Many years have lapsed sinee Virginia Woolf spoke at Newnham and Girton colleges on the subject of women and fiction. Her remarkable words are preserved for future generations of women in A Room of One's Own. This essay is the "first manifesto of the modern feminist movement" (Samuelson), and has been called "a notable preamble to a kind of feminine Declaration of Independence" (Muller 34). Woolf writes that her modest goal for this ground-breaking essay is to "encourage the young women--they seem to get fearfully depressed" (qtd. in Gordon xiv). This treatise on the history of women's writings, reasons for the scarcity of great women artists, and suggestions for future literary creators and creations accomplishes far more than simple inspiration and motivation for young writers. Woolf questions the "effect . . . poverty [has] on fiction" and the "conditions . . . necessary for the creation of works of art" (25), and she persuasively argues that economics are as important as talent and inspiration in the creative process. She emphatically states and, with brilliant fiction, supports her thesis that every woman "must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction" (4). Woolf's witty and beautifully crafted essay has a practical message for aspiring women writers: as pioneers in the virtually unexplored frontier of women's literature, and to create timeless, powerful works of art, they must forsake the established mores of masculine creativity and forge their own traditions and styles.
Woolf introduces this new literary tradition through the structure of her lecture. Rather than follow the traditional format established through centuries of male lect...
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Rosenman, Ellen Bayuk. The Invisible Presence: Virginia Woolf and the Mother-Daughter Relationship.
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1986.
Schwartz, Beth C. "Thinking back Through our Mothers: Virginia Woolf Reads Shakespeare." SLA 58 (1991):
Samuelson, Joan. Lecture. English 2323. Kingwood College. Kingwood, 13 April 1993.
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Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. 1929. New York: Harvest-Harcourt, 1989.
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