reading at home. She traces the importance of the place of reading in the childhood memory of such writers - a place which may be secret and hidden and may exist in antagonism to, as well as under the jurisdiction or guidance of, parental reading. This vivid, private, physical memory of reading is placed in the context of the history of reading in the West, in which prohibition, censorship, and instructions on right and proper ways of reading have always coexisted with un-licensed or subversive reading. This history of conflict between authorized and unauthorized reading has been particularly applied to women readers. The lecture spans the medieval to the modern period, offering examples of attempts to regulate the reading of young women and of responses to such regulation, whilst concentrating on individual women writers - Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Eudora Welty, Edith Wharton, and others - who have written most eloquently about the physical obsession and private pleasure of reading, and suggesting how this experience shapes and informs their adult writing.