Book Review: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

When do the best works of art emerge, and what factors contribute to them? This is the central question that led Virginia Woolf to write A Room of One’s Own, a classic in the canon of feminist literature.

The main points of her essays explore the interplay of gender, social status, and career success. You will understand the structural obstacles that prevent women artists from reaching their full potential in society.

You will also learn how some women have succeeded in overcoming these barriers and how communities can work to give more women a voice in the future.

That said, you may be wondering if you should read the book. This book review will tell you what important lessons you can learn from this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.

At the end of this book review, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing

Without further ado, let’s get started. 

Lesson 1: Men tend to use their authority to promote themselves and devalue women.

Visit the British Library and take a walk through history. This historic building houses numerous volumes, pamphlets, directories and encyclopedias. Surely, all the important information is contained in this huge compilation. Thus, Woolf began her investigation into why women and men were treated differently in society at that time.

As the writer browsed the bookshelves, she noticed an unusual discrepancy. There were literally thousands of books for women in the library. There were books published on their genetics, personality traits, psychology, and background, and all of them were written by men. Strangely, however, there were no female authors who ever wrote a book specifically about men.

It seems that in the Western way of thinking, women are never the ones who judge, but always the ones who are judged.

Visit the British Library and stroll down the street. Countless books, pamphlets, directories and encyclopedias are stored in the vaults of this venerable institution. Surely the most important information has been gathered in this vast work. It was here that Woolf began her investigation into the unequal treatment of men and women in society.

While browsing the shelves, the writer noticed a strange discrepancy. There were literally thousands upon thousands of books for women in the library’s collection. There were books published on the physiology, behavior, psychology, and history of women, and all of them were written by men. Strangely, however, there were no female authors who ever wrote a book specifically about men.

It seems that in the Western way of thinking, women are never the ones who judge, but always the ones who are condemned.

Get The Book Here

Lesson 2: Women who are naturally talented have at all times been discouraged by society.

The plays of Shakespeare are incredible works of art. Every scene and monologue in these classic works seems to have appeared out of nowhere, so fluid and poetic is the language used.

However, Shakespeare was not the only successful writer of his time. Men in Elizabethan England wrote some of the best poetry, drama, and music ever written. Women’s voices, on the other hand, were rarely heard during this time.

So why is there such a discrepancy? Did women simply not have that innate creative urge that seemed to be so pronounced in men? Not at all! Yet they were limited in what they could do. Their genius could not flourish when they had the same opportunities to learn and advance.

If you look at the timelines of real life and fiction, you will notice a strange gap. Despite their weaknesses, the literary canon is full of strong female protagonists. Heroines abound throughout history, from Antigone and other ancient Greek women to Lady Macbeth and Anna Karenina, two of the most famous female protagonists in Shakespeare and the nineteenth-century novel. The female perspective is underrepresented in traditional historiography.

The question arises, then, as to why women are so highly valued in the arts but marginalised in everyday life. For one thing, women have not historically enjoyed the same degree of independence as men. Even in the relatively modern era of Elizabethan England, women received very little formal education. Instead, they were forced into early marriages where they were expected to raise the children and take care of the household. When you have so little power, it’s difficult to write.

This idea was further explored by Woolf when she devised the character of Judith, Shakespeare’s gifted younger sister. Imagine what kind of life she might have had. In addition to domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning, she would have had to teach herself to read and write. In any case, she would have created her works in secret.

Her father would have hated her devoting herself to art. She would have had to abandon her family and friends to pursue her dreams, which was extremely unlikely for a young woman in the sixteenth century.

Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the invented Judith Shakespeare would have been successful. Many other talented women who actually existed were similarly silenced. It is not surprising that many suffered mental anguish or even committed suicide under these conditions.

More importantly, talented young women had few role models to look up to because so few women were successful as artists. This is a shame, because there could have been so many great works of art that were nipped in the bud.

Get The Book Here

Lesson 3: Unfortunately, societal norms continue to limit even the most successful women writers.

Meet Lady Winchilsea. Born into a noble family in 1661, Winchilsea was one of the few seventeenth-century women with the education and means to devote her life entirely to writing poetry. Unfortunately, her enthusiasm was not taken seriously.

There was disagreement in the lady’s wealthy circles about her unusual pastime. She was thought to be strange and depressed because she spent so much time alone at her desk. She was bitter about the hostility she faced and the social exclusion she endured. In one poem, she wrote of her difficulties, “My lines reviled, and my occupation thought a useless folly or a presumptuous mistake.”

Lady Winchilsea clearly felt constrained in her creativity, despite her status and means. Women writers are finally being taken seriously, but social factors still influence what they write.

Lady Winchilsea was neither the first nor the last woman to write imaginatively. While she was venting her frustrations in verse, another writer was paving the way for success for female authors. Aphra Behn was the name of this fascinating woman. Somehow, Behn managed to make a living as a playwright and novelist. With her unprecedented achievement, she proved that women could make money from writing and that money could buy respect.

To encourage more women to take up writing as a career, Behn served as a role model. Women writers such as Jane Austen, George Eliot, and the Bront sisters were able to devote themselves entirely to creating literary masterpieces in the nineteenth century.

Of course, it helped that these literary giants all shared similar characteristics. They all benefited from having relatively secure economic backgrounds during their formative years. None of them had to worry about providing for the children of others, which is a pretty big deal. Eliot, like the Bronts, used a male pseudonym when she wrote; Mary Ann Evans was her real name.

Still, did the outside world have an impact on her efforts? That goes without saying. All of these ladies are novelists. Woolf found that this style enabled her to write even when interrupted by chores and other obligations. It is clear that Emily Bront preferred poetry and Eliot preferred story, but both ultimately had more success with literary fiction.

The context in which they lived also affected their creativity. Men of the time were free to travel and explore the world. Writers like Tolstoy drew inspiration from their exciting experiences. Men had more freedom, while women were restricted.

Therefore, their books had to focus on everyday life and mundane topics. Of course, they managed to make even these everyday topics interesting, but imagine what they could have accomplished with a little more latitude.

Get The Book Here

Lesson 4: Modern women can make literary strides in fiction.

Let’s leave the early 20th century behind and jump straight to the present. Just take a look at a modern bookshelf, you’ll be impressed. Books written by women can be found in equal numbers to those written by men.

Even better, they cover a wide variety of topics. Gertrude Bell’s account of Persian history is included, as are Vernon Lee’s writings on art and aesthetics and Jane Harrison’s work on Greek archaeology. There’s also a wealth of fictional works, including romance novels, fantasies, and realistic novels.

What conclusions can we draw about women’s writing during this period? Okay, I think we’ll have to try that out. Let’s just pick a book and look inside. Life’s Adventure by Mary Carmichael seems like a good book.

In Woolf’s opinion, to read fiction, one must view each piece as the latest chapter in a larger literary canon. Mary Carmichael’s first novel prompted her to draw parallels to other works by the author. Viewed in this context, Life’s Adventure offers some unique perspectives. First of all, Carmichael’s prose is much snappier and more concise compared to authors such as Jane Austen or Charlotte Bront. This conscious aesthetic choice, however, is only the beginning.

When Woolf read the sentence “Chloe liked Olivia,” she was immediately struck by its depth. In the past, representations of female friendships were rarely nuanced or positive. In the past, female characters were portrayed as antagonistic to each other or understood only in relation to male characters. Carmichael was already venturing into new literary territory by focusing on a professional partnership between two women.

It’s also worth mentioning that Chloe and Olivia aren’t only friends, but also colleagues. As scientists, they work together in an office environment.

Once again, Carmichael ventured into uncharted waters. Women’s literature in the modern era went beyond the perfumed drawing rooms of privileged protagonists. Women’s literature now covered a wider range of subjects and occupations than ever before, from factory worker to courtesan, and it did so with more nuance and specificity than its male counterpart.

And that wasn’t all there was to discover! One advantage was that women could point their pens directly at their male counterparts. Since no one can see inside another person’s head, it’s also difficult for men to write an honest self-representation.

Woolf believed that if women could put aside their hostility toward men to carefully trace male characters, they’d create works that offered startling new insights into the opposite sex.

About The Author

Virginia Woolf was born in 1882, the daughter of a literary critic and a publisher. After the death of her mother (1895) and stepsister Stella (1897), she experienced traumatic adolescence and was marked by breakdowns for the rest of her life. She fell into the circle of Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry, and other artists and writers who became known as the Bloomsbury Group.

There she met Leonard Woolf, whom she married in 1912; the couple had a child and founded the Hogarth Press in 1917. Her major works, which began with The Voyage Out (1915) and continued with Mrs. Dalloway (1925), the historical fantasy Orlando (1928), The Waves (1931), and Between the Acts (1935), are all celebrated classics (1941).

Woolf led an active life, traveling back and forth between London and the Sussex Downs to write reviews and other works. After a nervous breakdown, she drowned herself in 1941.

How To Get Rich By Reading and Writing?

You must be an avid reader who is hungry for knowledge if you are reading this book review. Have you thought about making money using your reading and writing skills?

Thanks to the Internet, the world has undergone a massive change in recent years. Blogging has now become the best way to make money online.

Since no tech experience is required, as long as you’re good at writing, you can easily start a blog that generates cash flow for you while you sleep. 

Warren Buffet said, “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

Instead of looking for a 9-5 job and staying in your comfort zone, it’s better if you become your own boss as soon as possible.

Find out how to build a blog and become a wealthy blogger today!

Recommendation: Make Passive Income Online

Leave a Comment

COVID-19 Took My Waiter Job, Then I Made 5-Figures From Home...Discover How I Did It!