Exploring Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own for Wisdom on Writing and Life
Virginia Woolf was once asked to speak about women and fiction.
Woolf wandered the streets of London, sat by the riverside, pored over shelves full of books in the British Museum, went to luncheons, and considered the then state of literature. While working in a constricted space in that London where women weren’t even allowed to walk on turf paths in colleges (only men and students could), Virginia created a masterpiece on why there were limited women writers and even more limited writings by them.
Woolf delivered the lectures in October 1928 at the women’s colleges of Cambridge University. Published in September 1929, A Room of One’s Own is an essay based on those lectures.
Woolf went back to the works of Proust, Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Aphra Behn, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Kipling, Keats, and many more known and unknown writers to understand the truth. She read fiction written by women and studied her contemporaries’ books. She contemplated why the writing of men scorned women and if women were writing good fiction.
In the essays, Virginia emphasized — while showing her detailed thought process — “that a woman needs money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
In addition to being a seminal work on feminism, A Room of One’s Own is an infinite pool of wisdom on writing and life. In the essay, Virginia Woolf argued passionately and statistically about how cultural, spiritual, and financial restrictions may limit our creative freedom.
Given the essay has so much to read into, I will only delve into the lessons on life and writing that Woolf was so benevolent in sharing with us.