A Room of One's Own
In one of the most entertaining and brilliant essays ever written on the importance of freedom for women, Woolf brings her literary imagination and defiant wit to bear on the relationship between gender, money, and the creation of works of genius. "Why did men drink wine and women water? Why was one sex so prosperous and the other so poor? What effect has poverty on fiction?" These are among the questions preoccupying Woolf as she embarks on an odyssey of preparation for her 1928 lecture to two British women's colleges. By "lunching here, dining there, drawing pictures in the British Museum, taking books from the shelf, looking out of the window," Woolf's character explores the process of literary creation and how it is affected by inferior education, lack of freedom, and a surfeit of discouragement. If Shakespeare had had a sister his equal in talent, she concludes, a legion of social and material obstacles would have prevented her from ever expressing it. Women must have money and rooms of their own, Woolf told her audience, if they are to write fiction. They must have the liberty "to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future and the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream." They must write books on every subject and fertilize every field of knowledge with their own understanding; and their writing must draw on both the masculine and feminine parts of themselves, for "it is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilised and uses all its faculties." Then, when the next woman is born whose gift is a match for Shakespeare's, her talent will be allowed to bloom. -- Inside jacket flaps.