A Room of one's own, by Virginia Woolf contains a brilliant and perspicatious critique of society's oppression of women writers, her essays about English women writers, many of whom were unrecognized and forgotten, began the process of recovery of women's literature which has waited for the modern women's movement to reach fruition.
A Room of one's own began as two lectures given byVirginia Woolf in Cambridge, in October 1928, under the general heading 'Women and Fiction'. One was addressed to the Arts Society at Newnham College, the other to a society known as Odtaa at Girton College. Both were women's colleges. Although it was written over sixty years ago, A Room of one's own remains a controversial text.It is filled with ideas and argumentsthat are still alive today.
VirginiaWoolf says that she is asked to speak about women and fiction. According to her the title women and fiction might mean women and what they are like; or it might havemeantit to mean, women and the fiction that they write; or it might mean women and the fiction that is written aboutthem; orit might mean that somehow all three are inexitricably mixed together and that they want her to consider them in that light. A woman must have money and a room ofher own if she is to write fiction; and that leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.
Women and fiction remain, so far as she is concerned, unsolved problems. In this work she shows how she arrived at this opinion about the room and the money. She develops a train of thought which led her to think this. At any rate, when a subject is highly controversial- and any question about sex is that- one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only showhow one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one's audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncracies of the speaker.Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact.
No course of women's studies is considered complete without using one of her essays, and no course in twentieth century literature can omit assigning one of her novels. Woolf was a major voice in this century and her work continues to be studied for its substance and for itsexample.