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Brilliant essay from Virgina Woolf
on 8 July 2014
A brilliant essay from virgina Woolf.
The title sums up the core of the essay - the necessity for women writers of the early 20th century to have a fixed independent income [£500 a year] and a room of her own, essential requirements for free expression where the writer can give her work full attention without other demands upon her time. Such privileges the author had due to a legacy from her aunt; but in my opinion one which she fully appreciated and thus uses to ignite the theme of this essay.
Woolf takes us through the centuries of the dearth of women writers due to their lack of education - from a hypothetical sister of Shakespeare, who in a patriarchal society would be forbidden to give full rein to creative work even if her talent was obvious. She also examines notable writers such as Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot, leading onto milestones in female emancipation such as Florence Nightingale, women's suffrage and the aftermath of the era of the first world war.
I particularly liked the way she queried obvious patriarchal privileges as a guest speaker at Oxbridge. Why a choice of wine with a gourmet meal for the male students/residents and only a bland meal with a water jug passed round for the women's college where she dined? In the year of 1928 she was well aware that there were discriminations and hurdles yet to be overcome, all of which she examines in her stream of consciousness fashion.
A must for all lovers of good literature, feminism and those with an interest in early 20th century society and culture.