A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published on the 24th of October, 1929, the essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women’s colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled Women and Fiction, and hence the essay, are considered nonfiction. The essay is seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy.
This novel is a great read that I think all women should read, especially when you are in the mood to gain from an insightful read.
My favourite parts about this essay were when Woolf talked about the struggles of classic female authors – Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Shakespeare’s hypothetical sister. It’s easy to think “I’m sure those women had a hard time writing!” without stopping to think about the times they lived in and how they’d just recently won the right to vote. Woolf scattered in plenty of details about women’s daily lives for context, though I got the impression that the women she talked about were already fairly well off anyway.
If I ever find myself in the mood for feminist non-fiction in the future I’d probably re-rate this higher, but for now I have to be honest and say I just didn’t totally love it. It read more like a quick historical anecdote to me.