Imagine that Shakespeare had a sister—a sister equal to Shakespeare in talent, and equal in genius, but whose legacy is radically different. This imaginary woman never writes a word and dies by her own hand, her genius unexpressed. If only she had found the means to create, argues Woolf, she would have reached the same heights as her immortal sibling.
In this classic essay, Woolf takes on the establishment, using her gift of language to dissect the world around her and give voice to those who are without.
Frustrating. Empowering. Motivating. More than just an essay, this is one of the most important writings on women in society.
And another example of timeless writing – still as pertinent today as it was when she wrote it in the 1920s.
Woolf’s message is simple: women must have a fixed income and a room of their own in order to have the freedom to create. In modern terms if you like, women need their own space and financial independence to be able to create.
She discusses how Jane Austen uniquely wrote in the female voice – as opposed to the male voice – recognising that women of the time hadn’t had the same experiences and exposures as men to influence their perceptions, world views and language style.
I wish I had read this earlier.
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
“Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”