Non-fiction: A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas

A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas  by Virginia Woolf

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5 out of 5 stars

This little book contains two long essays written by Virginia Woolf. They present the incredible mind of the author, her opinions and the world she was living in. Woolf wrote in a beautiful but simple style, touching on subjects that were important for her contemporaries but also the modern audience. She writes on the contemporary situation of women, their education and possibility of following a professional career, literature (mainly written by women), war and peace.

The first part, A Room of One’s Own, is Woolf’s exploration of the history of literature written by women. She focuses on the obstacles that rendered a writing career almost impossible for female candidates. From economic reasons to social roles and prejudice, she believed that many impediments caused mental stress that did not allow even the most successful female writers like Charlotte Bronte to reach their full potential. She used the exciting but fictional example of Shakespeare’s sister, existing only in her imagination, which could be as talented as her brother, but completely controlled by the patriarchal society. The contemporary status of women would not allow them to develop their skills.

Woolf believed the independent economic income and a separate room dedicated to a woman writer was the minimum necessary for developing an exceptional literary career. What we now consider a necessity used to be a luxury that most of the women were not able to obtain. Their lives depended on their patriarchs, fathers or husbands, as they were not allowed to hold property. Their day-to-day experience was full of self-sacrifices, as they were expected to be humble, docile and attentive to the needs of their family. In those circumstances, there was no space for the selfish act of writing.

Unfortunately, I haven’t read Three Guineas yet. From what I know, it seems to be a fascinating essay about pacifism and ways of preventing war. It also touches on the education of women and their professional life. At the time, the public and political spheres were opening for women, who used to be restricted to the domestic sphere during the Victorian era. It is one of the essays I hope to read really soon.

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