A Room of One's Own  

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"I have told you the very low opinion in which you [women] were held by Mr Oscar Browning. I have indicated what Napoleon once thought of you and what Mussolini thinks now. Then, in case any of you aspire to fiction, I have copied out for your benefit the advice of the critic about courageously acknowledging the limitations of your sex. I have referred to Professor X and given prominence to his statement that women are intellectually, morally and physically inferior to men . . . and here is a final warning . . . Mr John Langdon Davies warns women "that when children cease to be altogether desirable, women cease to be altogether necessary." I hope you will make note of it. --Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1929)


"... Shakespeare had a sister; but do not look for her in Sir Sidney Lee’s life of the poet. She died young —alas, she never wrote a word.... Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the crossroads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing pres­ences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. This opportunity, as I think, it is now coming within your power to give her. For my belief is that if we live another century or so—I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals —and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of free­dom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting-room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality... if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality . . . then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. As for her coming without that preparation, without that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born again she shall find it pos­sible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would be impos­sible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth­ while." Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1929)

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A Room of One's Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published on 24 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 non-fiction. The essay is generally 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.

Contents

Adaptations

It was adapted as a play by Patrick Garland who also directed Eileen Atkins in its stage performance. The television adaptation directed by Patrick Garland was broadcast on PBS Masterpiece Theatre in 1991.

Cultural references

Feminist and LGBT bookstore A Room of One's Own in Madison, Wisconsin was named after Woolf's essay. Canadian literary journal showcasing the work of women writers and visual artists, Room of One's Own, now Room, was also named for Woolf's essay.

See also

Full text[1]

Preface to the Edition


All but the first two of the books that Virginia Woolf wrote for publi¬ cation during her lifetime were originally published by The Hogarth Press which she and Leonard Woolf founded. Why then do we need any more editions of all these works? There are two main reasons. First, the original English and American editions of her books, pub¬ lished in the majority of cases at the same time, often vary from each other because Virginia Woolf made different changes in them before they were printed. Secondly, many of the references or allusions in these works, which were written more than two generations ago now, have become increasingly obscure for contemporary readers.

The purpose of The Shakespeare Head Press Edition is to present reliable texts, complete with alternative readings and explanatory notes, of all the books she herself published or intended to publish, not just her novels. Only her collections of stories and essays have been omitted. These have been included in The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf, edited by Susan Dick, and The Essays of Virginia Woolf, edited by Andrew McNeillie and Stuart N. Clarke. Also excluded from The Shakespeare Head Press Edition are Virginia Woolf’s letters and diaries, which have already been edited.

In the selection of texts, the edition is the first to take into account variants between the first English and the first American editions of Woolf’s works, as well as variants found in surviving proofs. Each text has been chosen after a computer-collation of the first editions. Where relevant, the proofs have also been collated. Parts of works published separately (such as the earlier version of the ‘Time Passes’ section of To the Lighthouse) have been included in appendices along with other relevant documents (such as Woolf’s introduction to Mrs Dalloway).


iii


Each text has an introduction giving the circumstances of the work’s composition, publication and reception, followed by a note on the text selected. Annotations, variants and emendations are included at the end of each volume. In the interests of pleasure in reading, the texts of the works are free of superscript numbers, asterisks, editorial brackets or other interventions.

‘So there are to be new editions of Jane Austen and the Brontes and George Meredith,’ Virginia Woolf wrote in her 1922 essay ‘On Re-reading Novels’. ‘Left on trains, forgotten in lodging-houses, thumbed and tattered to destruction, the old have served their day...’ It is our hope that The Shakespeare Head Press Edition of Virginia Woolf will inspire, as Woolf predicted those earlier editions of the writers she admired and re-read would do, both ‘new readings and new friends’.


IV


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


VIRGINIA WOOLF


Edited by

David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke


Wiley Blackwell


This edition first published 2015

Editorial material and organization © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Edition history: main text originally published by The Hogarth Press (1929)

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Pnblication Data Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941.

A room of one’s own / Virginia Woolf ; edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke.

pages ; cm

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN 978-1-118-29876-3 (hardcover)

1. Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941-Authorship. 2. Literature-Women authors-History

and criticism-Theory, etc. 3. Women and literature-Great Britain. 4. Women authors- Economic conditions. 5. Women authors-Social conditions. 6. Authorship-Sex differences. I. Bradshaw, David, 1955- II. Clarke, Stuart Nelson. III. Title. PR6045.O72Z474 2015 824'.912-dc23

2014025097

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Cover design by Workhaus

Set in 10.5/12.5pt Sabon by SPi Publisher Services, Pondicherry, India


1 2015


Contents


Acknowledgements viii

Abbreviations ix

Frontispiece: the dust-jacket for the first English edition xi

Introduction xii

A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN 1

Notes 83

Appendix: Textual Variants and Emendations 125


vii


Acknowledgements


Rupert Richard Arrowsmith; Ros Ballaster; Stephen Barkway; Alexandra G. Bennett; Clare Copeland; Stephanie Clarke, Archivist & Records Manager, British Museum; Isaac Gewirtz and Mark Hussey (on behalf of Woolf Studies Annual) for permission to incorporate Dr Gewirtz’s work on the uncorrected proof copy of A Room of One’s Own-, Emily Kopley; National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division; The Random House Group Ltd for permission to quote from the Random House Group archives at the University of Reading; The Society of Authors, on behalf of the estate of Leonard Woolf; University of Reading, Department of Special Collections; University of Sussex Library, Department of Special Collections; Sheila M. Wilkinson. Our additional thanks to Stephen Barkway for supplying us with the photograph used as the frontispiece for this edition.


David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke


Abbreviations


All references to Woolf’s novels and other books are keyed to The Shakespeare Head Press Edition or to the first edition of the text in question.


The following abbreviations have been used in the Introduction and Notes:


CH Virginia Woolf: The Critical Heritage, ed. Robin Majumdar and Allen McLaurin (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975; rep. 1997).

DI-V The Diary of Virginia Woolf, ed. Anne Olivier Bell, assisted by Andrew McNeillie, 5 vols (London: Hogarth Press, 1977-84).

EI-VI The Essays of Virginia Woolf, ed. Andrew McNeillie and Stuart N. Clarke, 6 vols (London: Hogarth Press, 1986-2011).

LI-VI The Letters of Virginia Woolf, ed. Nigel Nicolson and Joanne

Trautmann, 6 vols (London: Hogarth Press, 1975-80).

JR Jacob’s Room

LE Ben Weinreb, Christopher Hibbert, Julia Keay and John

Keay, The London Encyclopedia, 3rd edn (London, Basingstoke and Oxford: Macmillan, 2008).

MB Moments of Being, ed. Jeanne Schulkind (London: Pimlico,

2002 ).

MD Mrs. Dalloivay


Abbreviations


O Orlando: A Biography

OBEV The Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900 , chosen and edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900).

PA A Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals and ‘Carlyle’s House and Other Sketches', ed. Mitchell A. Leaska (London: Pimlico, 2004).

Stephen Barbara Stephen, Emily Davies and Girton College (London:

Constable, 1927).

TG Three Guineas

TL To the Lighthouse

VO The Voyage Out

W The Waves

W&F Virginia Woolf, Women & Fiction: The Manuscript Versions of A Room of One’s Own’, transcribed and edited by S. P. Rosenbaum (Oxford: Blackwell, for The Shakespeare Head Press, 1992).

Y The Years


x


Is


aroomn

of onts own


V/irg inia


The dust-jacket for the first English edition, designed by Vanessa Bell.





Introduction


1

A Room of One’s Own is Virginia Woolf’s riposte to those who took the intellectual and artistic inferiority of women for granted. Her frustration with such entrenched prejudice had been gathering steam for a number of years. Following the publication of Arnold Bennett’s Our Women in September 1920, for example, Woolf noted in her diary that she had been ‘making up a paper upon Women, as a counterblast to Mr Bennett’s adverse views reported in the papers’. 1 If Woolf’s 1920 ‘paper’ ever reached the page it has not survived, but it is worth quoting at length from Bennett’s fourth chapter, rhetorically entitled ‘Are Men Superior to Women?’, which argues points - and above all represents the kind of patriarchal mindset - that A Room would eventually challenge:

the truth is that intellectually and creatively man is the superior of woman, and that in the region of creative intellect there are things which men almost habitually do but which women have not done and give practically no sign of ever being able to do.

Some platitudes must now be uttered. The literature of the world can show at least fifty male poets greater than any woman poet. Indeed, the women poets who have reached even second rank are exceedingly few - perhaps not more than half a dozen. With the possible exception of Emily Bronte no woman novelist has yet produced a novel to equal the great novels of men. (One may be enthusiastic for Jane Austen with¬ out putting Pride and Prejudice in the same category with Anna Karenina or The Woodlanders.) No woman at all has achieved either painting or sculpture that is better than second-rate, or music that is better than second-rate. Nor has any woman come anywhere near the top in criticism. Can anybody name a celebrated woman philosopher;

xii


Introduction


or a woman who has made a first-rate scientific discovery; or a woman who has arrived at a first-rate generalisation of any sort?

The stereotyped reply to these regrettable platitudes is that only lately have women ‘had a chance,’ and that when the fruits of education and liberty have ripened women will rival men in all branches of creative and intellectual activity. Such a reply -1 say it with trembling - is the reply of a partisan. For ages women have had every opportunity that education can furnish to shine creatively in painting and in music. Thousands of women give half their lives to painting in conditions exactly similar to the conditions for males. The musical institutes are packed with women who study exactly as men study. What result in creation is visible? As for fiction, women have long specialised in it. Probably there are more women novelists than men to-day. But no modern woman-novelist has yet cut a world-figure. Innumerable women have had the leisure and the liberty and the apparatus to become philosophers, but the world has not discovered a woman- philosopher whom it could honestly place hundredth after the first ninety-nine philosophers of the other sex.

I admit that in scientific discovery, which is comparatively a new field, women ought not yet to be judged, but since the same qualities of creative imagination and intellectual power are needed here as in the other fields cited, I do not anticipate in science a greater measure of distinction for women.

In creation, in synthesis, in criticism, in pure intellect women, even the most exceptional and the most favoured, have never approached the accomplishment of men. It is not a question of a slight difference, as for example the difference between the relative proportionate sizes of the male and the female brain - it is a question of an overwhelming and constitutional difference, a difference which stupendously remains after every allowance has been made for inequality of opportunity. Therefore I am inclined to think that no amount of education and liberty of action will sensibly alter it. 2

A number of Bennett’s observations were quoted with approval by ‘Affable Hawk’ (Woolf’s friend Desmond MacCarthy) in his ‘Books in General’ column in the New Statesman at the beginning of October 1920, 3 and Woolf wrote to the New Statesman on two occasions in response. 4 ‘It seems to me’, she comments in her second letter, following MacCarthy’s attempted rebuttal of her argument, ‘that the conditions which make it possible for a Shakespeare to exist are that he shall have had predecessors in his art, shall make one of a group where art is freely discussed and practised, and shall himself have the utmost of freedom and action and experience’. 5 Woolf points out that such conditions have not existed for women and concludes that ‘the degradation of being a slave is only equalled by the degradation of being a master’. 6

xiii


Introduction


Woolf’s relationship with MacCarthy was often fraught and it is far from clear that her arguments made any impression on him. In his review of A Room (Sunday Times, 26 January 1930), for example, MacCarthy declared, somewhat enigmatically, that Woolf’s restrained polemic ‘is feminist propaganda, yet it resembles an almond-tree in blossom’. 7 ‘It was a great delight to read your article’, Woolf told him in an equally poised letter of the following day. ‘I never thought you would like that book - and perhaps you didn’t: but anyway you man¬ aged to write a most charming article, which gave me a great and unexpected pleasure.’ 8


2

There are some unresolved mysteries about the immediate origins of A Room of One’s Own. Probably early in January 1928, Woolf received a letter from Irene Biss asking her to talk to the ODTAA (standing for One Damn Thing After Another) club at Girton College, Cambridge. Yet at Thomas Hardy’s funeral on 16 January, Woolf was thinking about ‘a lecture to the Newnhamites about women’s writ¬ ing’. 9 So it could be that representatives from both colleges had ‘asked [her] to speak about women and fiction’ (p. 3). Woolf replied to Biss on 29 January that she would come in October. However, she wrote again on 12 February to say that she had agreed to speak at Newnham College on 12 May, and asked whether she could come on 19 May. 10 On 18 February she recorded that her mind was ‘woolgathering away about Women & Fiction’. 11 In the event, she had to postpone her vis¬ its until October after all.

On Saturday 20 October, a little over a week after the publication of Orlando, Woolf drove to Cambridge with her husband Leonard, her sister Vanessa Bell and her niece Angelica to deliver her paper to the Arts Society at Newnham. 12 They stayed with Pernel Strachey, Principal of Newnham. Elsie Elizabeth Phare (later Duncan-Jones), the secretary of the Society, recalled that:

The visit of Miss Strachey’s close friend, Virginia Woolf, in 1929 [i.e. 1928] to read us a paper was a rather alarming occasion. As 1 remember it she was nearly an hour late; and dinner in Clough Hall, never a repast for gourmets, suffered considerably. Mrs Woolf also disconcerted us by bringing a husband and so upsetting our seating plan. 13

Clough Hall, with windows ‘curved like ships’ windows among generous waves of red brick’ (p. 13), was then cleared of the remnants of the meal and set up for Woolf’s talk; no doubt some of the students,


xtv


Introduction


who were not members of the Arts Society, disappeared at this point. Perhaps Woolf retired to the Principal’s room for coffee while this was going on, for, while Phare remembered that ‘After the paper there was coffee with Mrs Woolf in the Principal’s rooms’, 14 U. K. N. Carter (later Stevenson) felt sure that ‘the post-address coffee and biscuits were distributed in my room, because it was a fairly large one’. 15 Woolf had an audience of about two hundred, but the acoustics were poor and at least one student fell asleep. 16

While the Woolfs were guests of Pernel Strachey overnight, the Bells stayed in a hotel. The following day, Woolf and her party had lunch in the rooms of George Rylands in King’s College with him, Lytton Strachey and John Maynard Keynes. 17

The following week, Woolf travelled to Cambridge again, this time by train accompanied by Vita Sackville-West, to speak to the ODTAA at Girton on the evening of 26 October 1928. She visited her nephew, Julian Bell, in the afternoon, writing in her diary the following day: ‘Why should all the splendour, all the luxury of life be lavished on the Julians & the Francises, & none on the Phares & the Thomases? There’s Julian not much relishing it, perhaps.’ 18

Since the talks Woolf gave at Cambridge have not survived, it is not clear whether they were the same, as stated in the manuscript, 19 or two different papers, as printed in the published editions of A Room. In either case, two questions are raised: what was the content of the paper or papers and were Woolf’s talks suitable for her audiences? There are various reports by those who heard Woolf speak, but very few are contemporaneous. Woolf herself only wrote: ‘I blandly told them [at Girton] to drink wine & have a room of their own.’ 20 Elsie Phare reported on Woolf’s talk in the Michaelmas Term number of Thersites, a Newnham College magazine:

Mrs Virginia Woolf visited us on Saturday, Oct. 20th, and spoke in College Hall on ‘Women and Fiction’. The reasons why women novelists were for so long so few were largely a question of domestic architecture: it was not, and it is not easy to compose in a parlour. Now that women are writing (and Mrs Woolf exhorted her audience to write novels and send them to be considered by the Hogarth Press) they should not try to adapt themselves to the prevailing literary standards, which are likely to be masculine, but make others of their own; they should remake the language, so that it becomes a more fluid thing and capable of delicate usage.

It was a characteristic and delightful lecture and we are most grateful to Mrs Woolf for coming to us, as well as to Miss Strachey for consent¬ ing to preside over the meeting. 21


xv


Introduction


Woolf’s comment suggests an early draft of Chapter I, while Phare’s ‘sum¬ mary . . . anticipates] the arguments Woolf develops in chapter four’. 22 Over fifty years later, Phare wrote: ‘All I remember now of her talk is that she praised very highly a poem of Stella Gibbons’s, “The Hippogriff”.’ 23 This seems likely, for the poem had appeared in the Criterion in September 1927, 24 and Woolf later wrote: ‘I remember Stella Gibbons writing a poem we liked, and so asked her to send us some to print’. 25

The ODTAA at Girton was a select, closed society with restricted membership. While Woolf’s talk at Newnham was delivered in a large hall, at Girton it was held in the small Reception Room (with wall panels embroidered between 1900 and 1920 by Julia, Lady Carew) near the Stanley Library. Having returned to London from speaking at Girton, Woolf described her audience as ‘Starved but valiant young women . . . Intelligent, eager, poor; & destined to become schoolmis¬ tresses in shoals’. 26 If she was actually thinking of the Girton students, then she misjudged her audience. Kathleen Raine, Muriel Bradbrook and Queenie Roth (Q. D. Leavis), who were in the audience that even¬ ing, went on to distinguished academic careers. Later, all three recorded their somewhat disparaging responses to Woolf’s talk, though it is pos¬ sible they may have conflated their recollections of the talk with then- attitudes to her book.

Woolf noted in her diary on 7 November 1928 that ‘Orlando was the outcome of a perfectly definite, indeed overmastering impulse. I want fun. I want fantasy. I want (& this was serious) to give things their caricature value. And still this mood hangs about me. I want to write a history, say of Newnham or the womans movement, in the same vein. The vein is deep in me - at least sparkling, urgent.’ 27 On 28 November she merely noted that she was writing about women, and in March 1929 the New York Forum published her essay ‘Women and Fiction’. 28 According to S. P. Rosenbaum, this essay ‘is probably as close as we can now come to what Virginia Woolf said at Cambridge’, 29 but he also notes that it does not have many of the features found in A Room or in contemporary accounts of Woolf’s visits to the wom¬ en’s colleges. While ‘probably as close as we can now come’ may be literally correct, the lecture or lectures are likely to have been quite different. It is worth comparing the different versions of her essay ‘How Should One Read a Book?’ - which began life as a talk to a girls’ school, became an essay in the Yale Review, re-surfaced as a preface to a booklist, and was finally published as the concluding essay of The Common Reader: Second Series 30 - to see how Woolf tried to adjust and reconfigure her material with her different audi¬ ences in mind. Indeed, we may wish to adapt Beth Rigel Daugherty’s


xvi


Introduction


remark about the essay in the Yale Review to ‘Women and Fiction’ in the Forum: the ‘audience ... was distant - new ... American, unknown, academic - and the resulting essay seems cold, vague, and abstract’. 31

In 1992, Rosenbaum published the manuscript draft of A Room of One’s Own that he discovered in the library of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, together with a section held in the Monks House Papers, University of Sussex. 32 This draft Woolf called ‘Women & Fiction’ and she wrote it in about a month, probably from late February until 2 April 1929, after a six-week ‘creative illness’ earlier in the year. 33 She revised the draft, publishing it as A Room of One’s Own.


3

Reception

A Room was published in England by the Hogarth Press on 24 October 1929 in a pale pink dust-jacket printed in blue, designed by Vanessa Bell and incorporating a clock whose hands show ten to two, forming a ‘V’. Woolf had written to her sister on about 20 August: ‘I thought your cover most attractive - but what a stir you’ll cause by the hands of the clock at that precise hour! People will say - but there’s no room’. 34 Harcourt, Brace & Co. published the book in the United States on the same day. A signed, limited edition of 492 copies was published simulta¬ neously in England by the Hogarth Press and in the United States by the Fountain Press. The blurb on the Hogarth Press dust-jacket is likely to have been written by Woolf:

This essay, which is largely fictitious, is based upon the visit of an outsider to a university and expresses the thoughts suggested by a comparison between the different standards of luxury at a man’s college and at a woman’s. This leads to a sketch of women’s circumstances in the past, and the effect of those circumstances upon their writing. The conditions that are favourable to imaginative work are discussed, including the right relation of the sexes. Finally an attempt is made to outline the present state of affairs and to forecast what effect compara¬ tive freedom and independence will have upon women’s artistic work in the future. 35

Woolf wrote in her diary on the eve of publication:

It is a little ominous that Morgan [E. M. Forster] won’t review it. It makes me suspect that there is a shrill feminine tone in it which my

xvii


Introduction


intimate friends will dislike. I forecast, then, that I shall get no criti¬ cism, except of the evasive jocular kind, from Lytton [Strachey], Roger [Fry] & Morgan; that the press will be kind & talk of its charm, & spright[l]iness; also I shall be attacked for a feminist & hinted at for a sapphist; Sibyl [Colefax] will ask me to luncheon;

I shall get a good many letters from young women. I am afraid it will not be taken seriously. Mrs Woolf is so accomplished a writer that all she says makes easy reading . . . this very feminine logic . . . a book to be put in the hands of girls. 36

The reviews, in fact, were almost universally favourable. No reviewer ‘hinted at [her] for a sapphist’, but Woolf’s other predictions were fairly accurate. 37 The Times Literary Supplement referred to this ‘delightfully peripatetic essay’ that ‘glances in a spirited and good-tempered way over conflicts old and new’, 38 while Vita Sackville-West reassured her listeners on the radio and her readers in the Listener that ‘Mrs Woolf is too sensible to be a thorough-going feminist’. 39 ‘I’m delighted you read my little book, as you call it, dear Mrs Nick:’, Woolf had written to Sackville-West a fortnight earlier, ‘but although you don’t perceive it, there is much reflection and some erudition in it: the butterfly begins by being a loathsome legless grub. Or don’t you find it convincing?’ 40 The day after Sackville-West’s radio broadcast, however, Woolf wrote to her: ‘I thought your voice, saying Virginia Woolf, was a trumpet call, moving me to tears; but I daresay you were suppressing laughter. It’s an odd feeling, hearing oneself praised to 50 million old ladies in Surbiton by one with whom one has watched the dawn and heard the nightin¬ gale.’ 41 ‘I’m so glad you thought it good tempered,’ she told another close friend, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, ‘ - my blood is apt to boil on this one subject as yours does about natives, or war; and I didn’t want it to. I wanted to encourage the young women - they seem to get fearfully depressed - and also to induce discussion.’ 42

Arnold Bennett’s tepid review gave with the one hand and took with the other. He asserted that ‘she can write’, and then criticised her grammar; he disputed her thesis (‘it is necessary to have five hundred a year and a room with a lock on the door if you are to write fiction or poetry’, p. 76) and complained that ‘she talks about everything but the thesis. If her mind was not what it is I should accuse her of wholesale padding. She is not consciously guilty of padding. She is merely the victim of her extraordinary gift of fancy (not imagination).’ 43 J. C. Squire’s long review in the Observer, by contrast, described A Room as ‘full of incidental wisdom . .. written with great grace and an unobtrusive imagery and its prime merit is its utterly candid statement of an intellectual woman’s point of

xviii


Introduction


view’. He concluded that ‘it is like a breath of fresh air simply because she has discovered precisely what she thinks, says it frankly, wittily, and charmingly, and has no axe to grind but the general cause of a fuller life for women who want it’. 44 The Empire Review began with praise (the book ‘discusses the writing of women with admirable humour and independence’), referred to its charm, remarked that if Woolf ‘had not devoted her time to fiction, she could have made a name for herself as an essayist and critic’, and ended with a belittling sting in its tail: ‘Her short book might be read by all the young women who are invited by editors to deluge the popular press with chatter and smatter’. 45

Peter Quennell, in Life and Letters, called A Room ‘a long controver¬ sial pamphlet’ and argued that it ‘shows her as the irritated champion of women’s intellectual rights .. . Happening to glance into the middle of her essay, the reviewer was horrified to see quoted there, amid acid com¬ mentary, a sentence, part of an anonymous criticism, which he remem¬ bers having contributed last year to the columns of Life and Letters':

It expressed a belief that ‘female novelists should only aspire to excel¬ lence by courageously acknowledging the limitations of their sex’. Is it credible, Mrs. Woolf exclaims, that this perverse and obscurantist dogma can belong, not to the opinions of 1828, but to opinions still current and, even to-day, presumptuously emitted? It is an echo of‘that persistent voice, now grumbling, now patronising, now domineering, now grieved, now shocked, now avuncular’, whose idiotic admonitions and unwanted counsels keep buzzing in the female novelist’s ears. And yet, curiously enough, my unhappy sentence was inspired by a whole¬ hearted admiration of Mrs. Woolf! 46

Time and Tide did more than just review A Room. Theodora Bosanquet’s appreciation of 15 November 1929 was succeeded in the following two issues with excerpts from the book’s first chapter. Bosanquet imagined Woolf being ‘heard by rows, or is it circles, of listening, spellbound, won¬ dering students who still murmur to each other, when they meet on lawns or in lecture-halls, about the amazing evening when Virginia Woolf “read a paper’”. 47 A Room continued to be commented on in 1930 and 1931, and Robert Lynd, in his series ‘Letters to Living Authors’, wrote that ‘The book has already been praised as an immortal pamphlet and there are few pamphlets more original in English literature’. The Hogarth Press used this comment in at least one of its advertisements. 48

Louis Kronenberger in the New York Times considered that, ‘in spite of a theme that is pretty self-evident, and conclusions that are not always definitive, this book, the distillation of the crystalline mind, so


xix


Introduction


gaily and freshly and yet forcefully written, says something’. 49 Mary Ross in the New York Herald Tribune compared A Room to Meredith’s ‘Essay on Comedy and Uses of the Comic Spirit’ (1871) and com¬ mented on ‘the bright, oblique, spiralling sentences which, if one has a taste for Virginia Woolf’s writing, become almost intoxicating’. 50 In a short piece in the Yale Review, Elisabeth Woodbridge compared A Room with Wollstonecraft, Mill, Meredith’s ‘Essay on Comedy’ and Vaughn Moody’s ‘The Fire-Bringer’ (amongst others). 51

A brief review in the Spectator anticipated the book’s modern repu¬ tation: ‘Future historians will place Mrs. Woolf’s little book beside Mary Wol[l]stonecraft’s The Rights of Women and John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women. It does for the intellectual and spiritual liberation of women what those works did for their political emanci¬ pation. But A Room of One’s Own outshines them both in genius.’ 52 Gilbert Thomas in the London Bookman made the same favourable comparison with Wollstonecraft and Mill, considered the ‘method of exposition . . . extraordinarily charming and persuasive’, and called A Room ‘a book of pure and sustained inspiration, crystal clear in thought and expression, and presenting a point of view about the nature of women and the relation between the sexes that is ahead of our own time, yet eminently sane and fundamentally traditional as compared with much of the hot-headed nonsense written upon the subject to-day’. 53


4

Despite favourable reviews in the United States, A Room was not a commercial success in that country. Woolf wrote to her American publisher Donald Brace on 28 February 1930: ‘I am glad that you are satisfied with the sales of A Room of One’s Own. It has done a good deal better here than in America. We have sold between 10 and 11 thousand, and generally of course, our sales are much less than yours. But I am not surprised, as I think the subject is more interesting to us than to you.’ 54 Harcourt, Brace had printed 4000 copies and, although they reprinted in November 1929, they only issued 18,640 copies between November 1929 and February 1953. Their first paperback edition appeared in 1963 and was frequently reprinted, initially under the Harbinger imprint and then as a Harvest Book. A new edition with an introduction by Mary Gordon appeared in 1981 and it became then- standard edition for many years. 55


xx


Introduction


Although A Room is barely mentioned in Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1970), 56 Carolyn G. Heilbrun popularised its concept of androgyny in 1973. 57 Androgyny became and remains a controversial topic, but A Room continues to be read in a broader way, as a:

personal essay [in] a fictional form, a self-dramatization of the speaker who is no longer Virginia Woolf but Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael. There are scenic climaxes - the encounter with the Beadle who drove her from the college turf, the contrasting repasts at Oxbridge and Fernham, the scene of the great reading room of the British Museum, where in a parody of ‘research’ she tries to find the true explanation of woman’s status, and the moving narrative digression of Shakespeare’s sister, the poor talented girl who was seduced by Nick Greene and killed herself. We all remember the title phrase, ‘500 pounds and a room of one’s own’ - the conditions she declared necessary for the woman who hopes to be a writer. Her concentration upon material circumstances as the ultimate explanation of woman’s status is striking.... And she sees, by implication, that the special hardships of the girl who wants to write are general handicaps imposed by social inequality upon all women; indeed, upon all economic or social inferiors. 58

A Room is now one of Virginia Woolf’s most read books in the United States. She is, ‘as commentators never stop telling us, young woman’s icon extraordinaire’. 59


5

Normally, Woolf would write the manuscript of her books in the morning and type them up in the afternoons, making corrections and additions as she did so. It is not known whether she followed this procedure for A Room. She did, however, have a typescript profes¬ sionally produced, probably during April and May 1929. She went over this carefully, retyping some pages, particularly near the begin¬ ning and the end, and making holograph corrections to almost every page. 60 It is likely that this version was the one she gave to Leonard Woolf to read on 12 May. 61 This typescript was probably sent in May or June to Harcourt, Brace and Company in New York, so that they could formally agree to publish the book. Donald Brace had appar¬ ently agreed in principle in a letter which reached Woolf in mid-May. 62 Woolf returned the signed agreement to him on 30 June. 63

Meanwhile, Woolf either made further limited corrections to another copy of the typescript or had a further typescript produced,


xxi


Introduction


intending to send it as the setting copy to the Hogarth Press’s printers, R. & R. Clark, Ltd, in Edinburgh. On 15 June, she recorded: ‘I ought to correct A Room of one’s own’; 64 then on 16 June: ‘I cannot go on correcting A Room of one’s own. I have read till my own sentences jingle in my ear’. 65 Finally, on 30 June: ‘I am writing idly, to solace my eyes after two hours of intense correction - that much corrected book, Women & Fiction. It shall go to the printer tomorrow I swear’. 66 An unmarked set of the first proofs survive and has recently been acquired by the Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. The set is date-stamped 10-22 July. It is likely that the proofs were sent in batches to Woolf, as (1) she made substantial alterations to them, and (2) the Hogarth Press wrote to R. & R. Clark on 24 July, returning pages 1-80 revised and asking for the second proofs as soon as possible. 67

It may be that a corrected set of the first proofs had been sent to Brace as the US setting copy. On 4 August, however, Woolf sent him ‘a copy of the revised proofs ... up to page 64’. She continued: ‘I have made some alterations, and I think it would be best to print from these if you can’. 68 These proofs were also used by the Fountain Press of New York, which was to issue the limited edition. On 19 August, Woolf recorded ‘the blessed fact that for good or bad I have just set the last correction to Women & Fiction, or a Room of One’s Own. I shall never read it again I suppose. 69 Good or bad? Has an uneasy life in it I think: you feel the creature arching its back & galloping on, though as usual much is watery & flimsy & pitched in too high a voice’. 70

The book was first published on 21 October 1929 by the Fountain Press in a limited edition of 492 copies signed by Woolf. The limited edition was issued in the United Kingdom on 24 October, the same day as the Hogarth Press and Harcourt, Brace published their stand¬ ard editions. 71 The Fountain Press and Harcourt, Brace used the same typography set by Robert S. Josephy, but, owing to a difference in page size, the Fountain Press edition is forty pages shorter than the Harcourt, Brace edition. The first word of each chapter is set differently (see the Appendix below), and the lines are not always identically set. Josephy also printed the Fountain Press edition, while the Harcourt, Brace was printed by their usual printer of Woolf’s books, Quinn & Boden Company of Rahway, New Jersey.

The Hogarth Press and Harcourt, Brace subsequently reprinted the book as demand in their respective markets warranted. By contrast with the modern popularity of A Room in the United States, its sales there were disappointing: fewer than 23,000 copies were printed up to 1953. On her own side of the Atlantic, there were seven reprints in

xxii


Introduction


Woolf’s lifetime, the last three as part of the Uniform Edition; these totalled 24,543, including the first edition run of 3040 copies. The records 72 of R. & R. Clark show the following printing costs (which include the dust-jackets but not the binding):

1st edition: 3000 copies @ £74 6s. 3d. (including £17 2s. 6d. for alterations and proofs)

2nd impression: 3000 copies @ £27 15s.

3rd impression: 3000 copies @ £27 4s. 6d.

4th impression: 3000 copies @ £27 4s. 6d.

5th and 6th (1st Uniform Edition) impressions: 2500 and 3250 copies @ £45 10s. 8d.

The remaining two impressions for the Uniform Edition were printed by Lowe & Brydone (Printers) Ltd, 101 & 104 Park St, Camden Town, London. Except for the 1935 impression, all the impressions were bound by the Ship Binding Works, 32-38 Great Saffron Hill, London EC1; R. & R. Clark sent their sheets from Edinburgh to London by steamer. The 1935 impression was bound by the Garden City Press in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. Binding was done progres¬ sively as required; for example, the first edition of 3040 copies was bound in two stages of 2000 and 1040. 73

A Room was produced in small octavo size with cinnamon cloth boards and sold at 5s. The Uniform Edition of the ‘Works of Virginia Woolf’ was launched on 26 September 1929, also in small octavo size at 5s., but with jade-green cloth boards and a uniform printed (that is, un-illustrated) blue dust-jacket. The first volumes of The Voyage Out, Jacob’s Room, The Common Reader and Mrs. Dalloway were joined by To the Lighthouse on or about 19 February 1930, and by Night and Day and A Room on 6 November 1930.

Some interesting statistics about the sales of and profits from A Room may be found in one of Leonard Woolf’s notebooks: 74 Sales


Before publication:

1550

1st month:

1559

2nd month:

4464

3rd month:

1485

4th month:

1293

5th month:

999

6th month:

993

1st six months:

12443

2nd six months:

2043


xxiii



Introduction


Cumulative

profit at the end of each year


Year

Ordinary Edition

Uniform Edition

1929

£301 15s. Id.


1930

£844 15s. 9 Vid.

£49 12s. 4Vid.

1931

£851 14s. 7Vid.

£139 2s. Id.

1932

£852 8s. 8 Vid.

£244 5s. 7Vid.

1933

£852 8s. 8 Vid.

£328 17s. 8 d.

1934

£852 8s. 8 d.

£395 13s. 3d.

1935

£852 8s. 8 d.

£392 12s. 6d.

1936

£852 8s. 8 d.

£423 Os. 0 d.

1937

£852 8s. 8 d.

£473 5s. 8 d.


6

The Text of A Room of One’s Own

Woolf seems to have corrected the two sets of the second R. & R. Clark proofs unusually consistently: the one for Hogarth and the other as the setting copy for Harcourt, Brace. Her most sustained effort must have gone into the revision of the first set of proofs. As early as 23 June 1929 she was telling herself: ‘One must correct A Room of one’s own very carefully before printing’; 75 then on 30 June: ‘I must again read my book; with a view, if possible, to shortening & condensing the last pages’. 76 There may have been comparatively few changes to the second set of proofs.

The differences between the US and UK editions are mainly matters of house style. The US editions prefer ‘any one’, ‘some one’, ‘tonight’, ‘today’, ‘re-write/ing’ and ‘judgment/s’, while the UK editions have ‘anyone’, ‘someone’, ‘to-night’, ‘to-day’, ‘rewrite/ing’ and ‘judgement/s’. The US tends to italicise punctuation following italicised titles, even ‘Antony and Cleopatra s” (p. 38), for example. Similarly, the US edi¬ tions tend to place punctuation within quotation marks, while the UK practice usually, but not always, is to place it outside quotation marks.

There are a number of indirect questions in the text that have been punctuated inconsistently in all editions. For example, the UK cor¬ rectly have ‘What were they blaming Charlotte Bronte for? I won¬ dered.’, while the US have ‘. . . for, I wondered?’ (this edition p. 50). However, all editions have ‘which was truth and which was illusion, I asked myself?’ (p. 12).


xxiv


Introduction


On the assumption that Woolf more closely supervised the printing of the first UK edition, the first Hogarth Press edition serves as the copy text for this edition. She would have taken no part in the US production process, once she had sent her set of corrected Hogarth Press page proofs to Harcourt, Brace to use as their copy text. In this present edition, points of departure from the original Hogarth text have been kept to a minimum. We have resisted the temptation to adopt two substantive variants from the US editions, where Lady Winchelsea’s ‘mind was turned to nature and reflection’, rather than ‘tuned’ (p. 45); and creation as an ‘act’, rather than an ‘art’ (p. 75). Similarly, we have not adopted from later Hogarth Press printings Woolf’s comment about women, ‘I like their subtlety’ (p. 80), being succeeded by ‘I like their completeness’. End-line hyphens in the origi¬ nal text have been resolved with reference to the other occurrences of these words in the text; where this has proved not to be sufficient, the most common spelling in the OED has usually been adopted. A full list of textual variants and emendations is given in the Appendix.


Notes


1 DII69.

2 Arnold Bennett, Our Women: Chapters on the Sex-Discord (London: Cassell and Company, 1920), pp. 101-4.

3 Affable Hawk [Desmond MacCarthy], ‘Books in General’, New Statesman, 2 October 1920, p. 704. The majority of the column was devoted to Our Women, although the last (brief) paragraph referred to Orlo Williams’s The Good Englishwoman, which MacCarthy called ‘condescending’. However, the penultimate paragraph runs: ‘About twelve years ago a book called Sex and Character, by Otto Weininger, was published, which created some stir. (Translation pub¬ lished by Heinemann.) It was written by a young Jew who committed suicide, and it is said that it had such a depressing effect on feminine readers that at least two of them followed his example. It was an hon¬ est, wild book, full of ingenious, highly questionable reasoning, insight and unfairness. It began with a general characterisation of Woman, “W,” which was then divided into two main types, the Courtesan and the Mother, differentiated by their preoccupation with lovers or with children. It ended with discourse upon abnormal types of women and a definition of hysteria as “the organic mendacity of women.” In every human being there were mixed the two elements, “M.” (Man) and “W.” (Woman), just as these characteristics appear physiologically in each sex. To “M.” Weininger attributed all the admirable moral and


xxv


Introduction


intellectual qualities and to “W.” all the bad ones. Women therefore came out badly, for there was by hypothesis more “W.” in them than in the great majority of men.’

4 DII339-42.

5 DII 341.

6 DII 342.

7 Quoted in Michele Barrett, ‘ A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas: Introduction’, in Virginia Woolf: Introductions to the Major Works, ed. Julia Briggs (London: Virago, 1994), pp. 349-94; quote from p. 351. Woolf pasted this review into one of her reading note¬ books: see Virginia Woolf’s Reading Notebooks, ed. Brenda R. Silver (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 266-7 (LVIII, B34)

8 LIV130.

9 Dill 173.

10 These two letters from Woolf are printed in the Virginia Woolf Bulletin, No. 29 (September 2008), p. 4.

11 Dill 175.

12 In a letter of 3 August 1928 to Elsie Phare, Woolf confirmed the date as Saturday 20 October: see facsimile letter in Jane Marcus, Virginia Woolf, Cambridge and ‘A Room of One’s Own’: ‘The Proper Upkeep of Names’ (London: Cecil Woolf, [1996]), p. [40].

13 E. E. Duncan-Jones, ‘Mrs Woolf Comes to Dine’, in A Newnham Anthology, ed. Ann Phillips (Cambridge: Newnham College, 2nd edn, 1988), p.174.

14 Ibid.; emphasis added.

15 U. K. N. Stevenson, ‘A Room of One’s Own’, ibid., p. f 75.

16 See Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (London: Chatto & Windus, 1996), p. 565.

17 See Vanessa Bell’s letter of 29 October [1928] in Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell, ed. Regina Marler (London: Bloomsbury, 1993), pp. 338-40.

18 Dill 200. Margaret Thomas was president and then secretary of the ODTAA: see her letters to Woolf in ‘Letters from Readers’, ed. Beth Rigel Daugherty, Woolf Studies Annual, 12 (2006), pp. 61-2 and 88-9.

19 W&F 3.

20 Dill 200.

21 Quoted in W&F xv-xvi.

22 Patricia Moran, “‘the cat is out of the bag; and it is a Male”: Desmond MacCarthy and the Writing of A Room of One’s Own’, in Essays on Transgressive Readings: Reading Over the Lines, ed. Georgia Johnston (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1997), p. 39.

23 ‘Mrs Woolf Comes to Dine’, p. 174.

24 Stella Gibbons, ‘ The Giraffes’, one of‘Two Poems’ in The Criterion, 6, No. 3 (September 1927), p. 236. The second stanza begins: ‘It was the herd of gold giraffs [sic] / That couple with the hippogriffes,’; the poem


xxvi


Introduction


was reprinted with corrections in Gibbons’s The Mountain Beast: and Other Poems (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1930), p. 8.

25 LV 304.

26 Dill 200.

27 Dill 203.

28 Reprinted in W&F 195-201 and (with annotations) £V 28-36.

29 W&F xxi.

30 These versions have been analysed by Beth Rigel Daugherty in ‘Virginia Woolf’s “How Should One Read a Book?”’, Woolf Studies Annual, 4 (1998), pp. 123-85, and commented on in her ‘Readin’, Writin’, and Revisin’: Virginia Woolf’s “How Should One Read a Book?”’ in Virginia Woolf and the Essay, ed. Beth Carole Rosenberg and Jeanne Dubino (Basingstoke, Hants, & London: Macmillan, 1997), pp. 159-75. For the published versions and a preliminary draft, see LIV 388-99, 597-8, and LV 271-4, 572-82.

31 ‘Readin’, Writin’, and Revisin’ ...’, p. 161.

32 See W&F.

33 W&F xxii.

34 LIV 81.

35 Quoted in W&F xli.

36 Dill 262.

37 See ‘Letters from Readers’, pp. 8, 61-87.

38 [Arthur Sydney MacDowelll, ‘Women and Books’, TLS, 31 October 1929, p. 867; reprinted in CH 255-6.

39 The Listener, 6 November 1929, p. 620 (the talk was broadcast on 31 October); reprinted in CH 257-8.

40 LIV 101.

41 LIV 104-5.

42 LIV 106. See also LIV 107.

43 ‘Queen of the High-Brows’, Evening Standard, 28 November 1929, p. 9; reprinted in CH 258-60.

44 ‘Men, Women and Truth’, Observer, 22 December 1929, p. 4; Woolf pasted this review into one of her reading notebooks: see Virginia Woolf’s Reading Notebooks, p. 265 (LVIII, B24).

45 Empire Review, December 1929, pp. 782-3.

46 PJeter] QJuennell], ‘Readers’ Reports: New Novels’, Life and Letters, 3 (December 1929), p. 551. See also Jane Goldman, ‘Desmond MacCarthy, Life and Letters (1928-35), and Bloomsbury Modernism’, in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, vol. i, ed. Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 428-51, esp. ‘Virginia Woolf’s Spat with Life and Letters’, pp. 442-51.

47 ‘Five Hundred a Year and a Room of One’s Own’, Time and Tide, 15 November 1929, pp. 1371-2; for the excerpts from A Room, see LV 123-32.


xxvii


Introduction


48 Robert Lynd, ‘Letters to Living Authors - 15: Mrs. Virginia Woolf: A Woman of Exquisite Taste’, John O’London’s Weekly, 8 March 1930, p. 876; the quotation appears in an advertisement in the Observer, 25 May 1930, p. 7.

In addition to those cited elsewhere in this introduction, see the fol¬ lowing reviews: ‘Mrs Virginia Woolf: Perfection in a Woman’s Work’, Glasgow Herald, 3 1 October 1929, p. 4; M. H., ‘Women’s Restrictions’, Manchester Guardian, 19 November 1929, p. 7 (reprinted in the Guardian, 19 November 2007); ‘Lodgings of the Muse’, Saturday Review, 148 (23 November 1929), p. 615; Booklist (Chicago), 26, No. 3 (December 1929), p. 112; Annual Register (1929), pt ii, p. 18; Francis Snow, Current History, January 1930, pp. 628, 630; New Adelphi, March 1930, p. 239; Frederick] H[eath], Bermondsey Book, 7, No. 2 (March-May 1930), pp. 96-7; M. B., ‘The Emperor’s Nightingale’, Dublin Magazine, n.s. 4 [i.e. 5], No. 2 (April-June 1930), pp. 74-5; Eric Gillett, ‘Woman to Woman’, Books & Writers (Singapore: Malaya Publishing House, 1930), pp. 41-9 (reprinted from the Straits Times); Katharine Fullerton Gerould, ‘Men, Women and Thrillers’, Yale Review, 19, No. 4 (May 1930), pp. 689-701 at pp. 692-3 and 696-7. More reviews are listed (some with excerpts) in the New York Book Review Digest (1929-30), pp. 1052-3,1144. For collections of reviews, see CH and Eleanor McNees, Virginia Woolf: Critical Assessments, 4 vols (East Sussex: Helm Information, 1994).

49 ‘Virginia Woolf Discusses Women and Fiction’, New York Times, 10 November 1929, sec. 4, p. 2.

50 ‘Sunlight of the Mind’, Neiv York Herald Tribune, 27 October 1929, sec. 12 Books, pp. 1-2.

51 Elisabeth Woodbridge, ‘Speaking for Women’, Yale Revieiv, 19 (Spring 1930), pp. 627-9.

52 Spectator, 28 December 1929, p. 985.

53 ‘Six Essayists’, Bookman, February 1930, pp. 301-2. Gilbert states: ‘I have paid tribute elsewhere to her latest book’; this review has not been discovered and it is possible that he was also the author of the Spectator review.

54 LIV 146-7. For further references to sales, see Dill 263-4,272-3,286.

55 For further bibliographical details, see B. J. Kirkpatrick and Stuart N. Clarke, A Bibliography of Virginia Woolf (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 4th edn, 1997), pp. 72-6. The first UK paperback edition was pub¬ lished at 9 d. by Penguin Books in July 1945 in a print run of 100,000, but it is likely that between 25,000 and 50,000 of those were distrib¬ uted free to the British Armed Services.

56 Kate Millett, Sexual Politics (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1971); Woolf is only mentioned on pp. 129, 139-40 and 156.

57 Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Towards Androgyny: Aspects of Male and Female in Literature (London: Victor Gollancz, 1973).


xxviii


Introduction

58 Millicent Bell, ‘Virginia Woolf Now’, Massachusetts Review, 14 (Autumn 1973), p. 663.

59 Brenda R. Silver, Virginia Woolf Icon (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1999), p. 282.

60 This typescript is now held by the University of Sussex (MHP B15.1). As a generalisation, those pages with the page numbers in parentheses are professionally typed, while the remaining twenty or so pages unnumbered or numbered without parentheses were typed by Woolf.

61 Dill 223.

62 Dill 227.

63 LIV 71.

64 Dill 233.

65 Dill 234.

66 Dill 236-7.

67 Dr Isaac Gewirtz has analysed the unmarked proofs and compared them with the typescript at Sussex and with the first US edition; his findings are published in Woolf Studies Annual, 17 (2011), pp. 1-76; see Appendix below. A copy of the Hogarth Press letter is in the Hogarth Press Archives (MS 2750, folder 570), University of Reading.

68 LIV 76.

69 On 12 April 1938, however, Woolf recorded that ‘on rereading, [A Room ] seems to me a little egotistic, flaunting, sketchy: but has its brilliance - its speed’ (DV 134).

70 Dill 242.

71 For a full bibliographical description of the first editions, see Kirkpatrick and Clarke, Bibliography, pp. 70-2.

72 Invoice Journals 54-5, R. & R. Clark Archive (Dep. 229), National Library of Scotland. The Journals record rounded figures that are slightly fewer than those given in Kirkpatrick and Clarke’s Bibliography.

73 Hogarth Press Archives (MS 2750, folders 559 and 570).

74 Ibid. (MS 2750, Notebook [3], monthly sales 1922-39 and profit and loss figures 1927-37).

75 Dill 235.

76 Dill 238.


XXIX


Notes


1 This essay is based upon two papers ... See Introduction for further details. The Girton society was named after Odtaa: A Novel (London: William Heinemann, 1926) by John Masefield (1878-1967).

3 a room of one’s own In ‘Apostolic Minds and the Spinning House: Jane Ellen Harrison and Virginia Woolf’s Discourse of Alterity’ (Women: A Cultural Review, 22, No. 1 (2011), pp. 69-78), Sowon S. Park argues not only that Woolf’s feminism was informed by Harrison’s ‘feminist position, put forward in her articles “Scientiae sacra fames’ ’ (“Women and Knowledge”) in 1913 and “ Homo sum” (“I Am a Human Being”) in 1915’, but also that Woolf’s choice of title could well be indebted to “‘Scientiae sacra fames”, [in which] Harrison discusses a need for women to own a “Home of One’s Own”.’ Quotations from pp. 74-5. ‘ Scientiae sacra fames’ was reprinted in Harrison’s Alpha and Omega (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1915), pp. 116-42. For Jane Harrison, see note top. 13 below. On 24 January 1925, Woolf wrote to Jacques Raverat: ‘You ask me about Mrs. Joad - truth to tell, she is rather a problem ... She is a tall, straight shingled woman of 25. Came to London, School of Economics, read Shaw, thought she ought to live with a man; did; took up with a clever little bounder called Joad [for whom, see note to p. 17 below]; lived with him; married him; found a letter from a woman in a drawer; left him; now has a room of her own, and walks out with various Cambridge young men, who are not entirely devoted to the fashionable foible of loving their own sex’ (LIII 155).

3 the banks of a river Although she locates herself in a nebulous ‘Oxbridge’ (see note to p. 4 below), Woolf actually imagines herself on The Backs, the open land beside the River Cam, in central Cambridge.


A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf. Edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke. Editorial material © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


83


Notes


The Backs extend from Magdalene Street bridge to Silver Street bridge, and among the colleges whose land makes up The Backs are St. John’s, Trinity, Trinity Hall, Clare, King’s and Queens’.

3 Fanny Burney Pioneering woman novelist (1752-1840) and author of the anonymous Evelina or A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778) and other works. In a review entitled ‘Women Novelists’ (1918), Woolf describes Burney as ‘the mother of English fiction’ (£11 314-17; quotation from p. 314). See also Woolf’s 1929 essay ‘Dr Burney’s Evening Party’ (£V 89-105) and her essay of 1930 entitled ‘Fanny Burney’s Half-Sister’ (EV 151-67).

3 Jane Austen Woolf makes many references to Jane Austen (1775- 1817) and her novels in her writings. See, e.g., Eli 9-16; EIII 268-71; EIII 331-5; EIV 146-57.

3 the Brontes and a sketch of Haworth Parsonage under snow In one of her earliest sketches, ‘Haworth, November, 1904’ (£1 5-9), Woolf recalls that ‘one of the chief points of a recent visit to Yorkshire was that an expedition to Haworth could be accomplished. The neces¬ sary arrangements were made, and we determined to take advantage of the first fine day for our expedition. A real northern snowstorm had been doing the honours of the moors. It was rash to wait fine weather, and it was also cowardly’ (p. 6). The Bronte family, includ¬ ing the writers Charlotte (1816-55), Emily (1818-48) and Anne (1820-49), lived at Haworth Parsonage, near Keighley, west Yorkshire, from 1820. Their father, Patrick Bronte, was the village’s perpetual curate.

3 Miss Mitford Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855), was an essayist, dramatist and poet, especially celebrated for her sketches and poems of rural life. In 1920, Woolf thrice reviewed Constance Hill’s Mary Russell Mitford and her Surroundings (EIII 210-13; EIII 213-15; £111 218- 23) and subsequently incorporated material from these reviews in her piece on ‘Miss Mitford’ in The Common Reader (1925) (EIV 190-5).

3 George Eliot A major influence on Woolf’s sense of herself as a novelist and an intellectual, ‘George Eliot’, the pen-name of Mary Ann, later Marian, Evans (1819-80), was the author of The Mill on the Floss (1860), Middlemarch (1871-2) and other works. Woolf wrote about Eliot in 1919 (to mark the centenary of her birth), in 1921 (EIII 293-5), in 1926 (EIV 386-8), and at length in The Common Reader, a revision of her 1919 essay (EIV 170-81).

3 Mrs. Gaskell The best known works of Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) are Mary Barton (1848), Cranford (1853), North and South (1855) and her Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857). Woolf reviewed a book about Gaskell in 1910 (El 340-4).

4 Oxbridge According to the OED, this portmanteau term was first coined by W. M. Thackeray (1811-63) in Pendennis (1849), where one of his characters attends Boniface College, Oxbridge. Meaning a


84


Notes


composite of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Woolf’s Oxbridge is transparently Cambridge in its topography, though the entrenched male privileges of both universities are her target.

4 Fernham The location of Woolf’s imaginary Fernham College is identical to that of the real-world Newnham College, Cambridge, founded in 1871, and Woolf approaches it by means of a familiar route (see DII 231: ‘strolling up to Newnham the way I used to go’). In the mid-nineteenth century, ferns were both craved and feminised. ‘The cultivation of Ferns is becoming a fashionable pursuit’, wrote Edward Newman in 1840. ‘It is no longer confined to the botanist and horticulturalist; almost every one possessing good taste has made, more or less successfully, an attempt to rear this tribe of plants. Ferns constitute so beautiful a portion of the creation, whether they ornament our ruins with their light and graceful foli¬ age, wave their bright tresses from our weather-beaten rocks, or clothe with evergreen verdure our forests and hedgerows, that it seems next to impossible to behold them without experiencing emo¬ tions of pleasure’ (A History of British Ferns (London: John van Voorst, 1840), p. v). This widespread delight in ferns turned into a craze which only peaked around 1860. See David Elliston Allen, The Victorian Fern Craze: A History of Pteridomania (London: Hutchinson, 1969): ‘There was a constant need for harmless outlets for those idle gentlewomen’s hands that the well intentioned were for ever steering safely out of Satan’s reach; and what for this pur¬ pose could be more perfectly appropriate than forming collections of ferns?’ (p. 19); ‘Charles Kingsley’s Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore [(1856) noted! “the prevailing ‘Pteridomania’” that had descended on womenfolk all over Britain: “The abomination of ‘Fancy-work’ - that standing cloak for dreamy idleness - has all but vanished since Lady-ferns and Venus’s Hair appeared”, its author proclaims with thoroughgoing approval’ (p. 49). In a struck-out typescript version, Fernham is called St. Miriams ( W&F 180). There is no St. Miriam in the mainstream Christian Church and Woolf probably has in mind Miriam the Biblical prophetess, who composes a brief victory song after Pharaoh’s army is drowned in the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20-1): ‘Sing ye to the LORD, for he has triumphed glori¬ ously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.’

4 Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael Woolf alludes to the bal¬ lad known variously as ‘The Queen’s Marie’ or the ‘Ballad of Mary Hamilton’ or ‘Ballad of the Four Marys’. The Queen in question is Mary, Queen of Scots (reigned 1542-67), and the ballad concerns Mary Hamilton, who is to be executed in punishment for her relationship with the king and the murder of the child she has borne him. See, e.g., stanza 19 of ‘The Queen’s Marie’, The Oxford Book of Ballads, ed. Arthur Quiller-Couch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), pp. 369-73:


85


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‘Yestreen the Queen had four Maries,

The night she’ll hae but three;

There was Marie Seaton, and Marie Beaton,

And Marie Carmichael, and me. (p. 372)

4 the willows wept in perpetual lamentation, their hair about their shoulders Cf. Luke 7:37-8, in which ‘a woman in the city, which was a sinner’ brings a ‘box of ointment’ to the house where Christ is eating: ‘And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head

4 Thought ... let its line down into the stream Cf. ‘Professions for Women’, where Woolf uses a fishing metaphor to show how conven¬ tions barring women from writing frankly about their sexual experi¬ ences hamper their creativity as writers (EVI 479-84).

5 Beadle A university official. But Woolf seems to have in mind a col¬ lege porter rather than a beadle.

5 Fellows and Scholars Both were exclusively male at Trinity College until the late 1970s.

5 The spirit of peace descended like a cloud from heaven An allusion to the frequent Biblical image of Jesus descending from heaven at the Second Coming. See, e.g., Exodus 19:9 ‘And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud ...’; Daniel 7:13 ‘I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven ...’; Matthew 26:64 ‘Jesus saith unto him ... Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’; Luke 21:27 ‘And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.’

5 the courts and quadrangles of Oxbridge Courts are indigenous to Cambridge University, whereas quadrangles or quads are exclusive to Oxford.

5 a miraculous glass cabinet through which no sound could penetrate A

possible reference to ‘The Crystal Cabinet’ by William Blake (1757— 1827), the first three verses of which are:

The Maiden caught me in the wild,

Where I was dancing merrily;

She put me into her Cabinet,

And lock’d me up with a golden key.

This cabinet is form’d of gold And pearl and crystal shining bright,

And within it opens into a world And a little lovely moony night.


86


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Another England there I saw Another London with its Tower,

Another Thames and other hills.

And another pleasant Surrey bower.

The modernist novelist Mary Butts (1890-1937) was to publish a volume of autobiography called The Crystal Cabinet: My Childhood at Salterns in 1937.

5 some old essay ... brought Charles Lamb to mind See Charles Lamb, ‘Oxford in the Vacation’, in Elia and the Last Essays of Elia, ed. E. V. Lucas, The Works of Charles Lamb (6 vols; London: Methuen, 1912), vol. ii, pp. 8-13. When ‘Oxford in the Vacation’ was first published in 1820, Lamb added a footnote to it: ‘There is something to me repug¬ nant, at any time, in written hand. The text never seems determinate. Print settles it. I had thought of the Lycidas [see note to p. 6 below] as of a full-grown beauty - as springing up with all it parts absolute - till, in evil hour, I was shown the original copy of it, together with the other minor poems of its author, in the library of Trinity [College, Cambridge], kept like some treasure to be proud of. I wish they had thrown them in the Cam, or sent them, after the latter Cantos of Spenser, into the Irish Channel. How it staggered me to see the fine things in their ore! interlined, corrected! as if their words were mortal, alterable, displaceable at pleasure! as if they might have been other¬ wise, and just as good! as if inspirations were made up of parts, and those fluctuating, successive, indifferent! I will never go into the work¬ shop of any great artist again, nor desire a sight of his picture, till it is fairly off the easel: no, not if Raphael were to be alive again, and painting another Galatea’ (quoted p. 346).

5 Saint Charles, said Thackeray, putting a letter of Lamb’s to his fore¬ head ‘[Thackeray’s] judgments came from the heart rather than the intellect, and it was fortunate when these coincided. “St Charles”, he said to Edward FitzGerald ... putting one of Charles Lamb’s letters to his forehead, remembering his devotion to his afflicted sister’ (Lewis Melville, William Makepeace Thackeray (2 vols; London: John Lane, 1910), vol. i,pp. 180-1).

6 Max Beerbohm’s English essayist, critic and satirist (1872-1956) and author of Zuleika Dobson (1911). In ‘Modern Essays’ (1922), later revised as ‘The Modern Essay’ for inclusion in The Common Reader, Woolf wrote of Beerbohm: ‘here we have an essayist who ... is without doubt the prince of his profession’ (£IV 216-27; quotation from p. 220). See also £111 124-6; £111 275-7.

6 Milton’s poems which he saw here. It was Lycidas In ‘Lycidas’ (1637), Milton mourns the death of his Cambridge friend, Edward King. The manuscript of the poem is housed in the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge. Woolf makes a number of comments about this poem in her writings. See, e.g., ‘discussing what poems we


87


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could come back to unsated, I said Lycidas ’ (Dill 330); ‘that absolute certainty of delight which breathes through us when we come back again to Comus, or ‘Lycidas’, ‘Urn Burial’ or Antony and Cleopatra’’ (£11 60); ‘Lady Strachey’ (1928): ‘When she was past eighty, she stopped one summer evening under a tree in a London square and recited the whole of “Lycidas” without a fault’ (£IV 576).

6 To think of Milton changing the words in that poem ... sacrilege See note to p. 5 above concerning Lamb’s shock at seeing the manuscript of ‘Lycidas’.

6 the manuscript of Thackeray’s Esmond is also preserved Woolf’s father, Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), gave the manuscript of W. M. Thackeray’s The History of Henry Esmond, Esquire (1852) to the Wren Library, Trinity College. Stephen’s first wife was Thackeray’s youngest daughter. See Woolf’s early journals, where she records: ‘Father reading us Esmond ’ (16 January 1897) and, ten days later, ‘Father finished Esmond to us this evening’ (PA 15, 22). According to Jane Marcus, Esmond ‘is in the hand of [Thackeray’s] daughter, Annie and bears almost no revisions’ (Jane Marcus, Virginia Woolf, Cambridge and A Room of One’s Own’: ‘The Proper Upkeep of Names’ (London: Cecil Woolf, [1996]), p. 76 note 34).

6 The critics often say that Esmond is Thackeray’s most perfect novel Walter Pater (1839-94), for example, wrote in ‘Style’: ‘A per¬ fect poem like Lycidas, a perfect fiction like Esmond ... has for them [scholars and ‘all disinterested lovers of books’] something of the uses of a religious “retreat”’ (Walter Pater, Appreciations: With an Essay on Style (London: Macmillan, 1924), p. 14).

6 ladies are only admitted ... furnished with a letter of introduction The investigations of Sheila M. Wilkinson, in ‘A Room of One’s Oivn and the Wren Library’, Virginia Woolf Bulletin, No. 6 (January 2001), p. 30, however, suggest that no such letter was required in the late 1920s, though all visitors were expected to be accompanied by a Fellow.

6 I descended the steps in anger Woolf’s obligatory retreat anticipates an incident in 1935 when she encountered E. M. Forster in the London Library. Forster had attended a meeting of its committee and Woolf thought he might be about to invite her to join the Library’s board, but instead he told her that the committee had agreed that ‘ladies are impossible’ (DIV 297-8). In response, Woolf considered writing a piece entitled ‘On Being Despised’, but she had to shelve this project in order to finish The Years.

baptismal certificate, or a letter of introduction from the Dean None of the children of the agnostic Leslie Stephen was baptised. The Dean of King’s College Chapel in 1928 was Eric Milner-White (1884-1963). It was he who conceived the celebrated Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, first held in King’s College Chapel on Christmas Eve 1918 and first broadcast by the BBC in 1928.


88


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like bees at the mouth of a hive Cf. the description of Trinity College, Cambridge, in the third chapter of Jacob’s Room: ‘The young men were now back in their rooms. Heaven knows what they were doing. What was it that could drop like that? ... upstairs they went and down they went, until a sort of fulness settled on the court, the hive full of bees, the bees home thick with gold, drowsy, humming, suddenly vocal ...’ (JR 33).

tufts of fur on their shoulders The Cambridge BA academic hood is ‘a black stuff hood partly lined with white [rabbit] fur and with the cape edged with fur one inch on each side’ (G. W. Shaw, Academical Dress of British Universities (Cambridge: Heffer, 1966), p. 38). those giant crabs ... the sand of an aquarium ‘[The philosopher John McTaggart Ellis] McTaggart [1866-1925] was an extraordinary fig¬ ure in my day. He suffered from agoraphobia, and walked with a strange crab-like gait, keeping his backside to the wall, as if afraid that someone would kick it...’ (Kingsley Martin, Father Figures: A Volume of Autobiography (Tondon: Hutchinson, 1966), p. 120). McTaggart had retired from his Lectureship at Trinity College in 1923 after twenty-five years’ service.

~ the Strand Runs from Trafalgar Square to Temple Bar in London. Woolf makes frequent reference to this busy thoroughfare in her nov¬ els and non-fictional writings. Elizabeth Dalloway, for example, escapes to it by means of an unregulated omnibus in Mrs. Dalloway: ‘It was quite different here from Westminster, she thought ... It was so serious; it was so busy. In short, she would like to have a profession. She would become a doctor, a farmer, possibly go into Parliament if she found it necessary, all because of the Strand’ (MD 102).

7 Old stories of old deans ... into a gallop Woolf is probably remem¬ bering ‘a singular old cousin, who trots if you whistle, and gallops if you sing’, named Albert Venn Dicey (1835-1922), Vinerian Professor of English Law at Oxford, 1882-1909 (see LI 507, 508).

7 on a deep foundation King’s College, Cambridge, was founded in 1440 by Henry VI. The Founder’s statutes provided for a Provost and seventy poor scholars from Eton College, as well as a choir to sing the daily services.

8 Men with trays on their heads went busily from staircase to staircase These trays are described as ‘tin dishes’ on p. 16 of A Room. Cf. Jacob’s Room: ‘... an elderly man, in a green apron, car¬ rying an immense pile of tin covers, hesitated, balanced, and then went on’ (JR 34).

8 lunch on this occasion ... The partridges, many and various On 21 October 1928, Woolf was invited to lunch in George Rylands’s rooms at King’s along with Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes (1883— 1946) and Lytton Strachey (1880-1932). Rylands (1902-99) had briefly worked for the Woolfs at the Hogarth Press in 1924 and his


89


Notes


dissertation and verse were subsequently published by the Press. In an interview, Rylands recalled: ‘partridges various ? I don’t think there could be more than one kind of partridge. And I don’t very much like the idea, except that it was very much like college cooking, of a counterpane of sauce with some little brown flecks on it. ... And I hope there were two wines. I think it unlikely and there was probably only one’ (quoted in Recollections of Virginia Woolf, ed. Jean Russell Noble (London: Peter Owen, 1972), p. 144). The room in which the luncheon took place had recently been decorated by the artist Dora Carrington (1893-1932): see Peter Murray Jones, ‘Carrington (and Woolf) in Cambridge, 1928’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 13, No. 3 (2006), pp. 301-34; see esp. pp.318-23.

9 We are all going to heaven and Vandyck is of the company The last words, supposedly, of the painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) as whispered to the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92). The Flemish painter Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) is renowned for his portraits of Charles I and his court.

9 sunk Woolf tended to favour ‘sunk’ as the past tense of ‘sink’, rather than the more usual ‘sank’. Cf. ‘The Leaning Tower’, where Woolf’s original ‘what was unimportant sunk into forgetfulness’ was ‘cor¬ rected’ to ‘what was unimportant sank into forgetfulness’ by Leonard Woolf for the publication of the essay in The Moment and Other Essays (London: Hogarth Press, 1950), p. 109 (see £VI 263, 278).

9 a cat without a tail In Women & Fiction the cat without a tail brings to mind unspecified thoughts which the narrator leaves it ‘to Freud’ to explain (W&F 14). In 1920, Woolf reviewed Limbo by Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), which also contains an allusion to a Manx cat. Huxley’s character Mrs. Cravister, who is based on the mother of Molly MacCarthy (1882-1953), Blanche Warre Cornish (c.1847-1922), remarks of Manx cats: ‘No tails, no tails. Like men. How symbolical everything is!’ See ‘Cleverness and Youth’, £111 177.

9 another luncheon party ... Everything was different King’s College is very near Trinity College, where Woolf’s brother Thoby was an undergraduate from 1899 to 1902 and where Leonard Woolf also arrived as a Scholar in 1899. Cf. the 1901 Trinity tea- party recalled by Leonard Woolf in his autobiography, the occasion on which he first set eyes on his future wife and her sister: ‘The young ladies - Vanessa was twenty-one or twenty-two, Virginia eighteen or nineteen - were just as formidable and alarming as their father, perhaps even more so. I first saw them one summer afternoon in Thoby’s rooms; in white dresses and large hats, with parasols in their hands, their beauty literally took one’s breath away ... Sitting with them in their brother’s room was their cousin, Miss Katherine Stephen, Principal of Newnham, with whom they


90


Notes


were staying’ (Leonard Woolf, Sowing: An Autobiography of the Years 1880-1904 (London: Hogarth Press, 1967), pp. 182-3).

10 A book lay beside me The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250- 1900 (OBEV).

10 There has fallen a splendid tear ... “I wait.” Part I, Section XXII, stanza 10 of Maud (1855) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92); OBEV 847. Tennyson reads ‘Maud’ throughout Woolf’s play, Freshwater (London: Hogarth Press, 1976), of which she wrote two versions, the first in 1923 and the second in 1935.

10 My heart is like ...my love is come to me Opening stanza of ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti (1830-94); OBEV 948. See Woolf’s 1930 essay ‘I am Christina Rossetti’ (EV 208-17): ‘She who loved the “obtuse and furry” - the wombats and toads and mice of the earth - and called Charles Cayley “my blindest buzzard, my special mole,” admitted no moles, wombats, buzzards or Cayleys to her heaven’ (p. 210).

11 After the avenue ... Fernham These directions make it even clearer that Fernham is Newnham. As Stuart Clarke reminds us, Rylands’s rooms were in the Old Lodge, on the south side of King’s College Back Lawn. If Woolf had turned west on leaving the Old Lodge and had pro¬ ceeded along the tree-lined avenue through the Gateway, she would soon have arrived at Queen’s Road. If she had then turned left, the ‘right turning’ to Newnham is where Queen’s Road meets Sidgwick Avenue. Having turned right at this junction, Newnham is on the left-hand side of Sidgwick Avenue. Cf. the Cambridge ‘avenue’ that ‘some vague and vanishing figure - it might be Jinny, it might be Susan, or was that Rhoda disappearing down the avenue’ that Bernard refers to in The Waves ( W 54); see also Jacob’s Room, where the fleeting presence of Miss Umphelby, clearly a representation of Jane Harrison (see note to p. 13 below), is seen ‘taking her way up the avenue towards Newnham’ (JR 33). ‘If the narrator had mistaken her way and turned left along Silver Street... over the bridge’, Clarke continues, ‘she would have seen a small weir nearby, on the right along Laundress Lane ... And ... instead of turning right for Newnham or left into Silver Street, if the narrator had continued across the junction into Newnham Road ... she would have seen on the left a mill...’ (Stuart N. Clarke, ‘Mistaking the Turning in Oxbridge’, Virginia Woolf Bulletin, No. 46 (May 2014), pp. 46-9). See also W&F 18-21 for further confirmation that Woolf had Newnham in mind as she wrote this section of A Room.

11 Headingly is a suburb of Leeds, but Woolf probably has in mind the equally dactyllic Madingley, a village on the western margins of Cambridge (although she is actually heading south at this point). ‘One last effort was made to hire a house near Cambridge - Madingley Hall - but the owner declined to let it to a Ladies’ College. There was nothing to be done but to stay on at Hitchin’ (Stephen 268) in Hertfordshire, where the college that would become Girton


91


Notes


was located before moving to the outskirts of Cambridge in 1873. Furthermore, Headington is a suburb of Oxford, which, with Cambridge’s Madingley, can be compounded to create the imaginary Oxbridge suburb of Headingley.

11 where the waters are churned up by the weir A possible reference to the Mill Pond opposite Malting Lane on the east side of Newnham Road.

12 these houses ... raw and red and squalid, with their sweets and their bootlaces Woolf seems to have in mind the shops and cottages on the east side of Newnham Road, beyond the junction with Malting Lane and before the modern-day traffic roundabout.

13 purples and golds burn ... the beat of an excitable heart The ‘purples and golds’ may well echo Byron’s ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’ (1815): ‘The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, / And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold’ (11. 1-2), while the ‘excita¬ ble heart’ may recall ‘Tess’s excitable heart’ in Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), Chapter XXVII, by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).

13 two edges ... cutting the heart asunder Cf. Proverbs 5:4 ‘But her end is ... sharp as a twoedged sword.’; Acts 5:33 ‘When they heard that, they were cut to the heart ...’; Acts 7:54 ‘When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart ...’; Hebrews 4:12 ‘For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit ...’

13 The gardens of Fernham lay before me in the spring twilight Woolf seems to have stepped back in time to May 1912, when she met Jane Harrison at Newnham ‘in the dusk, in the college garden’ (see LI 498).

13 daffodils and bluebells Jane Marcus states that daffodils are ‘Newnham’s mascot’ and bluebells are ‘a reference to nearby Madingley Woods’ in Jane Marcus, Virginia Woolf, Cambridge and A Room of One’s Own’ p. 63.

13 The windows of the building ... generous waves of red brick ‘Newnham Hall was a Queen Anne building, of red brick, which has mellowed after its [first] forty years. The architect, Mr. Basil Champneys [1842-1935], took a strong personal interest in its orig¬ inal plan and subsequent extension’ (Alice Gardner, A Short History of Newnham College, Cambridge (Cambridge: Bowes and Bowes, 1921), p. 28). ‘Following a suggestion by the Principal of Newnham, Miss Clough, Old Hall [the original Newnham Hall] was designed along the corridor system, with a window at each end of the corri¬ dor. This was in opposition to the traditional collegiate stair¬ case pattern which [Alfred] Waterhouse [1830-1905] had already abandoned in the solemn and relentlessly Gothic women’s college he built at Girton in 1872’ (David Watkin, The Architecture of Basil Champneys (Cambridge: Newnham College, 1989), pp. 10-11).


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Ironically, Champneys was committed to the windows of the corri¬ dor system because he believed that ‘women’s colleges must neces¬ sarily be of a more “domestic character” than men’s’ (p. 11).

13 /- H - herself Jane Harrison (1850-1928), classical scholar

and anthropologist. Harrison was greatly admired by Woolf, and Harrison’s Reminiscences of a Student’s Life had been published by the Hogarth Press in 1925. For Woolf’s visits to Harrison in her last months and on her deathbed, see Dill 176,180-1.

13 the great dining-hall Clough Hall at Newnham, where Woolf gave her 1928 talk.

13 coal-miners doubtless were sitting down to less Following their defeat in the General Strike of 1926, many coal miners were prevented from resuming employment and those who did get their jobs back had to endure punitive labour conditions.

13 Primes and custard followed In her review of A Room in the Nation and Athenceum on 9 November 1929, Lyn Lloyd Irvine, who graduated from Girton in 1927, joked: ‘Loyalty prompts me to observe here that Fernham cannot be Girton, for at Girton the staple sweet is dried apricots - the Students call them Dead Men’s Ears’ (quoted EV 122).

14 Somerville ... or Christchurch Somerville Hall was founded in Oxford in 1879. It was named after Mary Somerville (1780-1872), a Scottish mathematician and scientist. In 1894, Somerville was the first women’s hall to adopt the name of ‘college’; it was granted a college charter in 1925. The other Oxford college in question is Christ Church (‘Christchurch’ is a town in Dorset).

14 my friend, who taught science ‘Mary Seton’ is based on Pernel Strachey (1876-1951), Principal of Newnham, 1923-41. She was the eighth of ten children and one of the sisters of Lytton Strachey. Cf. Mary Beton, who is one of ‘thirteen children’. Pernel Strachey was a French scholar, not a scientist. See Barbara Caine, Bombay to Bloomsbury: A Biography of the Strachey Family (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

15 the head of the dead king ... at Windsor ‘In 1813, in consequence of some excavations ... in St. George’s Chapel [Windsor]’, the vault con¬ taining the remains of King Charles I was found by workmen and his coffin opened. ‘When the covering was removed from the face, “the left eye, in the first moment of exposure was full and open, but van¬ ished almost immediately; and the pointed beard, so characteristic of the period of King Charles, was perfect... The head, which was loose, when removed, gave a greenish red stain to paper’”, but it did not ‘fade and crumble’ as Woolf suggests (Charles Wheeler Coit, The Royal Martyr (London: Selwyn and Blount, 1924), p. 373).

15 about the year 1860 ... you know the story ‘Incorporation as a College was not to come for nine years, nor any measure of distinct recognition by the University for ten years. But no Newnham woman


93


Notes


would reckon our beginnings from 1880 or 1881 ... student life and university instruction had for us its embodiment in the little commu¬ nity of five, and their teachers and helpers, whose relations with Cambridge began in 1871’ (Gardner, A Short History of Newnham College, Cambridge, p. 2). ‘The meeting of schoolmistresses at Manchester on October 6, 1866, at which the subject of colleges was discussed, put the final touch to the train of events which, as Miss Davies notes in her Family Chronicle, “led - or drove - me to the con¬ clusion that our case could only be met by starting a new College for Women.”’ (Stephen 148).

15 The Saturday Review has been very rude ‘As the Saturday Review remarked: “No woman ought to be encouraged in the belief that she has separate interests or separate duties. God and Nature have merged her existence in that of her husband.’” Quoted in Stephen 6; see also pp. 13—14, 15 note 3, 16, 39 note 2, 42-3, 51 note 1, 91 note 1, 117 and 143 for further derogatory comments that appeared in the Saturday Revieiv about ‘the petticoat rebellion’ (p. 42). But see also the reference to a Saturday Revieiv article of 1871, which, in the words of Barbara Stephen, ‘showed a welcome change from the impa¬ tient and patronizing tone habitual to [the Saturday Review] in dis¬ cussing anything about women’ (p. 259).

15 Can’t we find a pretty girl to sit in the front row? See Stephen 90: ‘Miss Craig was triumphant at securing “three lovely girls for the front row” - the three Miss Hares.’

15 what John Stuart Mill said on the subject The philosopher and econ¬ omist John Stuart Mill (1806-73) argued in The Subjection of Women (1869) for the legal, moral and social treatment of women as the equals of men. Barbara Stephen wrote of J. S. Mill: ‘In his election address [as an MP in 1865] he had the courage to announce his conviction that the franchise ought to be extended to women - an announcement which, had it come from anyone else, would have excited nothing but ridicule’ (Stephen 107). In 1870, Mill and his wife, Helen Taylor, donated a scholarship to help women attend the newly organised ‘Lectures for Women in Cambridge, in connection with the newly established Women’s Examinations’ (Stephen 246 note 2).

15 “We are told that we ought to ask for £30,000 at least. ... a good deal.” Stephen 150-1 has ‘College’ rather than ‘college’.

16 if she had gone into business ...a magnate on the Stock Exchange See ‘Women Must Weep’ (1938): ‘both the Army and the Navy are closed to our sex. Nor, again, are we allowed to be members of the Stock Exchange’ (£VI 137). Women were excluded from the Stock Exchange until 1973, the first women joining that institution on 26 March of that year.

16 Parthenon Completed in 438 BC, the Parthenon is a temple on the Acropolis in Athens dedicated to Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom (among other things). The Greek epithet jtapOevoq (parthenos) means


94


Notes


‘virgin or unmarried woman’. Woolf visited the Parthenon in 1906 while touring Greece with her brothers Adrian and Thoby, her sister Vanessa and Violet Dickinson. She was overwhelmed by its grandeur: ‘... the Parthenon is still radiant & young. Its columns spring up like fair round limbs, flushed with health’ (PA 322). In another journal entry, Woolf wrote: ‘But it is the Parthenon that over comes you; it is so large, & so strong, & so triumphant. You feel warmed through & through, as though you walked by some genial hearth’ (PA 323). When Jacob Flanders visits the Parthenon, the narrator observes: ‘the Parthenon is really astonishing in its silent composure; which is so vigorous that, far from being decayed, the Parthenon appears, on the contrary, likely to outlast the entire world’ (JR 123).

16 Every penny ... bad to be postponed Quotation from Ray Strachey, The Cause: A Short History of the Women’s Movement in Great Britain (London: Bell, 1928), p. 250.

17 children ... running wild in Russia See ‘Soviet Russia. Professor Karlgren’s Survey’, a letter to the Editor of The Times from Herbert Dunelm (The Bishop of Durham) concerning Bolshevist Russia (1927) by Anton Karlgren, The Times (16 February 1927), p. 10: ‘While the Bolshevist officials are drafting and circulating an endless succession of schemes, &c., the school buildings are falling down, the teachers are starving, and the children are running wild.’

17 only for the last forty-eight-years ...a penny of her own Although Woolf’s arithmetic is imprecise, she is referring to the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 that allowed married women to retain £200 of their own earnings (previously the property of their hus¬ bands); in 1882, another Married Women’s Property Act gave married women the same property rights as unmarried women, and allowed both to carry on trades or businesses using their own property.

17 Balliol or Kings Balliol College, Oxford, was founded around 1263. It elected its first woman Fellow in 1973 and has admitted women as students since 1979. Among the Balliol men with whom Woolf was acquainted were Aldous Huxley, Raymond Mortimer (1895-1980) and (though by no means as intimately) the philosopher C. E. M. Joad (1891-1953; see note to p. 3 above). For King’s College, Cambridge, see note to p. 7 above.

18 St. Andrews Pernel Strachey had no connection with either the town of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, or its ancient university.

19 the strife of tongue Cf. Psalms 31:20 ‘Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.’

20 to make some pattern Cf. The Years : ‘Does everything then come over again a little differently? she thought. If so, is there a pattern; a theme, recurring, like music; half remembered, half foreseen? ... a gigantic pattern, momentarily perceptible?’ (Y 260). In ‘Sketch of the


95


Notes


Past’, Woolf wrote: ‘I reach what 1 might call a philosophy; at any rate it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that we - I mean all human beings - are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art’ (MB 85).

20 vast dome ... a band of famous names Woolf is describing the Reading Room of the British Museum, opened in 1857, where the names of distinguished men (but no women) of letters are engraved in a band round the dome. In Jacob’s Room, ‘Miss Julia Hedge, the femi¬ nist, waited for her books’, sees the names and says, ‘“Oh damn ... why didn’t they leave room for an Eliot or a Bronte?”’ (JR 87). See P. R. Harris, The Reading Room (London: British Museum, 1986), p. 27.

20 a wilderness of spiders The phrase recalls Shylock’s ‘a wilderness of monkeys’ in The Merchant of Venice (Ill.i).

20 beak of brass Cf. this description of Mr. Ramsay demanding sympa¬ thy from his wife in To the Lighthouse-, ‘into this delicious fecundity, this fountain and spray of life, the fatal sterility of the male plunged itself, like a beak of brass, barren and bare’ (TL 34).

21 the aloe that flowers once in a hundred years It is a common miscon¬ ception that the aloe vera plant only blossoms once in 100 years, though it can live for much longer. ‘The Aloe’ was the name of an early version of Prelude (London: Hogarth Press, 1918) by Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923).

21 drawing cart-wheels on the slips of paper Drawing cartwheels was a form of doodling that Woolf herself indulged in: for reproductions of such doodles, see Virginia Woolf, The Pargiters: The Novel-Essay Portion of‘The Years’, ed. Mitchell A. Leaska (London: Hogarth Press, 1978), pp. 39, 50, 59, 76, 85,106, 130-1. Eleanor Pargiter is encoun¬ tered ‘blackening the strokes on her blotting-paper’ in the ‘1910’ chapter of The Years (Y 123), and in the ‘Present Day’ chapter Sara visits a man who is ‘toying with the blotting-paper, ornamented in one corner with a cartwheel’ (Y 240).

21 South Sea Islanders, age of puberty among Woolf almost certainly has in mind Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa: A Study of Adolescence and Sex in Primitive Societies (1928; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1954). The issue of girls’ puberty is discussed on pp. 60 and 119-20. It is also dealt with in two other ground-breaking anthropo¬ logical studies of the late 1920s, Bronislaw Malinowski’s Sex and Repression in Savage Society (1927; London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960), pp. 64-73, and Malinowski’s The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia (London: Routledge, 1929), pp. 53-9: ‘The Amorous Life of Adolescence’.

22 Lord Birkenhead’s opinion of F. E. Smith, Earl of Birkenhead (1872— 1930), Conservative statesman. In the peroration to a speech he gave against women’s suffrage in 1910 (part of which he reprinted in 1928),


96


Notes


Birkenhead declared: ‘I have never in the course of my observations here or elsewhere founded myself on some assumed intellectual inferi¬ ority of women. I do not believe it, but I venture to say that the sum total of human happiness, knowledge and achievement would have been almost unaffected if Sappho had never sung, if Joan of Arc had never fought, if Siddons had never played, and if George Eliot had never written. At the same time, without the true functions of woman¬ hood faithfully discharged throughout the ages the very existence of the race and the tenderest and most sacred influences which animate mankind would have disappeared’ (quoted in John Campbell, F. E. Smith, First Earl of Birkenhead (London: Cape, 1983), p. 279). Birkenhead remained opposed to women being given the vote. In its report on the Second Reading of the Franchise Bill in the House of Lords (23 May 1928), The Times quoted Birkenhead’s ‘Frank Statement’: ‘He had been against the extension of the franchise to women, he still was, and always would be against the extension of the franchise to women, but there was not the slightest inconsistency in that attitude and in his support of the Bill. It was in 1919, after the War, that disaster took place. (Laughter.) If it had not been for the War, in his judgement, they would have continued successfully to resist this measure for an indefinite period of time ... In that year, in which nearly everybody went mad (laughter), discussion arose as to an extension of the franchise’ (p. 8). Nor was Birkenhead impressed by the efforts of women writers. Taking as his subject ‘Women in Literature’, in a speech he delivered at the 1928 ‘ladies’ dinner’ of the Authors’ Club, Birkenhead opined that ‘it was a very remarkable thing how few women in the whole history of the world had ever attained to great literary distinction. There had been many women writers of great distinction in this country, but not in any way comparable to men writers of distinction. ... A defence might be found in the defects in education, but to that defence he gave no support. What he wished to do was to make it quite plain that if you took the last 300 years of European life women authors had not held their own with male authors during that period’(‘Lord Birkenhead and “Women in Literature’”, The Times (14 March 1928), p. 10).

22 Dean Inge’s opinion of William Ralph Inge (1860-1954), Dean of St Paul’s (1911-34), writer and religious commentator, whose outlook and tone earned him the nickname of ‘The Gloomy Dean’. Inge was a prominent eugenicist, and in essays such as ‘The Birth-Rate’ he made it abundantly clear what he thought the role of women should be in ‘peopling our Dominions with our own stock, while yet there is time’, in preparation for the next war with Germany: ‘Systematic plans of colonisation should be worked out, and emigrants drafted off to the Dominions as work can be found for them. Young women should be sent out in sufficient numbers to keep the sexes equal’ (William Ralph


97


Notes


Inge, ‘The Birth-Rate’, in Outspoken Essays (London: Longman’s, Green, 1920), pp. 59-81; quotations from pp. 79, 80). In another eugenicist essay he stated: ‘The sterilising effects of women’s higher education in America are incontrovertible, though this inference is hotly denied in England’ (‘The Future of the English Race’, Outspoken Essays, pp. 82-105; quotation from p. 85. See also p. 100).

22 La Bruyere’s opinion of See note below.

22 Dr. Johnson’s opinion of On 31 July 1763, James Boswell (1740-95)

told Samuel Johnson (1709-84) that he ‘had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. JOHNSON. “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hin¬ der legs. It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all’” (. Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, ed. George Birkbeck Hill; rev. and enlarged by L. F. Powell (6 vols; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934-50), vol. i, p. 463). The female narrator of Jacob’s Room makes ironic allusion to Johnson’s comment during the scene in King’s College Chapel JR 25).

22 Mr. Oscar Browning’s opinion of A Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, from 1859 until his death, Oscar Browning (1837-1923) reappears in the third chapter of A Room. He became a master at Eton, his old school, in 1860, but was dismissed amid sexual scandal in 1875 and returned to King’s. An ardent admirer of George Eliot’s writings, she and his mother were the only significant women in his life. In his memoirs, Browning recalls attending a ball at Girton in 1878: ‘I never saw such bad dancing in my life. On Monday the ladies came to my lecture for the first time; I persuaded the College to give them permission to come to the same lectures as the men, and it has produced quite a sensation in the University’ (Oscar Browning, Memories of Sixty Years at Eton, Cambridge and Elsewhere (London: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1910), p. 272). The following year, dur¬ ing ‘a party at Girton’, Browning and [the blind economist] Henry Fawcett [1833-84] ‘listened to music and wandered about inspecting the young ladies’ rooms’ (p. 282).

22 Samuel Butler say ... think of women?” ‘It has been said that all sensible men are of the same religion and that no sensible man ever says what that religion is. So all sensible men are of the same opinion about women and no sensible man ever says what that opinion is.’ Elsewhere, Butler was more forthcoming. Of women’s suffrage, he wrote: ‘I will vote for it when women have left off making a noise in the reading-room of the British Museum, when they leave off wearing high head-dresses in the pit of a theatre, and when I have seen as many as twelve women in all catch hold of the strap or bar on getting into an omnibus.’ Both quotations are from Samuel Butler, The Note- Books, Shrewsbury Edition of the Works of Samuel Butler, ed. Henry Festing Jones and A. T. Bartholomew (20 vols; London: Jonathan Cape, 1923-36), vol. xx, p. 229.


98


Notes


22 Pope ... no character at all Alexander Pope (1688-1744),‘Epistles to Several Persons’: Epistle 11, ‘To a Lady of the Characters of Women’ (1735), 11. 1-2: ‘Nothing so true as what you once let fall, / “Most Women have no Characters at all.”’

22 La Bruyere ... ou pires qne les hommes From ‘Des femmes’, Les Caracteres (1688) by Jean de la Bruyere (1645-96), French writer and moralist: ‘Women are extreme; they are better or worse than men.’

22 Napoleon thought them incapable Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) declared himself Emperor of France in 1804. ‘Napoleon’s personal biases about women’s inherent nature had important implications for education designed for women and girls. The emperor immediately saw the need for higher education for boys - and excluded female education completely - when he later created the Imperial University, the state monopoly over education beginning at the lycee level’ (June K. Burton, Napoleon and the Woman Question: Discourses of the Other Sex in French Education, Medicine, and Medical Law 1799-1815 (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2007), p. 26). ‘Napoleon tried to justify his inattention to female education by pointing out that since marriage, not public life, was the single destiny of girls, they need only be educated in manners, something best performed by their mothers’ (p. 33).

22 “‘Men know that women ... he was serious in what he said.” This quotation is to be found in the entry for Sunday, 19 September 1773.

23 Goethe honoured them; Mussolini despises them Woolf is probably alluding to the last line of Goethe’s Faust : ‘Das ewig Weibliche zieht uns hinan’ (‘The eternal feminine draws us onward’). Woolf quotes from James Russell Lowell (1819-91), ‘Das Ewig-Weibliche’, in her ‘Speech to the London and National Society for Women’s Service’ (EV 635-48; quoted on p. 639). Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was leader of the National Fascist Party, Prime Minister of Italy from 1922 to 1925, and dictator of Italy, known as II Duce [‘The Leader’] from 1925 to 1943. ‘The modern woman is liable to forget the primary duties she owes to civilization,’ Mussolini remarked, ‘and therefore I am not in favor of woman’s dabbling in politics.’ ‘Woman never created any¬ thing’, he also opined; ‘you cannot point to any single instance where a woman has created anything that has been passed down to poster¬ ity.’ ‘Emancipation of women has imperilled the domestic security of the home and the safety of the world from the point of view of eugen¬ ics’ was another of his observations. All three comments are quoted in ‘What Margaret Sanger Thinks of Mussolini’ (1937) by Margaret Sanger (1911-60): http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/ app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=143477.xml [accessed 24 February 2014].

23 Professor von X. Woolf may be referring to Sex and Character (1903) by Otto Weininger (1880-1903), which is discussed by Desmond MacCarthy in his review of Our Women: Chapters on the


99


Notes


Sex-Discord (1920) by Arnold Bennett. MacCarthy wrote of Sex and Character. ‘In every human being there were mixed the two elements, “M.” (Man) and “W.” (Woman), just as these characteristics appear physiologically in each sex. To “M.” Weininger attributed all the admi¬ rable moral and intellectual qualities and to “W.” all the bad ones’ (‘Affable Hawk’, ‘Books in General’, New Statesman, 15, No. 390 (2 October 1920), p. 704). Woolf read and was horrified by MacCarthy’s support of Bennett’s views and wrote two letters of protest to him: see DII 339-42 for the letters concerned. MacCarthy’s comments on Weininger are quoted in full in note 3 in the Introduction.

23 Whs the cavalry officer slim and elegant and dressed in astrachan? Cf.

an article headed ‘The Duke’s Coat. Follows Astrakhan fashion Set by the Prince of Wales’ in the London Evening Standard (27 February 1929), p. 1: ‘The Duke [of York], who was wearing an astrakhan coat, following the fashion recently set by the Prince of Wales, presided at the annual meeting of the Hunters’ Improvement and National Light Horse Breeding Society, of which he is the retiring president.’

23 the Freudian theory ... pretty girl? Woolf probably has in mind Freud’s discussion of the relationship between infantile trauma and adult sexuality and perversion in his ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’ (1905), first translated into English by A. A. Brill in 1910 as Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex. Woolf was certainly famil¬ iar with the basic ideas of Freud as early as 1918 (DI 110), and she and Leonard Woolf, in publishing Freud’s writings through their Hogarth Press, were influential in the general dissemination of psy¬ choanalytic thought in Britain. For a detailed discussion of Woolf and Freud, see Elizabeth Abel, Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).

23 “ The ancient Germans ... consulted them as oracles.'” See Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (1922; London: Macmillan, 1929), p. 97.

24 like a burning bush Exodus 3; the place where Moses was directed to lead his people out of bondage.

24 Hampstead Heath Around 800 acres of open public land in north London.

25 the colonnade ... the prehistoric canoes There is no mention of canoes on the front colonnade of the British Museum in any of the general guides from the 1920s, but in 1927 the Museum acquired a full-sized war canoe from the Solomon Islands courtesy of a donation by William Hesketh Lever (1st Lord Leverhulme, 1851-1925). This canoe was so massive that Lever had had to store it in a school bicycle shed when it first reached Liverpool from the Pacific. Haddon and Hornell’s standard work on Pacific island canoes has a photograph of a large British Museum canoe, this time from Manihiki in the Cook Islands, which was acquired in 1898 and is discussed by Haddon and


100


Notes


Hornell under the title ‘Ancient Types’, which might have coincided with the Museum’s labelling, and so might go some way towards explaining Woolf’s use of the word ‘prehistoric’: see Alfred C. Haddon and James Hornell, Canoes of Oceania (3 vols; Honolulu: Berenice P. Bishop Museum, 1936), vol. i, pp. 176-7. We are very grateful to Rupert Richard Arrowsmith, author of Modernism and the Museum: Asian, African, and Pacific Art and the London Avant-Garde (2011), for looking into this matter on our behalf, and for his speculation that ‘a decision was taken at some point to exhibit all of the canoes on the colonnade rather than keeping them in storage, as no room would have been available for them inside the building. In the 1930s there was an area known as “the boat pound” at the back of the British Museum and it is likely that the canoes in the boat pound were on the colonnade before that.’

25 a big score ... Chamberlain ... Shamelessness of Women ... foggy The ‘big score’ refers to either a team as a whole or more likely an indi¬ vidual batsman amassing a significant innings (or total number of runs) in a cricket match between England and South Africa. The South African cricket team had arrived in England for their summer tour on 29 March f929. The British statesman Sir Austen Chamberlain (1863-1937) had been appointed Conservative Foreign Secretary in 1924. The League of Nations had been formed as a result of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and was headquartered in Geneva, where Chamberlain attended a number of meetings of the League’s Council during the 1920s. For example, according to the Evening Standard of 2 March 1929, ‘Sir Austen Chamberlain left today for Geneva’ (p. 14). The main headline on the front page of the ‘Late Night Final’ edition of the Evening Standard on 26 February 1929 was: ‘WOMEN WHO SHOCK A DIVORCE JUDGE. “Shameless Women.” Mr. Justice Hill’s Comment in a Divorce Case. Doctor to Pay £1000. Co-respondent in Suit Brought by Art Master’. The art master was Herbert John Thompson; Dr Dennis Salmon Page was the co-respondent, and Sarah Ethel Thompson the supposedly ‘utterly shameless woman’. See also The Times (27 February 1929), p. 5, where the divorce case of Thompson v. Thompson and Page was also reported in full: ‘MR. JUSTICE HILL, in summing up, said that the marriage was a happy one until last year, when the co-respondent, who was a friend, came to live in the petitioner’s house in Abbey-road. Last October the wife and the co-respondent were found going off together one night. The wife, being an utterly shameless woman his Lordship supposed, returned the following morning with an hotel bill. If the jury heard many divorce suits they would be astounded at the shamelessness of women about adultery. It quite often happened that a woman supplied the evidence of adultery. It was a shocking thing. It all came of a good many people nowadays treating adultery as a light thing, instead of as


101


Notes


a very beastly act.’ The second chapter of W&F was begun on Wednesday 6 March 1929, just one week after The Times’s report about the ‘Shamelessness of Women’ had appeared. There was a lot of fog around, particularly in the southeast of England, during February and March 1929. On 6 March, for example, The Times’s weather cor¬ respondent reported that ‘Rather dense fog had returned to London, and settled on roofs and trees to form an early display of rime’ (p. 16). The news items about ‘[a] meat axe with human hair on it’ and the ‘suspended actress’ have not been located.

26 Romney George Romney (1734-1802) was a fashionable portrait painter. In the third chapter of The Voyage Out , Clarissa Dalloway is described thus: ‘she was astonishingly like an eighteenth-century mas¬ terpiece - a Reynolds or a Romney. She made Helen and the others look coarse and slovenly beside her’ (VO 40).

26 Z ... She says that men are snobs!” See Rebecca West, ‘The Strange Necessity’ in The Strange Necessity: Essays and Reviews (London: Jonathan Cape, 1928), pp. 13-198; quotation from p. 106: ‘It is regrettably true that while one cannot imagine a Somerville or Newnham don being fluttered at dancing with the Prince of Wales, few of their male colleagues could be trusted not to perceive a certain special glamour about a Duchess. So universal is this tendency among males, not sparing the most intelligent, that a woman of talent has perpetually to reconcile herself to the fact that though she may be as beautiful as Aphrodite and as amusing as Mercury, Lady Mary Binks has already been given the victory over her irrespective of her merits.’ Rebecca West (1892-1983), novelist, critic, essayist and feminist, was the pseudonym of Cicily Isabel Fairfield. She took her pen name from Rosmersholm (1886) by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). In a diary entry of 10 September 1928, Woolf records Desmond MacCarthy’s angry response to West: ‘I was amused to find that when Rebecca West says “men are snobs” she gets an instant rise out of Desmond’ (Dill 195).

27 Supermen and Fingers of Destiny ‘Supermen’ is the conventional Anglicization of ‘Ubermenschen’, a term used by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) in his Also Sprach Zaratlmstra (Thus Spake Zarathustra ; 1883-5), and picked up, for example, by George Bernard Shaw (1856- 1950) in his Man and Superman (written 1903; first performed 1905). The Finger of Destiny was a film of 1914 directed by Charles Raymond.

27 The Czar and the Kaiser ... worn crowns or lost them The last Czar of Russia, Nicholas II (1868-1918), abdicated following the Russian Revolution of 1917; he and his family were executed at Ekaterinburg in 1918. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (1859-1941) abdicated at the end of the First World War. He, in contrast, lived in elegant exile in the Netherlands for the remainder of his life.

27 the drug fiend deprived of his cocaine A cocaine panic had gripped Britain in 1916; it hardly abated with the cessation of hostilities in


102


Notes


1918, and was one of the main factors behind the passing of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920. This legislation and a relative lack of supply led to a reduction in cocaine offences in the 1920s, though sen¬ sational books such as Aleister Crowley’s The Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922) ensured that cocaine’s notoriety lingered long in the public imagination. See Tim Madge, White Mischief: A Cultural History of Cocaine (Edinburgh and London: Mainstream, 2001), pp. 127-33.

27 five shillings and ninepence In pre-decimal currency, there were twenty shillings in a pound and twelve pennies in a shilling.

28 the act was passed that gave votes to women The Representation of the People Act was given royal assent on 6 February 1918, allowing women over 30 the right to vote. The first election to be held with this franchise was the general election of December 1918. Women were not given the same voting rights as men until an expansion of the 1918 Act on 2 July 1928.

28 that one gift which it was death to hide An allusion to Milton’s son¬ net‘On His Blindness’ (1647-53?):

When I consider how my light is spent,

E’re half my days, in this dark world and wide,

And that one Talent which is death to hide,

Lodg’d with me useless, though my Soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker ... ( OBEV 342,11. 1-5).

Great bodies of people ... instincts which are not within their control A reference to Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War (1916; 2nd edition 1919) by Wilfred Trotter (1872-1939). ‘Old Roger [Fry] takes a gloomy view, not of our life, but of the world’s future; but I think I detected the influence of Trotter & the herd, & so I distrusted him’ (D1 80). an eagle ... for ever tearing the liver out Woolf has in mind the eter¬ nal punishment of Prometheus, an immortal Titan who defied the gods by introducing human beings to fire. Bound to a rock, an eagle tore out his liver each day, while each night it would re-grow, only for his torment to begin afresh the following morning. ‘Painters live lives of methodical absorption ... They are not like poets - scapegoats; they are not chained to the rock’ (W 100).

poison gas Both sides resorted to the use of chemicals during the First World War, ranging from tear-gas and chlorine gas to far more powerful weapons, such as dichlorethyl sulphide or ‘mustard gas’ and carbonyl dichloride or phosgene.

Admiralty Arch ‘Built in 1910 to the design of Sir Aston Webb as part of the Queen Victoria memorial scheme, it is the terminal point of The Mall, leading into Trafalgar Square. It comprises three identical deep arches, each with wrought-iron gates’ ( LE 9). Admiralty Arch was completed in 1912.


28


28


29


29


103


Notes


29 statue of the Duke of Cambridge Unveiled in 1907 to honour Field Marshal HRH George, Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904), Commander- in-Chief of the British Army, 1856-95, this equestrian statue was designed by Adrian Jones and stands in Whitehall. In 1897, Woolf had observed the Duke opening the Worthing water works (PA 76). Peter Walsh ‘glare[s] at the statue of the Duke of Cambridge’ as he passes it (MD 39). See Stuart N. Clarke, ‘The Duke of Cambridge’, Virginia Woolf Bulletin, No. 46 (May 2014), pp. 38-45.

29 which Milton recommended for my perpetual adoration Woolf may have in mind the opening stanza of Milton’s ‘On the morning of Christ’s Nativity’ (1629):

This is the month, and this the happy morn Wherein the Son of Heaven’s Eternal King Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,

Our great redemption from above did bring;

For so the holy sages once did sing That He our deadly forfeit should release And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

For the broader context of Woolf’s engagement with ‘Milton’s bogey’, see p. 124 below.

29 my house by the river This is puzzling, as Woolf was living at 52 Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, at this period of her life, and not by the River Thames.

29 adding up the day’s takings with her hands in red mittens Woolf has in mind a woman wearing woollen gloves with the tops of the fingers cut off, rather than mittens per se. Cf. a cashier in Jacob’s Room: ‘Her hands were cased in black mittens, and the finger-tips that drew in the paper slips were swollen as sausages’ (JR 98).

30 Remove that protection ... so much quicker, than men Cf. Julia Hedge in Jacob’s Room: ‘There are more women than men. Yes; but if you let women work as men work, they’ll die off much quicker. They’ll become extinct. That was her argument’ (JR 88).

31 under what conditions women lived ... in the time of Elizabeth Cf. The Life and Works of Lord Macaulay (10 vols; London: Longmans, Green, 1897), vol. vi, ‘Sir William Temple’ (1838), pp. 246-325; quo¬ tation from p. 261: ‘To us surely it is as useful to know how the young ladies of England employed themselves a hundred and eighty years ago, how far their minds were cultivated, what were their favourite studies, what degree of liberty was allowed to them, what use they made of that liberty, what accomplishments they most valued in men, and what proofs of tenderness delicacy permitted them to give to favoured suitors, as to know all about the seizure of Franche Comte and the treaty of Nimeguen.’ Quoted in The Letters of Dorothy


104


Notes


Osborne to 'William Temple, ed. G. C. Moore Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928), p. xlvi, which was reviewed by Woolf in both the New Republic and the Times Literary Supplement in 1928: see EIV 553-9; EIV 605-9.

32 Professor Trevelyan’s History of England ... pages indicated George Macaulay Trevelyan (1876-1962), History of England (London: Longmans, Green, 1926). ‘Women, position of’ in Index, p. 723. The first quotation that follows, from p. 260, has ‘recognized’. The second quotation, from pp. 260-1, has ‘nurse’s’. Trevelyan lectured at Cambridge until 1903, when he left academic life, only to return to Cambridge in 1927 as Regius Professor of Modern History.

32 in the time of the Stuarts ... personality and character I.e., from 1603, when James VI of Scotland ascended the throne of England as James I, until 1714, when Queen Anne died. The Stuart line ended because none of Anne’s eighteen children survived to adulthood. The second quotation from Trevelyan appears on pp. 436-7, which has ‘assigned he ... Seventeenth Century’. The memoirs referred to by Trevelyan are Memoirs of the Verney Family during the Seventeenth Century (1892-9), compiled by Lrances Parthenope, Lady Verney, and Lucy Hutchinson’s life of her regicide husband, Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, written in the late 17th century and first pub¬ lished in 1806.

32 Cleopatra ... Lady Macbeth ... Rosalind Leading characters in Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth and As You Like It, respectively.

32 Clytemnestra, Antigone ... Madame de Guermantes Clytemnestra is the heroine of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon-, Antigone is the eponym of Sophocles’ Antigone, and Phedre of Racine’s Phedre; Cressida takes centre stage in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, while Desdemona is the heroine of Shakespeare’s Othello, and The Duchess of Malfi is a play by John Webster (c.1578-c.1638). Millamant is a character in The Way of the World (1700) by William Congreve (1670-1729), not a ‘prose writer’ as such, but a dramatist who did not write drama in verse. Clarissa Harlowe is the heroine of Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady, published in eight vol¬ umes in 1748-9 by Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), while Becky Sharp is the leading character in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847-8). Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina was published in 1873-7, Gustave Llaubert’s Madame Bovary was first published in 1856, and Madame de Guermantes appears in Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu, published in seven volumes between 1913 and 1927. The first six volumes were translated into English by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and published as Remembrance of Things Past between 1922 and 1931.

33 an Elizabeth, or a Mary Mary 1 reigned 1553-8 and Elizabeth 1 1558-1603.


105


Notes


33 “ It remains a strange ... Hilda Wangel and Rebecca West ?” The quo¬ tation is from F. L. Lucas, Tragedy in Relation to Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’, Hogarth Lectures on Literature, No. 2 (London: Hogarth Press, 1927), pp. 114-15, which has ‘Phsedra’ not ‘Phedre’; ‘Hedda’ not ‘Heda’. There also ellipses after ‘Euripides.’ and ‘exists.’ in the original.

34 Aubrey John Aubrey (1626-97) was an antiquary and Fellow of the Royal Society best known for his posthumous Brief Lives, part pub¬ lished in 1813 and in a near-complete edition in 1898, though both editions were bowdlerised.

34 the influence of the tragedies of Joanna Baillie upon ... Poe Joanna Baillie (1762-1851) was a Scottish poet and dramatist who published several volumes of poetry in her lifetime and was a close friend of Sir Walter Scott, who called her ‘the immortal Joanna’. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49), American poet and short-story writer.

34 the homes and haunts of Mary Russell Mitford On Mitford, see note to p. 3 above. Woolf reviewed Mrs. Gaskell: Haunts, Homes, and Stories by Mrs. Ellis H. Chadwick in September 1910: see El 340-4.

35 old gentleman ...a bishop ... souls of a sort If these were the opin¬ ions of an actual bishop, he has not been traced. See also Woolf’s fol¬ low-up reference (on p. 36) to ‘the deceased bishop, if such he was’.

35 what would have happened ... Judith William Shakespeare did not have a sister called Judith, but he did have a daughter of that name (1584-1662), twin of Hamnet. Dorothy Dodge Robbins speculates as to why Woolf chose the name Judith in her ‘Naming Shakespeare’s Sister: Why Woolf Chose Judith’, Names, 58, No. 3 (September 2010), pp. 150-8. Cf. ‘What has humanity not lost by the suppression and subjection of the weaker sex by the muscularly stronger sex alone? We have a Shakespeare; but what of the possible Shakespeares we might have had, who passed their life from youth upward brewing currant wine and making pastries for fat country squires to eat, with no glimpse of the freedom of life and action, necessary even to poach on deer in the green forests, stifled out without one line written, simply because, being of the weaker sex, life gave no room for action and grasp on life? ...What statesmen, what rulers and leaders, what crea¬ tive intelligences have been lost to humanity, because there has been no free trade in the powers and gifts of the muscularly smaller and weaker sex.’ (Olive Schreiner, From Man to Man: Or Perhaps Only ... (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1926), pp. 219-20. Olive Schreiner (b.1855) had died six years before the publication of her novel.

35 Ovid, Virgil and Horace Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-AD 17), Roman poet and author of, among other works, the Ars amatoria and Metamorphoses; Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BC), Roman poet and author of the Eclogues, Georgies and the Aeneid; Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65-8 BC), Roman poet and author of, among other works, the Epodes, Odes, Satires and the Ars poetica.


106


Notes


35 wool-stapler A dealer in wool, which would be bought from a farmer, graded, and then sold on to manufacturers. A ‘staple’ was a market.

36 poodles dancing and women acting Another allusion to Johnson’s derogatory comment about women preachers. See note to p. 22 above. On the Renaissance stage, women’s roles were typically played by men and often by boys.

36 Nick Greene In Orlando (1928), Nicholas (Nick) Greene is first a writer, then later a severe literary critic who survives from the Renaissance through to the present day. The name may have been inspired by the dramatist and pamphleteer Robert Greene (1558-92).

36 buried at some cross-roads Up until 1823, when the practice was made illegal, suicides and executed criminals were traditionally buried at crossroads.

36 the Elephant and Castle ‘A traffic junction since at least the 17th century, because the roads to Kennington, Walworth and Lambeth met here. In the mid-18th century the volume of traffic was greatly increased by the building of Blackfriars Bridge, the New Kent Road and the London Road’ (LE 268). Now comprising a number of major road junctions, Elephant and Castle in the London Borough of Southwark remains one of the city’s most congested traffic hot spots.

36 Emily Bronte or a Robert Burns Woolf wrote about Emily Bronte, whose only novel was Wuthering Eleights (1848), on a number of occasions, and in Three Guineas , having quoted her poem ‘No coward soul is mine’, she describes Bronte as ‘the spiritual descendant of some ancient prophetess’ (TG 113). The Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759— 96) was mainly educated by his impoverished, self-educated, tenant- farmer father. For Woolf and Burns, see Jane Goldman, Burns Night/ Woolf Supper: Birthday Thoughts on Virginia Woolf and Scotland (Southport: Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, 2013).

36 a witch being ducked Used exclusively against women, the ordeal of the ducking-stool was a common torture in the middle ages designed to extract confessions of guilt from alleged witches, prostitutes and scolds. It involved immersion in water, the number of duckings being dependent on the whim of the operator and the perceived seriousness of the woman’s alleged crime.

36 some mute and inglorious ‘Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest’: 1. 59 of ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ (1751) by Thomas Gray (1716-71).

37 Anon For Woolf’s late reflections on the role of ‘Anon’ in English literature, see EVI 581-99.

37 Edward Fitzgerald ... the ballads and the folk-songs Edward Fitzgerald (1809-83) was the author of a loose and extremely popular translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that first appeared, anonymously, in 1859. If he did make a comment about women being


107


Notes


the creators of ballads and folk-songs, it has not been traced. Cf. ‘[Ballads] were the property of the people, not of a limited class or guild of entertainers. A great number of them (among all nations) have been derived from women, - the most stationary part of the commu¬ nity and the farthest removed, by every instinct and habit, from the roving and irresponsible professionalism which characterizes the min¬ strel.’ Introduction, Francis James Child, Helen Child Sargent and George Lyman Kittredge, eds., English and Scottish Popular Ballads (London: Harrap, n.d. [1904]), pp. xi-xxxi; quotation from p. xxii.

37 Currer Bell, George Eliot, George Sand... the name of a man ‘Currer Bell’ was the pseudonym under which Charlotte Bronte first published her work. As noted above (p. 84), the real name of‘George Eliot’ was Mary Ann (later Marian) Evans. ‘George Sand’ was the pen-name of Armandine-Aurore-Lucille Dudevant, nee Dupin (1804-76).

37 the chief glory of a woman ... Pericles ‘And, if I am to speak of wom¬ anly virtues to those of you who will now be widows, let me sum them up in one short admonition: “Your glory will be great if you show no more than the infirmities of your nature, a glory that consists in being least the subjects of report among men, for good or evil”.’ (‘The Funeral Speech’ [of Pericles], from Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars, trans. Benjamin Jowett, revised by P. A. Brunt (Chalfont St. Giles: Richard Sadler and Brown, 1966), Book II, pp. 65-72; quota¬ tion from p. 72). Pericles was an Athenian statesman and orator (c.495-429 BC).

38 Ce chien est a moi Blaise Pascal (1623-62), Pensees (Section v, No. 295): ‘ Mine, thine. - “This dog is mine,” said those poor children; “that is my place in the sun.” Here is the beginning and the image of the usurpation of all the earth.’ The original French version of this quotation - ‘Ce chien est a moi, disaient ces pauvre enfants; c’est la ma place au soleil. - Voila le commencement et l’image de 1’usurpation de toute la terre.’ - is given a page to itself in Leonard Woolf, Empire and Commerce in Africa (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1920), p. viii. See also Jane Goldman, “‘Ce chien est a moi”: Virginia Woolf and the Signifying Dog’, Woolf Studies Annual, 13 (2007), pp. 49-86.

38 Parliament Square, the Sieges Allee ‘Laid out by Sir Charles Barry in 1868 as a suitable approach to his Houses of Parliament... [Parliament Square] has long and unsuitably been a favourite site for statues of statesmen and soldiers. Commemorated are Lords Derby and Palmerston, Canning, Peel and Disraeli, Field-Marshal Smuts, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln’ (LE 626). Siegesallee (Victory Avenue), Berlin, was first laid out in 1873 after the German victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1). In 1895, Kaiser Wilhelm II commissioned 96 marble statues of Prussian royals (all male) and their advisers (all male) to adorn its route. These statues had all been set in place by 1901.


108


Notes


38 Shakespeare ... “never blotted a line ” A claim made by Ben Jonson (1572/3-1637). In ‘Of Judging Poets and Poetry’, in Timber, or Discoveries Made upon Men and Matter (1641), Jonson recalled that‘the Players often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare that in his writing, (whatsoever he penn’d) hee never blotted out line.’ See Ben Jonson, The Poems and Prose Works, ed. C. H. Herford and Percy and Evelyn Simpson, Complete Works of Ben Jonson (11 vols; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925-52), vol. viii (1947), pp. 556-649; quotation from p. 583.

38 Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), Swiss writer and philo¬ sopher and author, among many other works, of Confessions, the foundational text of modern autobiography, published posthumously in 1782-9.

38 what Carlyle went through ... indifference of the world Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish historian, biographer and social com¬ mentator, whose History of the French Revolution appeared in 1837. When he had drafted the first volume of it, Carlyle sent it to John Stuart Mill for his comments, but while it was in Mill’s possession one of his housemaids destroyed Carlyle’s draft by using it as a fire-lighter. He had no choice but to re-write his history from scratch. The French novelist Gustave Flaubert (1821-80) was intensely fastidious about the language of Madame Bovary, yet the novel was condemned as obscene on its appearance in 1857. John Keats (1795-1821) recorded his thoughts about dying and critical hostility to his work in a number of letters and in his last poems.

39 “ Mighty poets in their misery dead ” From William Wordsworth (1770-1850),‘Resolution and Independence’ (1807), stanza 17,1. 116.

39 a sound-proof room In 1853, Carlyle had a soundproof room con¬ structed in the attic of his house on London’s Cheyne Row in order to work undisturbed by the noise of his neighbours and neighbourhood. It was not a success: ‘Up in the attic under a skylight Carlyle groaned, as he wrestled with his history, on a horse-hair chair, while a yellow shaft of London light fell upon his papers and the rattle of a barrel organ and the raucous shouts of street hawkers came through walls whose double thickness distorted but by no means excluded the sound’ (EV 295). Carlyle’s House was first opened to the public in 1895, and Woolf visited it on a number of occasions: see, e.g.,‘Carlyle’s House’ (PA 415-16).

39 ordinary milk ... bold and big Milk grades were first introduced dur¬ ing the First World War, when food supplies were strictly controlled. The Milk and Dairies (Amendment) Act of 1922 specified five grades of milk: Certified and Grade A (Tuberculin Tested), which were both raw grades of milk, and Grade A, Grade A (Pasteurised), and Pasteurised, which were all treated by heat. Most milk suppliers pro¬ duced Grade A milk, but as it was more expensive to produce and


109


Notes


purchase than ‘ordinary milk’, consumer demand for it was sluggish, resulting in the need to promote its health benefits through advertise¬ ments and the kind of experiment Woolf witnessed. We have not been able to identify the ‘dairy company’ concerned or where or when this experiment may have taken place. See W. Clunie Harvey and Harry Hill, Milk Production and Control (London: Lewis, 1936), pp. 278-86.

39 Harley Street A street in central London renowned for its medical specialists. It is where Sir William Bradshaw has his consulting rooms in Mrs. Dalloway (MD 71).

40 Mr. Oscar Browning ... and most high-minded The first quotation is from H. E. Wortham, Victorian Eton and Cambridge: Being the Life and Times of Oscar Browning (London: Constable, 1927), p. 187. The second is from pp. 246-7, which has “‘that’s’” rather than “‘That’s’”. See also The Pargiters, ed. Leaska, p. 129: ‘Oscar Browning ... thought that the lowest man is intellectually the superior of the cleverest woman’.

40 Mr. Greg ... minister to, men” In her April 1927 review of Barbara Stephen’s Emily Davies and Girton College, Woolf quoted from an essay by W. R. Greg (1809-91) entitled ‘Why are Women Redundant?’: ‘Mr. Greg, underlining his words, wrote that “the essentials of a wom¬ an’s being are that they are supported by, and they minister to, men’” (EIV 420). This quotation is found in Stephen 7, but without the words ‘are that’.

40 The woman composer Woolf was not yet a close friend of the com¬ poser and former suffragette Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), but she had certainly read Smyth’s memoir Impressions that Remained (1919) in the year of its publication; reviewed another of her books in 1921 (EIII 297-301); and had attended a performance of Smyth’s opera The Wreckers in 1909. See also DII 341.

40 A Survey of Contemporary Music, Cecil Gray, p. 246 Woolf is quot¬ ing from Cecil Gray, A Survey of Contemporary Music (London: Humphrey Milford at Oxford University Press, 1924), pp. 245-6. Gray has ‘music:’ rather than ‘music.’. The sentence that immediately follows on from Woolf’s quotation reads: ‘Considered apart from her sex, her [Germaine Tailleferre’s] music is wholly negligible’ (p. 246). Gray’s wording and pagination remained unchanged in the second edi¬ tion of his book, published in 1927. Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983) was a French pianist and composer and the only female member of the group of composers known as Les Six when it was formed in 1919-20. She was born Marcelle Taillefesse, but, as a young woman, she changed her name in revenge for her father’s opposition to her musical studies at the Paris Conservatoire, where she had developed into a prodigious pianist. See Robert Shapiro, Germaine Tailleferre: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press, 1994.


110


Notes


41 Lady Bessborongb ... (if she is ask’d).” Lord Granville Leveson- Gower (1st Earl Granville), Private Correspondence, 1781-1821, ed. by his daughter-in-law, Castalia, Countess Granville (2 vols; London: John Murray, 1916), vol. i, p. 218, which has: ‘opinion ... if she is ask’d’.

41 one now pastes in a book labelled cock-a-doodle-dum In Women & Fiction, there is a more extended analysis of ‘this Cock-a-doodling’ of male authors ( W&F 162). The collection of such material anticipates Woolf’s approach when planning what became Three Guineas. See Brenda R. Silver, Virginia Woolf’s Reading Notebooks (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983).

41 Keats ... the ivords ... on his tombstone ‘Here Lies One Whose Name Was Writ in Water’ were the only words that Keats wished to have inscribed on his headstone, but his close friends, Joseph Severn and Charles Browne, added others, including a gloss to the effect that the inscription had arisen from ‘the Bitterness of his heart, at the Malicious Power of his Enemies’, which Severn and Browne later came to regret. Keats is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.

41 Think of Tennyson In ‘Reviewing’ (1939), Woolf wrote about ‘the sensitive Tennyson’: ‘Not only did he alter his poems at the reviewer’s [John Gibson Lockhart, 1794-1854] bidding, but actually contem¬ plated emigration; and was thrown, according to one biographer, into such despair by the hostility of reviewers that his state of mind for a whole decade, and thus his poetry, was changed by them’ (EVI 196). See also ‘Lockhart’s Criticism’ (1931), in which Woolf writes of this reviewer’s treatment of both Keats (‘He tried to snuff out between finger and thumb one of the immortal lights of English literature.’) and Tennyson, whom Woolf said Lockhart ‘bullied with unchastened insolence’ (EV 241-7; quotations from pp. 243, 244).

42 Donne John Donne (1572-1631), English poet and clergyman, later Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

43 a monster Cf. Stephen 13: ‘it is no exaggeration of language to say that the popular idea of a well educated woman was, that she was a ridiculous monster.’

43 Lady Winchilsea Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, published one collection of poetry in her lifetime, in 1713, but her verse was brought to a wider public with the publication of Poems by Anne, Countess of Winchilsea 1661-1720, selected with an introductory essay by John Middleton Murry (London: Jonathan Cape, 1928). The first three quotations from her poems are taken from her ‘The Introduction’ (pp. 24-5). Woolf omits the line ‘Such an intruder on the rights of men’ after ‘Alas! a woman that attempts the pen’. Woolf’s next four quotations are from Finch’s ‘The Spleen’ (pp. 58-9). In the second, Murry has ‘jonquil’ for Woolf’s ‘jonquille’.


Ill


Notes

44 praised by Mr. Murray He applauds Finch’s ‘two astonishing lines from “The Spleen’” (p. 14).

44 Pope, it is thought, remembered and appropriated See Murry, p. 15: ‘It has been already noticed ... that Pope borrowed the phrase for his famous line: “Die of a rose in aromatic pain.” But what I suspect is that Pope’s line came wholly from “The Spleen’”. See Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle I (1733), 1. 200. See also ‘Walter Sickert: A Conversation’ (1934) for Woolf’s use of the phrase ‘aromatic pain’ (£VI 38), and Woolf’s postcard to her nephew Julian Bell of 5 April 1934: ‘For Heavens sake tell me where does “Die like a rose in aro¬ matic pain” come from? Pope? And what is the right quotation?’ (LV 288; £VI 49).

45 Pope or Gay ... “uninteresting”. See Murry (p. 11), who has ‘the itch’ rather than Woolf’s ‘an itch’.

45 she became diffuse, Mr. Murry says ‘She is inclined to be diffuse, to add touch after touch, forgetful of her main design’ (Murry, p. 17).

45 Duchess whom Lamb loved ... Margaret of Newcastle Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-73), author of Poems and Fancies (1653) and many other works, is described by Charles Lamb in his essay entitled ‘Mackery End, in Hertfordshire’ as the ‘somewhat fantastical, and original-brain’d, generous Margaret Newcastle’. He makes further complimentary remarks about her in other essays, such as ‘A Complaint of the Decay of Beggars in the Metropolis’. Woolf reviewed a biography of the Newcastles in 1911 (£1 345-51) and devoted an essay to the Duchess’s character and writings in The Common Reader (£IV 81-91): ‘Garish in her dress, eccentric in her habits, chaste in her conduct, coarse in her speech, she succeeded dur¬ ing her lifetime in drawing upon herself the ridicule of the great and the applause of the learned’ (quotation from p. 81).

46 Open the Duchess ... die like Worms From Orations of Divers Sorts, Accommodated to Divers Places, Written by the thrice Noble, Illustrious and Excellent Princess, the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle (London: 1662), Part XI, no. I ‘Female Orations’, p. 226, which does not have ‘Women’, but has: ‘Live like Bats or Owls, Labour like Beasts, and Dye like Worms.’ Woolf quoted these words in The Common Reader (£IV 84).

46 Sir Egerton Brydges ... in the Courts ” The literary historian and genealogist Sir Egerton Brydges (1762-1837) makes his comment in These Select Poems of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, ed. Sir Egerton Brydges (Privately printed: The Press of Lee Priory, Kent, 1813), p. [ix], which has: ‘in courts’ rather than ‘in the Courts’. In ‘The Duchess of Newcastle’ (1925), Woolf noted that her subject’s lan¬ guage ‘much perturbed Sir Egerton Brydges. She used, he complained, “expressions and images of extraordinary coarseness as flowing from a female of high rank brought up in courts”. He forgot that this


112


Notes


particular female had long ceased to frequent the Court; she consorted chiefly with fairies; and her friends were among the dead. Naturally, then, her language was coarse’ (£IV 87).

46 Welbeck Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, the imposing stately home of the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, where she died in 1673.

46 giant encumber ... choked them to death Cf. Orlando: ‘Wherever he

looked, vegetation was rampant. Cucumbers “came scrolloping across the grass to his feet.” Giant cauliflowers towered deck above deck till they rivalled, to his disordered imagination, the elm trees themselves’ (O 131).

46 “ the best bred women ... whose minds are civilesf’ In Letter 26 of

her CCXI Sociable Letters (London, 1664), Cavendish writes that ‘those women are best bred, whose minds are civilest as being well taught and govern’d, for the mind will be wild and barbarous, unless it be enclosed with study, instructed by learning, and governed by knowledge and understanding ...’ Quoted in Margaret Cavendish, ‘Bell in Campo’ and ‘The Sociable Companions’ , ed. Alexandra G. Bennett (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview, 2002), pp. 221-3; quota¬ tion from p. 222.

46 Dorothy Osborne’s letters ... not come to that." See The Letters of Dorothy Osborne to 'William Temple, ed. G. C. Moore Smith (1928), Letter 17 [14 April 1653], p. 37, which has: ‘she ... If’.

47 After dinner wee sitt ... wish you with mee. ...” Letters of Dorothy Orborne, Letter 24 [2-4 June 1653], pp. 51-2, which has: ‘M r B ... shade’.

47 Mrs. Behn Aphra Behn (1640-89), dramatist, poet and novelist, whose most celebrated work is Oroonoko, or The History of the Royal Slave (c.1688). In the words of Vita Sackville-West,‘The impor¬ tance of Aphra Behn is that she was the first woman in England to earn her living by her pen’ (V. Sackville-West, Aphra Behn: The Incomparable Astrea (London: Gerald Howe, 1927), p. 12). Anne Greenfield has argued that Woolf’s knowledge of Behn is entirely derived from this source: see Anne Greenfield, ‘Letting Only a Few Flowers Fall upon her Tomb: Virginia Woolf and Aphra Behn’, Virginia Woolf Bulletin, No. 30 (January 2009), pp. 20-32.

47 “A thousand Martyrs ...or “Love in Fantastic Triumph sat ” Both poems are reprinted in the fourth chapter of Sackville-West’s Aphra Behn, pp. 82-3, and in OBEV 480-1. In the second poem, both ver¬ sions have ‘sate’ rather than ‘sat’.

47 the value that men set upon women’s chastity ... their education Cf. Madame Mohl (1793-1883): ‘what girls ought to learn is, not Latin, but how to live; but how are they to learn this? Always watched, always kept in leading strings, they are ... children at thirty. ... It is not the fault of nature, but that of men, who require of them only one


113


Notes


virtue, and the proof of this is that that one quality only goes by the name of virtue in women’ (quoted in Stephen 10).

48 Lady Dudley ... for ever after See the obituary of Georgina Ward, Countess of Dudley (1846-1929) in The Times (4 February 1929), p. 17 (‘Georgina Lady Dudley. A Great Lady and her Work’), which has ‘cultured taste’ not ‘cultivated taste’; ‘insisted on’ not ‘insisted upon’; and ‘shooting lodge’ not ‘shooting-lodge’. Her husband, the Earl of Dudley, had died in 1885.

48 Charing Cross Road ‘The road is famous ... for its bookshops. The best known of these are Zwemmer’s at Nos 76-80, Foyle’s, Dillons and Waterstones ... At No 84 once stood Marks and Co.’s bookshop’ (LE 149).

48 Marlowe ... Chaucer Christopher Marlowe (1564-93), dramatist and poet; Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1340-1400), poet and author of The Canterbury Tales.

49 Eliza Carter ... and learn Greek Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806) was a scholar and poet and one of the original ‘Blue Stockings’, an infor¬ mal group of sociable women intellectuals that flourished in the latter half of the 18th century. The subject of a 1906 review entitled ‘The Bluest of the Blue’ (£1 112—14), Woolf wrote of Carter: ‘To conquer sleep she had a bell tied to the head of her bedstead to which a string was attached, leading through a “crevasse” in her window to the gar¬ den below. At four or five in the morning a friendly sexton tolled the bell, Elizabeth sprang from her bed and worked at her books till six’ (p. 113).

49 the tomb of Apbra Behn ... in "Westminster Abbey Behn’s grave is not in Poets’ Corner, but in the east cloister of the Abbey.

49 “ supreme head of song ” From ‘Ave atque Vale (In Memory of

Charles Baudelaire)’ by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), stanza 2,1. 7 (OBEV 983). The Greek lyric poet Sappho was born in the late 7th century BC on the island of Lesbos, and Swinburne trans¬ lated a number of her hymns and love poems. Mrs. Flushing reads Swinburne’s translation of Sappho’s ‘Ode to Aphrodite’ with avidity in The Voyage Out (VO 218). In a letter of 1 January [1930], Woolf argued that ‘Sappho was not a unique writer but supported by many other poetesses. That I think until the late eighteenth century was never the case in England’ (LIV 123).

49 Did not Charlotte Bronte fail entirely to understand fane Austen? Charlotte Bronte told the prominent literary critic George Henry Lewes (1817-78) in 1848: ‘I had not seen “Pride & Prejudice” ... then I got the book and studied it. And what did I find? An accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a common-place face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden with neat borders and delicate flowers - but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy - no open country - no fresh air - no blue hill - no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her


114


Notes


ladies and gendemen in their elegant but confined houses. These observations will probably irritate you, but I shall run the risk’ ( The Letters of Charlotte Bronte, ed. Margaret Smith (3 vols; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995-2004), vol. ii (2000), p. 10.

49 Miss Emily Davies ... a single sitting-room between them Emily Davies (1830-1921) was a feminist and educational reformer who founded what was to become Girton College, Cambridge, in 1873. See Stephen: ‘Daughters at home were expected to spend their days all in the same room (and families were large in those days)’ (p. 9 note 3); ‘It is usual for the whole family to congregate in one room, everyone carrying on her individual occupation in suspense, so to speak, liable to be called off from it for something else, trifling or important, as the case may be’ (p. 30).

49 Miss Nightingale ... she was always interrupted Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). See ‘Cassandra’ in Ray Strachey, The Cause: A Short History of the Women’s Movement in Great Britain (London: Bell, 1928), p. 402, which has ‘Women ... an half-hour’. See also Stephen 251 note 1: ‘Miss Nightingale has said, in her forcible way, that she has never known persons who exposed themselves for years to constant interruption who did not muddle away their intellects by it at last.’

49 Memoir of ]ane Austen ... See J. E. Austen Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen, 2nd edition (1870; London: Richard Bentley, 1871), p. 96, which has ‘retire to’ not ‘repair to’; ‘servants,’ not ‘servants’; and ‘visi¬ tors,’ not ‘visitors’.

51 “ Anybody may blame me who likes” ... Grace Poole’s laugh In

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1847), Grace Poole is charged with looking after the secreted Bertha Rochester; it is Bertha’s tormented laugh, rather than Grace Poole’s, that Jane sometimes hears. Adele Varens is Jane’s young charge, and Alice Fairfax is the housekeeper of Thornfield Hall. Woolf is quoting, with a little less than total accuracy, from near the beginning of Chapter XII of the novel.

51 that indignation ... She will write in a rage where she should write calmly Of Villette (1853), Matthew Arnold wrote to A. H. Clough on 21 March 1853: ‘Miss Bronte has written a hideous undelightful convulsed constricted novel... It is one of the most utterly disagreeable books I ever read ... and having seen her makes it more so. She is so entirely ... a fire without aliment - one of the most distressing sights one can witness.’ Shortly afterwards, on 14 April, Arnold told Jane Arnold Forster: ‘Why is Villette so disagreeable? Because the writer’s mind contains nothing but hunger rebellion and rage ...’ ( The Letters of Matthew Arnold, ed. Cecil Y. Lang (6 vols; Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1996-2001), vol. i, pp. 258 and 262 respectively.

52 George Eliot ... St. John’s Wood St. John’s Wood is the district of north London where, from 1854, George Eliot lived with the critic


115


Notes


George Henry Lewes without being married to him. Lewes was unable to obtain a divorce from his wife.

52 “I wish it to be understood ... from what is called the world ” See J. W. Cross, George Eliot’s Life as Related in her Letters and journals (3 vols; London: Blackwood, ‘Cabinet Edition’, [1886]), vol. i, p. 368 (George Eliot to Caroline Bray, 5 June 1857), which has ‘any one’ not ‘anyone’; and vol. ii, p. 250 (Eliot to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 1 April 1861). Both extracts are quoted by Woolf in her ‘George Eliot’ essay of 1919 (EIV 170-81; quoted on pp. 173-4) and she alludes to the former in ‘Women and Fiction’ (£V 28-36; see p. 31).

52 the Priory ... War and Peace The Priory was the name of the house at 21 North Bank, St. John’s Wood, where George Eliot lived with Lewes. Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) published War and Peace between 1865 and 1869.

53 domed like the Cathedral of Saint Sofia ... human being to human being The domed basilica of Hagia Sophia was completed in 537AD. Woolf visited Constantinople (now Istanbul) and toured the cathedral in 1906. Cf. the scene in ‘The Window’ where Lily Briscoe leans her head on Mrs. Ramsay’s knee: ‘How then, she had asked herself, did one know one thing or another thing about people, sealed as they were? Only like a bee, drawn by some sweetness or sharpness in the air intangible to touch or taste, one haunted the dome-shaped hive ...’ (TL 46). See also: ‘At this hour [7a.m.] the mist would lie so thick that the domes of Santa Sofia and the rest would seem to be afloat; gradu¬ ally the mist would uncover them; the bubbles would be seen to be firmly fixed ...’ (O 70).

55 “[She] has a metaphysical purpose ... more materialistic .” See the anonymous short notice of Matrix by Dorothy Wellesley (1889-1956), Hogarth Living Poets, 1st Series, No. 3 (London: Hogarth Press, 1928), in Criterion, 7, No. 4 (June 1928), p. 160. See also Brenda R. Silver, Virginia Woolf’s Reading Notebooks (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 87 (XIV, B9).

55 “If like the reporter ... accomplished See the review of Another Country by H. du Coudray, Life and Letters, 1, No. 3 (August 1928), pp. 221-2, by Peter Quennell (1905-93); the closing parenthesis should precede the ellipsis. Woolf omits the original’s reference to her¬ self: ‘Jane Austen and, in our own time, Mrs. Virginia Woolf have demonstrated ...’. See Introduction, p. xix.

56 Browne ... De Quincey Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82); John Henry Newman (1801-90); Laurence Sterne (1713-68); Charles Dickens (1812-70); Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859). Woolf was especially drawn to the writings of Browne and De Quincey. Orlando browses amongst Browne’s writings (O 44-6), and so does Woolf in ‘Reading’ (1919) (EIII 141-61); for De Quincey, see ‘“Impassioned Prose’” (1926) (EIV 361-9).


116


Notes


56 The ape is too distant to be sedulous R. L. Stevenson described his literary apprenticeship: ‘I have played the sedulous ape to Hazlitt, to Lamb, to Wordsworth (‘A College Magazine’ in Memories and Portraits (London: Chatto and Windus, 1887), p. 59).

56 Balzac Honore de Balzac (1799-1850), French novelist.

56 “ The grandeur of their works ... habit facilitates success .” William

Hazlitt (1778-1830), discussing ‘the works of the great painters’ in his essay ‘On Application to Study’; Hazlitt has ‘generation’ where Woolf has ‘generations’. See The Plain Speaker , Essay VI, in The Selected Writings of William Hazlitt, ed. Duncan Wu (9 vols; London: Pickering and Chatto, 1998), vol. viii, pp. 51-60; quotation from p. 55.

56 Gibbon Edward Gibbon (1737-94), historian and author of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88).

57 “ the novel” (I give it inverted commas ... inadequacy) Cf. ‘I’m glad to be quit this time of writing “a novel” [Orlando]; & hope never to be accused of it again’ (Dill 185).

58 Jane Harrison’s ... Bell’s books on Persia Greek archaeology was the subject on which Harrison first focused after graduating from Cambridge, especially Greek vase painting, and her first books, The Odyssey in Art and Literature (1882) and Introductory Studies in Greek Art (1885), reflect this interest. ‘Vernon Lee’ was the pseudonym of Violet Paget (1856-1935), novelist, critic and aesthetician. Woolf reviewed two of her books, one in 1908 and another in 1909 (see £1 157-9 and £1 277-80). Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) was an archaeolo¬ gist and travel writer whose specialisms were the Middle East and Persia. In Three Guineas Woolf briefly discusses Bell as an example of the way Victorian patriarchal attitudes restricted women (TG 72). Bell’s Safar Nameh. Persian Pictures: A Book of Travel (1894) was reprinted in 1928, and a further edition was published in 1937 intro¬ duced by Vita Sackville-West. Her letters were published in 1927.

58 Life’s Adventure ... by Mary Carmichael Mary Carmichael is one of the women mentioned in the ballad in the first chapter of A Room (see note to p. 4 above), but it is also a close approximation to ‘Marie Carmichael’, the pseudonym used by the prominent advocate of birth control and campaigner for women’s rights Marie Stopes (1880-1958) when she published a novel, Love’s Creation, in 1928. But Woolf does not have Stopes in mind at this point in the book, and the discussion that follows is of an imaginary novel, not Stopes’.

59 a burning brand Cf. Zachariah 3:2 ‘is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’

59 “unhanding” herself I.e., taking her hands off herself, meaning, in this instance, seemingly exercising insufficient stylistic control by allowing her writing to become too terse and abrasive.

59 Emma and Mr. Woodhouse Emma Woodhouse and her father are characters in Jane Austen’s Emma (1816).


117


Notes


59 switchback railway ... swerves up again As Woolf may well have experienced herself on the huge switchback railway, known as The Grand National, that was installed at the vast British Empire Exhibition of 1924-5: see ‘Thunder at Wembley’ (£111 410-14).

60 Sir Chartres Biron ... ivomen do like women Sir Chartres Biron (1863-1940) was the Chief Magistrate of Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and so presided at the 1928 trial against the publisher Jonathan Cape when The Well of Loneliness (1928) by Radclyffe Hall, the pseu¬ donym of Marguerite Antonia Radclyffe-Hall (1880-1943), was pros¬ ecuted for obscenity. The trial opened on 9 November 1928 with a defence based on the literary merit of the book and its serious treat¬ ment of lesbianism. Woolf was one of about forty supporters who turned up at court: see Dill 206-7. Passing judgement on 16 November, Biron declared the novel obscene and it was banned.

60 Cleopatra did not like Octavia Shakespeare probably wrote Antony and Cleopatra around 1606. Mark Antony, a great Roman soldier, grows ever more besotted with the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. He returns to Rome and marries Octavia, but then leaves her and goes back to Egypt, Cleopatra and his doom. The two women never meet in the play.

60 two women ... Diana of the Crossways In this novel by George Meredith (1828-1909), published in 1885, the heroine, Diana Warwick, devotes herself to her friend Lady Dunstane during the lat¬ ter’s dangerous illness. Diana of the Crossways was released as a film in 1922.

60 Racine The French dramatist Jean Racine (1639-99) was the author of such tragedies as Berenice (1670), Iphigenie (1674) and Phedre (1677).

61 They shared a laboratory together At this point in the manuscript Woolf originally intended to allude to The Well of Loneliness trial: “‘Chloe liked Olivia: they shared a —”<the words came at>the bot¬ tom of the page; the pages had stuck; while fumbling to open them there flashed into my mind the inevitable policeman; the summons; the order to attend the court; the dreary waiting; the Magistrate com¬ ing in with a little bow; the glass of water; the counsel for the prosecu¬ tion; for the defense; the verdict; this book is called obscene; & flames rising, perhaps on Tower Hill, as they consumed < that > masses of print paper. Here the pages came apart. Heaven be praised! It was only a laboratory’ (W&F 114).

61 mincing liver ... pernicious ancemia In November 1928, Woolf described her young cousin Janet Vaughan (a model, perhaps, for Peggy in The Years) as ‘an attractive woman; competent; disinterested, taking blood tests all day to solve some abstract problem’ (Dill 206). A physiologist and later Principal (1945-67) of Somerville College, Oxford, Dame Janet Vaughan (1899-1993) recalled that in the course


118


Notes


of investigating liver extract as a cure for pernicious anaemia, she bor¬ rowed a mincing machine from Woolf, who was fascinated by her work and wanted to know more about what she was doing (‘Some Bloomsbury Memories’, Charleston Newsletter, No. 12 (September 1985), p. 21).

61 no Caesar ... no Jaques Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was probably written in 1599. Brutus is the antagonist of Caesar, whereas Jaques is a notable character in Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It (1600).

62 Columbus ... Newton discovered the laws of gravitation The encounters of the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus (c.1451- 1506) with the Caribbean and the Americas paved the way for Spanish colonization of the ‘New World’. Isaac Newton (1643-1727) claimed that observing an apple fall from a tree leant impetus to his formula¬ tion of the theory of gravity.

62 Sir Hawley Butts ... Burke or Debrett Sir Hawley Butts appears to be imaginary, but Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage, founded in 1769, and Burke’s Peerage, founded in 1826, remain the definitive guides to the genealogy and heraldry of the Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Landed Gentry of the United Kingdom and of other prominent fami¬ lies worldwide. Debrett’s also has a long tradition of publishing guides to social etiquette.

63 Whitaker ...or the University Calendar Published yearly since 1868, Whitaker’s Almanac includes a Table of Precedency as well as a vast array of data about the workings of the state and other facts about the United Kingdom (see TG 44 and DV 125). The calendars of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are still published annually.

63 Cowper and Shelley and Voltaire William Cowper (1731-1800), poet and author of The Task (1785) and ‘The Castaway’ (written 1799, published 1803); Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), author of Adonais (1821) and many other poems; Voltaire was the pen name of Frangois-Marie d’Arouet (1694-1778), whose most famous work is Candide (1759).

63 Sir William Joynson Hicks William Joynson-Hicks (1865-1932), uni¬ versally known as ‘Jix’, was ennobled as Viscount Brentford in 1929. He was Conservative Home Secretary from 1924 to 1929, and so played a key role in banning The Well of Loneliness (see note to p. 60 above). An evangelical churchman and leading figure in the Prayer Book Society, Jix was satirised by Woolf and E. M. Forster in a protest letter of September 1928 to the Nation and Athenceum-. ‘The subject-matter of the book \The Well] exists as a fact among the many other facts of life. It is recog¬ nized by science and recognizable in history ... novelists in England have now been forbidden to mention it by Sir W. Joynson-Hicks. May they mention it incidentally? Although it is forbidden as a main theme, may it be alluded to, or ascribed to subsidiary characters? Perhaps the Home Secretary will issue further orders on this point’ (quoted £V 38-9).


119


Notes


63 the door of drawing-room or nursery ... and his own Cf. the com¬ ment of Richard Dalloway in The Voyage Out: ‘I never allow my wife to talk politics ... For this reason. It is impossible for human beings ... both to fight and to have ideals. If I have preserved mine ... it is due to the fact that I have been able to come home to my wife in the even¬ ing and to find that she has spent her day in calling, music, play with the children, domestic duties’ (VO 58); and the following description of Mr. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse: ‘It was sympathy he wanted, to be assured of his genius, first of all, and then to be taken within the circle of life, warmed and soothed, to have his senses restored to him, his barrenness made fertile, and all the rooms of the house made full of life - the drawing-room; behind the drawing-room the kitchen; above the kitchen the bedrooms; and beyond them the nurseries; they must be furnished, they must be filled with life’ (TL 34-5).

63 Every Johnson has his Thrale ... “as if gone out” Hester Lynch Thrale (1741-1821), diarist and poet, was an intimate friend of Samuel Johnson, but their friendship collapsed as a result of her marriage to Gabriel Piozzi (1740-1809), an Italian musician. Her home was in Streatham, a district of south London. The conclusion of the inscrip¬ tion, by Carlyle, on the bronze plaque affixed to the grave of his wife, Jane Baillie Welsh Carlyle (1801-66), in St. Mary’s Church, Haddington, Scotland, reads: ‘She died at London, 21 st April 1866; suddenly snatched away from him, and the light of his life as if gone out.’

65 the battle of Balaclava ... birth of King Edward the Seventh The Battle of Balaclava was a significant engagement of the Crimean War (1853-6) and was fought in 1854 between Britain and her allies (France, Sardinia and Turkey) and Russia. It featured the heroically disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. The future King Edward VII was born on 9 November 1841.

66 Keats and his use of Miltonic inversion Keats is most clearly influ¬ enced by Milton in his unfinished epic poem Hyperion, about which he wrote: ‘I have given up Hyperion - there were too many Miltonic inversions in it’ (quoted in Sidney Colvin, John Keats: His Life and Poetry, His Friends, Critics and After-Fame (London: Macmillan, 1917), p. 436, a volume that was owned by Woolf).

66 the comments of Juvenal ... of Strindberg Juvenal, Decimus Junius Juvenalis, flourished in the early 2nd century AD and was the greatest of all Roman satirists. The most celebrated play of the Swedish dram¬ atist August Strindberg (1849-1912) is Miss Julie (1888).

66 Mr. Casaubon Disastrously, in George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-2), the heroine, Dorothea Brooke, marries Edward Casaubon, a desic¬ cated pedant. Eliot possibly named him after the classical scholar Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614).

69 26th of October 1928 The date of Woolf’s talk at Girton College. See the Introduction, p. xv.


120


Notes


70 a taxi-cab ...by the current elsewhere Cf. this passage near the end of The Years: ‘Eleanor ... was watching a taxi that was gliding slowly round the square. It stopped in front of a house two doors down. ... A young man had got out; he paid the driver. Then a girl in a tweed travelling suit followed him. He fitted his latch-key to the door. “There,” Eleanor murmured, as he opened the door and they stood for a moment on the threshold. “There!” she repeated as the door shut with a little thud behind them’ (Y 305).

71 Whitehall ... alien and critical Whitehall, in central London, con¬ nects Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square. It is dominated by Government offices and memorials to distinguished soldiers (see note to p. 29 above on the Duke of Cambridge, p. 104) and statesmen, as well as being the location of the Cenotaph, the United Kingdom’s pri¬ mary war memorial. A byword for the state, Whitehall epitomises Woolf’s opposition to patriarchy in such works as Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway and Three Guineas.

71 Coleridge ...a great mind is androgynous Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), ‘Table Talk’, 1 September 1832. In a 1918 review of The Table Talk and Omniana of Samuel Taylor Coleridge entitled ‘Coleridge as Critic’, Woolf wrote: ‘The same desire to justify and protect one’s type led [Coleridge] no doubt to perceive the truth that “a great mind must be androgynous ... I have known strong minds with imposing, undoubting, Cobbett-like manners, but I have never met a great mind of this sort’” (£11 221-5; quotation from pp. 221-2). See also Sowon S. Park, ‘Apostolic Minds and the Spinning House’ (see note to p. 3 above), where we are reminded that Jane Harrison’s ‘Scientiae sacra fames’ (1913) concludes with these lines: ‘To face the facts and the problems of life is characteristic of today. To see them clearly we need the binocular vision of the two sexes’ (quotation from p. 75).

72 The Suffrage campaign The campaign to extend to women the right to vote gathered pace from around the mid-1860s. Women over 30 were eventually granted suffrage in 1918 and it was extended to women under 30 in 1928 (see note to p. 28 above). The more militant suffragette movement originated with the foundation, by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, of the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903. Sensational outrages, such as the smashing of the windows of politicians’ houses and arson attacks, were met with increasingly harsh prison sentences, which led to suf¬ fragette hunger strikes and the introduction of forcible feeding by the authorities, which in turn led to the infamous Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act of 1913, otherwise known as the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’.

72 a shadow shaped something like the letter “1” ‘I, I, P is a locution asso¬ ciated with both Bernard (W 165) and Louis ( W 107) in The Waves, while the egotism of these men anticipates Woolf’s critique of patriarchy


121


Notes


in The Years, and especially the insistent ‘I, I, I’ that sounds to Peggy ‘like a vulture’s beak pecking’ in the ‘Present Day’ chapter (Y 254).

73 Miss Clough Anne Jemima Clough (1820-92), campaigner for women’s education, suffragist, first Principal (1871-92) of Newnham College, and sister of the poet Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-61). Clough Hall, completed in 1887 and the location of Woolf’s talk at Newnham was named after her: see note to p. 13 above.

74 Mr. Galsworthy and Mr. Kipling John Galsworthy (1867-1933) and Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) were both very popular writers at this time and had been for many years.

74 old Jolyon’s head Old Jolyon is the patriarch of the Forsyte family in Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga, a work which first appeared under that title in 1922 and which brought together in one volume The Man of Property (1906), ‘Indian Summer of a Forsyte’ (1918), In Chancery (1920), Awakening (1920) and To Let (1921).

74 Kipling’s officers ... and the Flag Woolf has in mind such works as Kipling’s Stalky & Co. (1899), Plain Tales from the Hills (1888), Soldiers Three (1890) and Kim (1901) about Imperial India, as well as Mark 4:3-8 ‘Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow ...’.

74 self-assertive virility ... Walter Raleigh’s letters Sir Walter Raleigh (1861-1922) was the first Professor of English Literature (1904-22) at Oxford University, but his interests moved away from literature during the First World War towards an almost monomaniacal preoc¬ cupation with military matters. Might is Right (1914), The War of Ideas (1916) and England and the War (1918) were some of the fruits of this late phase of his career. After the war, Raleigh was appointed official historian of the Royal Air Force, and the last and longest book he published was The War in the Air (1922), in which his admiration of the heroism and ‘virility’ of military aviators is everywhere appar¬ ent. Woolf reviewed a posthumous, two-volume collection of his let¬ ters in 1926 (EIV 342-8).

74 Rome The Woolfs spent a week in Rome in April 1927: see Dill 133.

74 anxiety about fiction in Italy ...a poet worthy of it ” These quota¬ tions are from ‘Literature in Italy’, The Times (26 May 1928), p. 14, a report on the first meeting of the ‘Academy of Ten’, ‘a sort of Italian equivalent of the Academie Goncourt’. The report has ‘men famous’ not ‘Men famous’, and ‘industry, or’ rather than ‘industry or’. II Duce or ‘The Leader’ was Benito Mussolini (see note to p. 23 above). In the typescript at this point there is an extended analysis of posters, flags, banners and Fascist corporate leaders in Italy. ‘It was all very military and masculine and dry (I mean to a woman), I thought, remembering Rome ...’ (W&F 190).

75 come of age That is, reached the age of twenty-one. The age of majority in England and Wales was reduced from twenty-one to eight¬ een on 1 January 1970.


122


Notes


76 Whitaker’s... Master in Lunacy A‘Table of Precedency’ in Whitaker’s Almanack (see note to p. 63 above) listed the formal social ranking of persons of note in Britain from Sovereign to Gentleman, from Queen to Wife of Gentleman. This order was established by an Act of Parliament passed by Henry VIII. Commanders of the Bath took prec¬ edence over Masters in Lunacy, and therefore the former would follow the latter in a procession. The Order of the Bath is the third-highest order of chivalry and was established by George I in 1725. Masters in Lunacy were introduced in 1845, following the Lunacy Act of 1842.

77 Landor ... Rossetti Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), poet and author of Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen (1824-9); William Morris (1834-96), pioneering socialist, artist, poet and author of News from Nowhere (1891); Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82), poet and Pre-Raphaelite painter.

77 bloweth where it listeth John 3:8 ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.’

78 Saul ... Modern Painters ‘Saul’ is a dramatic monologue by Robert Browning (1812-89) published in his Men and Women (1855); he published The Ring and the Book in 1868-9. John Ruskin (1819-1900) was one of the 19th century’s leading art and social critics, and the author, among many other volumes, of Modern Painters (5 vols; 1843-60).

78 Atropos ... drug disappointment Atropos was one of the three Fates in Greek mythology. Her function was to cut the thread of human life with her shears. The poet John Clare (1793-1864) was institutional¬ ised in an Essex asylum in 1837 before escaping in 1841; he spent the rest of his life in Northampton General Asylum. The poet James Thomson (1834-82) was a laudanum addict.

78 ten years ... three hundred and twenty elementary schools Sir Arthur

Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) was knighted in 1910 for his many years of dedicated service to the improvement of Cornish education.

78 “ What are the great ... great writings are born." In the original of

this quotation, Quiller-Couch has ‘Of these all’ not ‘Of these, all’; ‘three Keats’ not ‘three, Keats’; ‘well-to-do’ on three occasions, rather than ‘well to do’; ‘well-to-do, he’ not ‘well-to-do, and he’; ‘writing Saul ’ not ‘write Saul’; ‘madhouse’ not ‘mad-house’; ‘a great part of the last ten years in watching some 320 Elementary Schools’ rather than ‘a great part of ten years in watching some three hundred and twenty elementary schools,’; and ‘actually a’ not ‘actually, a’ (Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, On the Art of Writing: Lectures Delivered at the University of Cambridge 1913-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1916), pp. 22-42; quotations from pp. 38-9).

78 the murder of one’s aunts In September 1929, the Hogarth Press published Death of My Aunt by the novelist and barrister C. H. B. Kitchin (1895-1967), in which the narrator’s aunt is murdered.


123


Notes


See Diane F. Gillespie, ‘Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press, and the Detective Novel’, South Carolina Review, 35, No. 2 (2003), pp.36-48.

79 Lady Murasaki Shikibu Murasaki (c.978-c.1014/1025), a Japanese writer whose The Tale of Genji was currently being translated (1925- 33) by Arthur Waley (1889-1966). For Woolf’s review of the first vol¬ ume of Waley’s translation, see £IV 264-9.

80 Sir Archibald Bodkin Bodkin (1862-1957) was a lawyer and Director of Public Prosecutions (1920-30), in which role he was particularly committed to the suppression of what he regarded as obscene literature.

81 “that when children ... altogether necessary ” John Langdon-Davies actually wrote: ‘And if children cease to be altogether desirable, women cease to be altogether necessary’ (A Short History of Women (London: Cape, 1928), p. 22).

81 one thousand six hundred ...at present in existence This figure is given, for example, in Whitaker’s Almanack for the Year of Our Lord 1914 (London: Joseph Whitaker, 1913), p. 99. The Almanacks for 1915, 1916 and 1917 give the same number, before a higher figure is published in 1918. The Almanacks for 1928 and 1929 estimate the world’s population to be 1,849,500,000 (on p. 83 of both volumes).

81 at least two colleges ... her own property The Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870, 1882 and 1893 progressively ensured that married men and women were treated equally under the law in terms of their property rights. The ‘colleges for women’ founded since 1866 included not just Girton and Newnham at Cambridge, but also Lady Margaret Hall (1878), St. Anne’s (1878), Somerville (1879), St. Hugh’s (1886) and St. Hilda’s (1893) at Oxford University. Bedford College, University of London, founded solely for the higher education of women in 1849, was the first institution of its kind in the United Kingdom. It merged with Royal Holloway College in 1985.

82 Sir Sidney Lee’s life of the poet Lee (1859-1926) succeeded Leslie Stephen as sole editor of the Dictionary of National Biography in 1891 and wrote the extensive entry on Shakespeare, which he then expanded into The Life of William Shakespeare (1898), for many years regarded as the standard work on the poet and dramatist.

82 Milton’s bogey Alice Fox points out the significance of three Miltonic passages: Eve’s statement to Adam that ‘God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more / Is woman’s happiest knowledge and her praise’; the definition of woman as ‘a fair defect of Nature’; and the line ‘He, for God only; she, for God in him’ (all from Paradise Lost): Alice Fox, ‘Literary Allusion as Feminist Criticism in A Room of One’s Own ’, Philological Quarterly, 63, No. 2 (Spring 1984), pp. 145-61; quota¬ tions from pp. 148 and 158. See also Sandra M. Gilbert, ‘Patriarchal Poetry and Woman Readers: Reflections on Milton’s Bogey’, PMLA, 93, No. 3 (1978), pp. 368-82.


124


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN 1


1 This essay is based upon two papers read to the Arts Society at Newnham and the Odtaa at Girton in October 1928. The papers were too long to be read in full, and have since been altered and expanded.


CHAPTER I


But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction - what has that got to do with a room of one’s own? I will try to explain. When you asked me to speak about women and fiction I sat down on the banks of a river and began to wonder what the words meant. They might mean simply a few remarks about Fanny Burney; a few more about Jane Austen; a tribute to the Brontes and a sketch of Haworth Parsonage under snow; some witticisms if possible about Miss Mitford; a respectful allusion to George Eliot; a reference to Mrs. Gaskell and one would have done. But at second sight the words seemed not so simple. The title women and fiction might mean, and you may have meant it to mean, women and what they are like; or it might mean women and the fiction that they write; or it might mean women and the fiction that is written about them; or it might mean that somehow all three are inextricably mixed together and you want me to consider them in that light. But when I began to consider the subject in this last way, which seemed the most interesting, I soon saw that it had one fatal drawback. I should never be able to come to a conclusion. I should never be able to fulfil what is, I understand, the first duty of a lecturer - to hand you after an hour’s discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks and keep on the mantelpiece for ever. All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point - a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved. I have shirked the duty of coming to a


A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf. Edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke. Published 2015 John Wiley Sc Sons, Ltd.


3


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


conclusion upon these two questions - women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems. But in order to make some amends I am going to do what I can to show you how I arrived at this opinion about the room and the money. I am going to develop in your presence as fully and freely as I can the train of thought which led me to think this. Perhaps if I lay bare the ideas, the prejudices, that lie behind this statement you will find that they have some bearing upon women and some upon fiction. 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 show how 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 idiosyncrasies of the speaker. Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact. Therefore I propose, making use of all the liberties and licences of a novelist, to tell you the story of the two days that preceded my coming here - how, bowed down by the weight of the subject which you have laid upon my shoulders, I pondered it, and made it work in and out of my daily life. I need not say that what I am about to describe has no existence; Oxbridge is an invention; so is Fernham; “I” is only a convenient term for somebody who has no real being. Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping. If not, you will of course throw the whole of it into the waste-paper basket and forget all about it.

Here then was I (call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please - it is not a matter of any importance) sitting on the banks of a river a week or two ago in fine October weather, lost in thought. That collar I have spoken of, women and fiction, the need of coming to some conclusion on a sub¬ ject that raises all sorts of prejudices and passions, bowed my head to the ground. To the right and left bushes of some sort, golden and crimson, glowed with the colour, even it seemed burnt with the heat, of fire. On the further bank the willows wept in perpetual lamenta¬ tion, their hair about their shoulders. The river reflected whatever it chose of sky and bridge and burning tree, and when the undergradu¬ ate had oared his boat through the reflections they closed again, completely, as if he had never been. There one might have sat the clock round lost in thought. Thought - to call it by a prouder name than it deserved - had let its line down into the stream. It swayed, minute after minute, hither and thither among the reflections and the weeds, letting the water lift it and sink it, until - you know the little


4


CHAPTER I


tug - the sudden conglomeration of an idea at the end of one’s line: and then the cautious hauling of it in, and the careful laying of it out? Alas, laid on the grass how small, how insignificant this thought of mine looked; the sort of fish that a good fisherman puts back into the water so that it may grow fatter and be one day worth cooking and eating. I will not trouble you with that thought now, though if you look carefully you may find it for yourselves in the course of what I am going to say.

But however small it was, it had, nevertheless, the mysterious property of its kind - put back into the mind, it became at once very exciting, and important; and as it darted and sank, and flashed hither and thither, set up such a wash and tumult of ideas that it was impos¬ sible to sit still. It was thus that I found myself walking with extreme rapidity across a grass plot. Instantly a man’s figure rose to intercept me. Nor did I at first understand that the gesticulations of a curious- looking object, in a cut-away coat and evening shirt, were aimed at me. His face expressed horror and indignation. Instinct rather than reason came to my help; he was a Beadle; I was a woman. This was the turf; there was the path. Only the Fellows and Scholars are allowed here; the gravel is the place for me. Such thoughts were the work of a moment. As I regained the path the arms of the Beadle sank, his face assumed its usual repose, and though turf is better walking than gravel, no very great harm was done. The only charge I could bring against the Fellows and Scholars of whatever the college might happen to be was that in protection of their turf, which has been rolled for 300 years in succession, they had sent my little fish into hiding.

What idea it had been that had sent me so audaciously trespassing I could not now remember. The spirit of peace descended like a cloud from heaven, for if the spirit of peace dwells anywhere, it is in the courts and quadrangles of Oxbridge on a fine October morning. Strolling through those colleges past those ancient halls the rough¬ ness of the present seemed smoothed away; the body seemed con¬ tained in a miraculous glass cabinet through which no sound could penetrate, and the mind, freed from any contact with facts (unless one trespassed on the turf again), was at liberty to settle down upon whatever meditation was in harmony with the moment. As chance would have it, some stray memory of some old essay about revisiting Oxbridge in the long vacation brought Charles Lamb to mind - Saint Charles, said Thackeray, putting a letter of Lamb’s to his fore¬ head. Indeed, among all the dead (I give you my thoughts as they came to me), Lamb is one of the most congenial; one to whom one


5


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


would have liked to say, Tell me then how you wrote your essays? For his essays are superior even to Max Beerbohm’s, I thought, with all their perfection, because of that wild flash of imagination, that lightning crack of genius in the middle of them which leaves them flawed and imperfect, but starred with poetry. Lamb then came to Oxbridge perhaps a hundred years ago. Certainly he wrote an essay - the name escapes me - about the manuscript of one of Milton’s poems which he saw here. It was Lycidas perhaps, and Lamb wrote how it shocked him to think it possible that any word in Lycidas could have been different from what it is. To think of Milton chang¬ ing the words in that poem seemed to him a sort of sacrilege. This led me to remember what I could of Lycidas and to amuse myself with guessing which word it could have been that Milton had altered, and why. It then occurred to me that the very manuscript itself which Lamb had looked at was only a few hundred yards away, so that one could follow Lamb’s footsteps across the quadran¬ gle to that famous library where the treasure is kept. Moreover, I recollected, as I put this plan into execution, it is in this famous library that the manuscript of Thackeray’s Esmond is also preserved. The critics often say that Esmond is Thackeray’s most perfect novel. But the affectation of the style, with its imitation of the eighteenth century, hampers one, so far as I remember; unless indeed the eight¬ eenth-century style was natural to Thackeray - a fact that one might prove by looking at the manuscript and seeing whether the altera¬ tions were for the benefit of the style or of the sense. But then one would have to decide what is style and what is meaning, a question which - but here I was actually at the door which leads into the library itself. I must have opened it, for instantly there issued, like a guardian angel barring the way with a flutter of black gown instead of white wings, a deprecating, silvery, kindly gentleman, who regret¬ ted in a low voice as he waved me back that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College or furnished with a letter of introduction.

That a famous library has been cursed by a woman is a matter of complete indifference to a famous library. Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within its breast, it sleeps complacently and will, so far as I am concerned, so sleep for ever. Never will I wake those echoes, never will I ask for that hospitality again, I vowed as I descended the steps in anger. Still an hour remained before luncheon, and what was one to do? Stroll on the meadows? sit by the river? Certainly it was a lovely autumn morning; the leaves were fluttering red to the ground; there was no great


CHAPTER I


hardship in doing either. But the sound of music reached my ear. Some service or celebration was going forward. The organ com¬ plained magnificently as I passed the chapel door. Even the sorrow of Christianity sounded in that serene air more like the recollection of sorrow than sorrow itself; even the groanings of the ancient organ seemed lapped in peace. I had no wish to enter had I the right, and this time the verger might have stopped me, demanding perhaps my baptismal certificate, or a letter of introduction from the Dean. But the outside of these magnificent buildings is often as beautiful as the inside. Moreover, it was amusing enough to watch the congregation assembling, coming in and going out again, busy¬ ing themselves at the door of the Chapel like bees at the mouth of a hive. Many were in cap and gown; some had tufts of fur on their shoulders; others were wheeled in bath-chairs; others, though not past middle age, seemed creased and crushed into shapes so singu¬ lar that one was reminded of those giant crabs and crayfish who heave with difficulty across the sand of an aquarium. As I leant against the wall the University indeed seemed a sanctuary in which are preserved rare types which would soon be obsolete if left to fight for existence on the pavement of the Strand. Old stories of old deans and old dons came back to mind, but before I had summoned up courage to whistle - it used to be said that at the sound of a whistle old Professor-instantly broke into a gallop - the vener¬

able congregation had gone inside. The outside of the chapel remained. As you know, its high domes and pinnacles can be seen, like a sailing-ship always voyaging never arriving, lit up at night and visible for miles, far away across the hills. Once, presumably, this quadrangle with its smooth lawns, its massive buildings and the chapel itself was marsh too, where the grasses waved and the swine rootled. Teams of horses and oxen, I thought, must have hauled the stone in wagons from far counties, and then with infinite labour the grey blocks in whose shade I was now standing were poised in order one on top of another, and then the painters brought their glass for the windows, and the masons were busy for centuries up on that roof with putty and cement, spade and trowel. Every Saturday some¬ body must have poured gold and silver out of a leathern purse into their ancient fists, for they had their beer and skittles presumably of an evening. An unending stream of gold and silver, I thought, must have flowed into this court perpetually to keep the stones coming and the masons working; to level, to ditch, to dig and to drain. But it was then the age of faith, and money was poured liberally to set these stones on a deep foundation, and when the stones were raised,


7


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


still more money was poured in from the coffers of kings and queens and great nobles to ensure that hymns should be sung here and scholars taught. Lands were granted; tithes were paid. And when the age of faith was over and the age of reason had come, still the same flow of gold and silver went on; fellowships were founded; lectureships endowed; only the gold and silver flowed now, not from the coffers of the king, but from the chests of merchants and manufacturers, from the purses of men who had made, say, a for¬ tune from industry, and returned, in their wills, a bounteous share of it to endow more chairs, more lectureships, more fellowships in the university where they had learnt their craft. Hence the libraries and laboratories; the observatories; the splendid equipment of costly and delicate instruments which now stands on glass shelves, where centuries ago the grasses waved and the swine rootled. Certainly, as I strolled round the court, the foundation of gold and silver seemed deep enough; the pavement laid solidly over the wild grasses. Men with trays on their heads went busily from staircase to staircase. Gaudy blossoms flowered in window-boxes. The strains of the gramophone blared out from the rooms within. It was impos¬ sible not to reflect - the reflection whatever it may have been was cut short. The clock struck. It was time to find one’s way to luncheon.

It is a curious fact that novelists have a way of making us believe that luncheon parties are invariably memorable for something very witty that was said, or for something very wise that was done. But they seldom spare a word for what was eaten. It is part of the novel¬ ist’s convention not to mention soup and salmon and ducklings, as if soup and salmon and ducklings were of no importance whatsoever, as if nobody ever smoked a cigar or drank a glass of wine. Here, however, I shall take the liberty to defy that convention and to tell you that the lunch on this occasion began with soles, sunk in a deep dish, over which the college cook had spread a counterpane of the whitest cream, save that it was branded here and there with brown spots like the spots on the flanks of a doe. After that came the par¬ tridges, but if this suggests a couple of bald, brown birds on a plate you are mistaken. The partridges, many and various, came with all their retinue of sauces and salads, the sharp and the sweet, each in its order; their potatoes, thin as coins but not so hard; their sprouts, foli¬ ated as rosebuds but more succulent. And no sooner had the roast and its retinue been done with than the silent serving-man, the Beadle himself perhaps in a milder manifestation, set before us, wreathed in napkins, a confection which rose all sugar from the waves. To call it


CHAPTER I


pudding and so relate it to rice and tapioca would be an insult. Meanwhile the wineglasses had flushed yellow and flushed crimson; had been emptied; had been filled. And thus by degrees was lit, half¬ way down the spine, which is the seat of the soul, not that hard little electric light which we call brilliance, as it pops in and out upon our lips, but the more profound, subtle and subterranean glow which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse. No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. We are all going to heaven and Vandyck is of the company - in other words, how good life seemed, how sweet its rewards, how trivial this grudge or that grievance, how admirable friendship and the society of one’s kind, as, lighting a good cigarette, one sunk among the cushions in the window-seat.

If by good luck there had been an ash-tray handy, if one had not knocked the ash out of the window in default, if things had been a little different from what they were, one would not have seen, pre¬ sumably, a cat without a tail. The sight of that abrupt and truncated animal padding softly across the quadrangle changed by some fluke of the sub-conscious intelligence the emotional light for me. It was as if someone had let fall a shade. Perhaps the excellent hock was relinquishing its hold. Certainly, as I watched the Manx cat pause in the middle of the lawn as if it too questioned the universe, some¬ thing seemed lacking, something seemed different. But what was lacking, what was different, I asked myself, listening to the talk? And to answer that question I had to think myself out of the room, back into the past, before the war indeed, and to set before my eyes the model of another luncheon party held in rooms not very far distant from these; but different. Everything was different. Meanwhile the talk went on among the guests, who were many and young, some of this sex, some of that; it went on swimmingly, it went on agreeably, freely, amusingly. And as it went on I set it against the background of that other talk, and as I matched the two together I had no doubt that one was the descendant, the legitimate heir of the other. Nothing was changed; nothing was different save only - here I listened with all my ears not entirely to what was being said, but to the murmur or current behind it. Yes, that was it - the change was there. Before the war at a luncheon party like this people would have said precisely the same things but they would have sounded different, because in those days they were accompanied by a sort of humming noise, not articulate, but musical, exciting, which changed the value of the words themselves. Could one set that humming noise to words? Perhaps with the help of the poets one could.


9


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


A book lay beside me and, opening it, I turned casually enough to Tennyson. And here I found Tennyson was singing:

There has fallen a splendid tear

From the passion-flower at the gate.

She is coming, my dove, my dear;

She is coming, my life, my fate;

The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near”;

And the white rose weeps, “She is late”;

The larkspur listens, “I hear, 1 hear”;

And the lily whispers, “I wait.”

Was that what men hummed at luncheon parties before the war? And the women?

My heart is like a singing bird Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;

My heart is like an apple tree

Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;

My heart is like a rainbow shell That paddles in a halcyon sea;

My heart is gladder than all these Because my love is come to me.

Was that what women hummed at luncheon parties before the war?

There was something so ludicrous in thinking of people humming such things even under their breath at luncheon parties before the war that I burst out laughing, and had to explain my laughter by pointing at the Manx cat, who did look a little absurd, poor beast, without a tail, in the middle of the lawn. Was he really born so, or had he lost his tail in an accident? The tailless cat, though some are said to exist in the Isle of Man, is rarer than one thinks. It is a queer animal, quaint rather than beautiful. It is strange what a difference a tail makes - you know the sort of things one says as a lunch party breaks up and peo¬ ple are finding their coats and hats.

This one, thanks to the hospitality of the host, had lasted far into the afternoon. The beautiful October day was fading and the leaves were falling from the trees in the avenue as I walked through it. Gate after gate seemed to close with gentle finality behind me. Innumerable beadles were fitting innumerable keys into well-oiled locks; the treas¬ ure-house was being made secure for another night. After the avenue one comes out upon a road - I forget its name - which leads you,


10


CHAPTER I


if you take the right turning, along to Fernham. But there was plenty of time. Dinner was not till half-past seven. One could almost do without dinner after such a luncheon. It is strange how a scrap of poetry works in the mind and makes the legs move in time to it along the road. Those words -

There has fallen a splendid tear

From the passion-flower at the gate.

She is coming, my dove, my dear -

sang in my blood as I stepped quickly along towards Headingley. And then, switching off into the other measure, I sang, where the waters are churned up by the weir:

My heart is like a singing bird Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;

My heart is like an apple tree ...

What poets, I cried aloud, as one does in the dusk, what poets they were!

In a sort of jealousy, I suppose, for our own age, silly and absurd though these comparisons are, I went on to wonder if honestly one could name two living poets now as great as Tennyson and Christina Rossetti were then. Obviously it is impossible, I thought, looking into those foaming waters, to compare them. The very reason why that poetry excites one to such abandonment, such rapture, is that it cele¬ brates some feeling that one used to have (at luncheon parties before the war perhaps), so that one responds easily, familiarly, without troubling to check the feeling, or to compare it with any that one has now. But the living poets express a feeling that is actually being made and torn out of us at the moment. One does not recognise it in the first place; often for some reason one fears it; one watches it with keenness and compares it jealously and suspiciously with the old feel¬ ing that one knew. Hence the difficulty of modern poetry; and it is because of this difficulty that one cannot remember more than two consecutive lines of any good modern poet. For this reason - that my memory failed me - the argument flagged for want of material. But why, I continued, moving on towards Headingley, have we stopped humming under our breath at luncheon parties? Why has Alfred ceased to sing


She is coming, my dove, my dear.


11


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


Why has Christina ceased to respond

My heart is gladder than all these Because my love is come to me?

Shall we lay the blame on the war? When the guns fired in August 1914, did the faces of men and women show so plain in each other’s eyes that romance was killed? Certainly it was a shock (to women in particular with their illusions about education, and so on) to see the faces of our rulers in the light of the shell-fire. So ugly they looked - German, English, French - so stupid. But lay the blame where one will, on whom one will, the illusion which inspired Tennyson and Christina Rossetti to sing so passionately about the coming of their loves is far rarer now than then. One has only to read, to look, to lis¬ ten, to remember. But why say “blame”? Why, if it was an illusion, not praise the catastrophe, whatever it was, that destroyed illusion and put truth in its place? For truth ... those dots mark the spot where, in search of truth, I missed the turning up to Fernham. Yes indeed, which was truth and which was illusion, I asked myself? What was the truth about these houses, for example, dim and festive now with their red windows in the dusk, but raw and red and squalid, with their sweets and their bootlaces, at nine o’clock in the morning? And the willows and the river and the gardens that run down to the river, vague now with the mist stealing over them, but gold and red in the sunlight - which was the truth, which was the illusion about them? I spare you the twists and turns of my cogitations, for no conclusion was found on the road to Headingley, and I ask you to suppose that I soon found out my mistake about the turning and retraced my steps to Fernham.

As I have said already that it was an October day, I dare not forfeit your respect and imperil the fair name of fiction by changing the sea¬ son and describing lilacs hanging over garden walls, crocuses, tulips and other flowers of spring. Fiction must stick to facts, and the truer the facts the better the fiction - so we are told. Therefore it was still autumn and the leaves were still yellow and falling, if anything, a little faster than before, because it was now evening (seven twenty-three to be precise) and a breeze (from the south-west to be exact) had risen. But for all that there was something odd at work:

My heart is like a singing bird Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;

My heart is like an apple tree Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit -


12


CHAPTER I


perhaps the words of Christina Rossetti were partly responsible for the folly of the fancy - it was nothing of course but a fancy - that the lilac was shaking its flowers over the garden walls, and the brimstone butterflies were scudding hither and thither, and the dust of the pollen was in the air. A wind blew, from what quarter I know not, but it lifted the half-grown leaves so that there was a flash of silver grey in the air. It was the time between the lights when colours undergo their intensification and purples and golds burn in window-panes like the beat of an excitable heart; when for some reason the beauty of the world revealed and yet soon to perish (here I pushed into the garden, for, unwisely, the door was left open and no beadles seemed about), the beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder. The gardens of Fernham lay before me in the spring twilight, wild and open, and in the long grass, sprinkled and carelessly flung, were daffodils and blue¬ bells, not orderly perhaps at the best of times, and now wind-blown and waving as they tugged at their roots. The windows of the build¬ ing, curved like ships’ windows among generous waves of red brick, changed from lemon to silver under the flight of the quick spring clouds. Somebody was in a hammock, somebody, but in this light they were phantoms only, half guessed, half seen, raced across the grass - would no one stop her? - and then on the terrace, as if popping out to breathe the air, to glance at the garden, came a bent figure, formidable yet humble, with her great forehead and her shabby dress - could it

be the famous scholar, could it be J-H-herself? All was dim,

yet intense too, as if the scarf which the dusk had flung over the gar¬ den were torn asunder by star or sword - the flash of some terrible

reality leaping, as its way is, out of the heart of the spring. For youth-

Here was my soup. Dinner was being served in the great dining-hall. Far from being spring it was in fact an evening in October. Everybody was assembled in the big dining-room. Dinner was ready. Here was the soup. It was a plain gravy soup. There was nothing to stir the fancy in that. One could have seen through the transparent liquid any pattern that there might have been on the plate itself. But there was no pattern. The plate was plain. Next came beef with its attendant greens and potatoes - a homely trinity, suggesting the rumps of cattle in a muddy market, and sprouts curled and yellowed at the edge, and bargaining and cheapening, and women with string bags on Monday morning. There was no reason to complain of human nature’s daily food, seeing that the supply was sufficient and coal-miners doubtless were sitting down to less. Prunes and custard followed. And if anyone complains that prunes, even when mitigated by custard, are an uncharitable vegetable


13


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


(fruit they are not), stringy as a miser’s heart and exuding a fluid such as might run in misers’ veins who have denied themselves wine and warmth for eighty years and yet not given to the poor, he should reflect that there are people whose charity embraces even the prune. Biscuits and cheese came next, and here the water-jug was liberally passed round, for it is the nature of biscuits to be dry, and these were biscuits to the core. That was all. The meal was over. Everybody scraped their chairs back; the swing-doors swung violently to and fro; soon the hall was emptied of every sign of food and made ready no doubt for break¬ fast next morning. Down corridors and up staircases the youth of England went banging and singing. And was it for a guest, a stranger (for I had no more right here in Fernham than in Trinity or Somerville or Girton or Newnham or Christchurch), to say, “The dinner was not good,” or to say (we were now, Mary Seton and I, in her sitting-room), “Could we not have dined up here alone?” for if I had said anything of the kind I should have been prying and searching into the secret econo¬ mies of a house which to the stranger wears so fine a front of gaiety and courage. No, one could say nothing of the sort. Indeed, conversation for a moment flagged. The human frame being what it is, heart, body and brain all mixed together, and not contained in separate compartments as they will be no doubt in another million years, a good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. The lamp in the spine does not light on beef and prunes. We are all probably going to heaven, and Vandyck is, we hope, to meet us round the next corner - that is the dubious and qualifying state of mind that beef and prunes at the end of the day’s work breed between them. Happily my friend, who taught science, had a cupboard where there was a squat bottle and little glasses - (but there should have been sole and partridge to begin with) - so that we were able to draw up to the fire and repair some of the damages of the day’s living. In a minute or so we were slipping freely in and out among all those objects of curiosity and interest which form in the mind in the absence of a particular person, and are naturally to be discussed on coming together again - how somebody has married, another has not; one thinks this, another that; one has improved out of all knowledge, the other most amazingly gone to the bad - with all those speculations upon human nature and the character of the amazing world we live in which spring naturally from such beginnings. While these things were being said, however, I became shamefacedly aware of a current setting in of its own accord and carrying everything forward to an end of its own. One might be talking of Spain or Portugal, of book or racehorse, but the real interest of whatever was said was none of those things, but


14


CHAPTER I


a scene of masons on a high roof some five centuries ago. Kings and nobles brought treasure in huge sacks and poured it under the earth. This scene was for ever coming alive in my mind and placing itself by another of lean cows and a muddy market and withered greens and the stringy hearts of old men - these two pictures, disjointed and discon¬ nected and nonsensical as they were, were for ever coming together and combating each other and had me entirely at their mercy. The best course, unless the whole talk was to be distorted, was to expose what was in my mind to the air, when with good luck it would fade and crumble like the head of the dead king when they opened the coffin at Windsor. Briefly, then, I told Miss Seton about the masons who had been all those years on the roof of the chapel, and about the kings and queens and nobles bearing sacks of gold and silver on their shoulders, which they shovelled into the earth; and then how the great financial magnates of our own time came and laid cheques and bonds, I suppose, where the others had laid ingots and rough lumps of gold. All that lies beneath the colleges down there, I said; but this college, where we are now sitting, what lies beneath its gallant red brick and the wild unkempt grasses of the garden? What force is behind that plain china off which we dined, and (here it popped out of my mouth before I could stop it) the beef, the custard and the prunes?

Well, said Mary Seton, about the year 1860 - Oh, but you know the story, she said, bored, I suppose, by the recital. And she told me - rooms were hired. Committees met. Envelopes were addressed. Circulars were drawn up. Meetings were held; letters were read out;

so-and-so has promised so much; on the contrary, Mr.-won’t give

a penny. The Saturday Review has been very rude. How can we raise a fund to pay for offices? Shall we hold a bazaar? Can’t we find a pretty girl to sit in the front row? Let us look up what John Stuart

Mill said on the subject. Can anyone persuade the editor of the-

to print a letter? Can we get Lady-to sign it? Lady-is out of

town. That was the way it was done, presumably, sixty years ago, and it was a prodigious effort, and a great deal of time was spent on it. And it was only after a long struggle and with the utmost difficulty that they got thirty thousand pounds together. 1 So obviously we


1 “We are told that we ought to ask for £30,000 at least. ... It is not a large sum, considering that there is to be but one college of this sort for Great Britain, Ireland and the Colonies, and considering how easy it is to raise immense sums for boys’ schools. But considering how few people really wish women to be educated, it is a good deal.” - Lady Stephen, Life of Miss Emily Davies [i.e., Emily Davies and Girton College].


15


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


cannot have wine and partridges and servants carrying tin dishes on their heads, she said. We cannot have sofas and separate rooms. “The amenities,” she said, quoting from some book or other, “will have to wait.” 2

At the thought of all those women working year after year and finding it hard to get two thousand pounds together, and as much as they could do to get thirty thousand pounds, we burst out in scorn at the reprehensible poverty of our sex. What had our mothers been doing then that they had no wealth to leave us? Powdering their noses? Looking in at shop windows? Flaunting in the sun at Monte Carlo? There were some photographs on the mantelpiece. Mary’s mother - if that was her picture - may have been a wastrel in her spare time (she had thirteen children by a minister of the church), but if so her gay and dissipated life had left too few traces of its pleasures on her face. She was a homely body; an old lady in a plaid shawl which was fastened by a large cameo; and she sat in a basket-chair, encouraging a spaniel to look at the camera, with the amused, yet strained expression of one who is sure that the dog will move directly the bulb is pressed. Now if she had gone into business; had become a manufacturer of artificial silk or a magnate on the Stock Exchange; if she had left two or three hundred thousand pounds to Fernham, we could have been sitting at our ease to-night and the subject of our talk might have been archaeology, botany, anthropology, physics, the nature of the atom, mathematics, astronomy, relativity, geography. If only Mrs. Seton and her mother and her mother before her had learnt the great art of making money and had left their money, like their fathers and their grandfathers before them, to found fellowships and lectureships and prizes and scholarships appropriated to the use of their own sex, we might have dined very tolerably up here alone off a bird and a bottle of wine; we might have looked forward without undue confidence to a pleasant and honourable lifetime spent in the shelter of one of the liberally endowed professions. We might have been exploring or writing; mooning about the venerable places of the earth; sitting contemplative on the steps of the Parthenon, or going at ten to an office and coming home comfortably at half-past four to write a little poetry. Only, if Mrs. Seton and her like had gone into business at the age of fifteen, there would have been - that was the snag in the argument - no Mary. What, I asked, did Mary think of that? There between the curtains was the October night, calm and


2 Every penny which could be scraped together was set aside for building, and the amenities had to be postponed. - R. Strachey, The Cause.


16


CHAPTER I


lovely, with a star or two caught in the yellowing trees. Was she ready to resign her share of it and her memories (for they had been a happy family, though a large one) of games and quarrels up in Scotland, which she is never tired of praising for the fineness of its air and the quality of its cakes, in order that Fernham might have been endowed with fifty thousand pounds or so by a stroke of the pen? For, to endow a college would necessitate the suppression of families altogether. Making a fortune and bearing thirteen children - no human being could stand it. Consider the facts, we said. First there are nine months before the baby is born. Then the baby is born. Then there are three or four months spent in feeding the baby. After the baby is fed there are certainly five years spent in playing with the baby. You cannot, it seems, let children run about the streets. People who have seen them running wild in Russia say that the sight is not a pleasant one. People say, too, that human nature takes its shape in the years between one and five. If Mrs. Seton, I said, had been making money, what sort of memories would you have had of games and quarrels? What would you have known of Scotland, and its fine air and cakes and all the rest of it? But it is useless to ask these questions, because you would never have come into existence at all. Moreover, it is equally useless to ask what might have happened if Mrs. Seton and her mother and her mother before her had amassed great wealth and laid it under the foundations of college and library, because, in the first place, to earn money was impossible for them, and in the second, had it been pos¬ sible, the law denied them the right to possess what money they earned. It is only for the last forty-eight years that Mrs. Seton has had a penny of her own. For all the centuries before that it would have been her husband’s property - a thought which, perhaps, may have had its share in keeping Mrs. Seton and her mothers off the Stock Exchange. Every penny I earn, they may have said, will be taken from me and disposed of according to my husband’s wisdom - perhaps to found a scholarship or to endow a fellowship in Balliol or Kings, so that to earn money, even if I could earn money, is not a matter that interests me very greatly. I had better leave it to my husband.

At any rate, whether or not the blame rested on the old lady who was looking at the spaniel, there could be no doubt that for some reason or other our mothers had mismanaged their affairs very gravely. Not a penny could be spared for “amenities”; for partridges and wine, beadles and turf, books and cigars, libraries and leisure. To raise bare walls out of the bare earth was the utmost they could do.

So we talked standing at the window and looking, as so many thousands look every night, down on the domes and towers of the


17


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


famous city beneath us. It was very beautiful, very mysterious in the autumn moonlight. The old stone looked very white and venerable. One thought of all the books that were assembled down there; of the pictures of old prelates and worthies hanging in the panelled rooms; of the painted windows that would be throwing strange globes and crescents on the pavement; of the tablets and memorials and inscrip¬ tions; of the fountains and the grass; of the quiet rooms looking across the quiet quadrangles. And (pardon me the thought) I thought, too, of the admirable smoke and drink and the deep arm-chairs and the pleasant carpets: of the urbanity, the geniality, the dignity which are the offspring of luxury and privacy and space. Certainly our mothers had not provided us with any thing comparable to all this - our moth¬ ers who found it difficult to scrape together thirty thousand pounds, our mothers who bore thirteen children to ministers of religion at St. Andrews.

So I went back to my inn, and as I walked through the dark streets I pondered this and that, as one does at the end of the day’s work. I pondered why it was that Mrs. Seton had no money to leave us; and what effect poverty has on the mind; and what effect wealth has on the mind; and I thought of the queer old gentlemen I had seen that morning with tufts of fur upon their shoulders; and I remembered how if one whistled one of them ran; and I thought of the organ booming in the chapel and of the shut doors of the library; and I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in; and, thinking of the safety and pros¬ perity of the one sex and of the poverty and insecurity of the other and of the effect of tradition and of the lack of tradition upon the mind of a writer, I thought at last that it was time to roll up the crum¬ pled skin of the day, with its arguments and its impressions and its anger and its laughter, and cast it into the hedge. A thousand stars were flashing across the blue wastes of the sky. One seemed alone with an inscrutable society. All human beings were laid asleep - prone, horizontal, dumb. Nobody seemed stirring in the streets of Oxbridge. Even the door of the hotel sprang open at the touch of an invisible hand - not a boots was sitting up to light me to bed, it was so late.


18


CHAPTER II


The scene, if I may ask you to follow me, was now changed. The leaves were still falling, but in London now, not Oxbridge; and I must ask you to imagine a room, like many thousands, with a window looking across people’s hats and vans and motor-cars to other windows, and on the table inside the room a blank sheet of paper on which was written in large letters Women and Fiction, but no more. The inevitable sequel to lunching and dining at Oxbridge seemed, unfortunately, to be a visit to the British Museum. One must strain off what was personal and accidental in all these impressions and so reach the pure fluid, the essen¬ tial oil of truth. For that visit to Oxbridge and the luncheon and the dinner had started a swarm of questions. Why did men drink wine and women water? Why was one sex so prosperous and the other so poor? What effect has poverty on fiction? What conditions are necessary for the creation of works of art? - a thousand questions at once suggested themselves. But one needed answers, not questions; and an answer was only to be had by consulting the learned and the unprejudiced, who have removed themselves above the strife of tongue and the confusion of body and issued the result of their reasoning and research in books which are to be found in the British Museum. If truth is not to be found on the shelves of the British Museum, where, I asked myself, picking up a notebook and a pencil, is truth?

Thus provided, thus confident and enquiring, I set out in the pur¬ suit of truth. The day, though not actually wet, was dismal, and the streets in the neighbourhood of the Museum were full of open coal¬ holes, down which sacks were showering; four-wheeled cabs were


A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf. Edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke. Published 2015 John Wiley Sc Sons, Ltd.


19


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


drawing up and depositing on the pavement corded boxes containing, presumably, the entire wardrobe of some Swiss or Italian family seek¬ ing fortune or refuge or some other desirable commodity which is to be found in the boarding-houses of Bloomsbury in the winter. The usual hoarse-voiced men paraded the streets with plants on barrows. Some shouted; others sang. London was like a workshop. London was like a machine. We were all being shot backwards and forwards on this plain foundation to make some pattern. The British Museum was another department of the factory. The swing-doors swung open; and there one stood under the vast dome, as if one were a thought in the huge bald forehead which is so splendidly encircled by a band of famous names. One went to the counter; one took a slip of paper; one

opened a volume of the catalogue, and.the five dots here indicate

five separate minutes of stupefaction, wonder and bewilderment. Have you any notion how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe? Here had I come with a notebook and a pencil proposing to spend a morning reading, supposing that at the end of the morning I should have transferred the truth to my notebook. But I should need to be a herd of elephants, I thought, and a wilderness of spiders, desperately referring to the animals that are reputed longest lived and most multitudinously eyed, to cope with all this. I should need claws of steel and beak of brass even to penetrate the husk. How shall I ever find the grains of truth embedded in all this mass of paper? I asked myself, and in despair began running my eye up and down the long list of titles. Even the names of the books gave me food for thought. Sex and its nature might well attract doctors and biologists; but what was surprising and difficult of explanation was the fact that sex - woman, that is to say - also attracts agreeable essayists, light- fingered novelists, young men who have taken the M.A. degree; men who have taken no degree; men who have no apparent qualification save that they are not women. Some of these books were, on the face of it, frivolous and facetious; but many, on the other hand, were seri¬ ous and prophetic, moral and hortatory. Merely to read the titles sug¬ gested innumerable schoolmasters, innumerable clergymen mounting their platforms and pulpits and holding forth with a loquacity which far exceeded the hour usually allotted to such discourse on this one subject. It was a most strange phenomenon; and apparently - here I consulted the letter M - one confined to the male sex. Women do not write books about men - a fact that I could not help welcoming with relief, for if I had first to read all that men have written about women,


20



CHAPTER II


then all that women have written about men, the aloe that flowers once in a hundred years would flower twice before I could set pen to paper. So, making a perfectly arbitrary choice of a dozen volumes or so, I sent my slips of paper to lie in the wire tray, and waited in my stall, among the other seekers for the essential oil of truth.

What could be the reason, then, of this curious disparity, I won¬ dered, drawing cart-wheels on the slips of paper provided by the British taxpayer for other purposes. Why are women, judging from this cata¬ logue, so much more interesting to men than men are to women? A very curious fact it seemed, and my mind wandered to picture the lives of men who spend their time in writing books about women; whether they were old or young, married or unmarried, red-nosed or hump¬ backed - anyhow, it was flattering, vaguely, to feel oneself the object of such attention, provided that it was not entirely bestowed by the crip¬ pled and the infirm - so I pondered until all such frivolous thoughts were ended by an avalanche of books sliding down on to the desk in front of me. Now the trouble began. The student who has been trained in research at Oxbridge has no doubt some method of shepherding his question past all distractions till it runs into its answer as a sheep runs into its pen. The student by my side, for instance, who was copying assiduously from a scientific manual, was, I felt sure, extracting pure nuggets of the essential ore every ten minutes or so. His little grunts of satisfaction indicated so much. But if, unfortunately, one has had no training in a university, the question far from being shepherded to its pen flies like a frightened flock hither and thither, helter-skelter, pur¬ sued by a whole pack of hounds. Professors, schoolmasters, sociolo¬ gists, clergymen, novelists, essayists, journalists, men who had no qualification save that they were not women, chased my simple and single question - Why are women poor? - until it became fifty ques¬ tions; until the fifty questions leapt frantically into mid-stream and were carried away. Every page in my notebook was scribbled over with notes. To show the state of mind I was in, I will read you a few of them, explaining that the page was headed quite simply, Women and Poverty, in block letters; but what followed was something like this:

Condition in Middle Ages of,

Habits in the Fiji Islands of,

Worshipped as goddesses by,

Weaker in moral sense than,

Idealism of,

Greater conscientiousness of,

South Sea Islanders, age of puberty among,


21


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


Attractiveness of,

Offered as sacrifice to,

Small size of brain of,

Profounder sub-consciousness of,

Less hair on the body of,

Mental, moral and physical inferiority of,

Love of children of,

Greater length of life of,

Weaker muscles of,

Strength of affections of,

Vanity of,

Higher education of,

Shakespeare’s opinion of,

Lord Birkenhead’s opinion of,

Dean Inge’s opinion of,

La Bruyere’s opinion of,

Dr. Johnson’s opinion of,

Mr. Oscar Browning’s opinion of, . . .

Here I drew breath and added, indeed, in the margin, Why does Samuel Butler say, “Wise men never say what they think of women?” Wise men never say anything else apparently. But, I continued, lean¬ ing back in my chair and looking at the vast dome in which I was a single but by now somewhat harassed thought, what is so unfortu¬ nate is that wise men never think the same thing about women. Here is Pope:


Most women have no character at all.

And here is La Bruyere:

Les femmes sont extremes; elles sont meilleures ou pires que les hommes -

a direct contradiction by keen observers who were contemporary. Are they capable of education or incapable? Napoleon thought them incap¬ able. Dr. Johnson thought the opposite. 1 Have they souls or have they


1 ‘“Men know that women are an overmatch for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or the most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.’ ... In justice to the sex, I think it but candid to acknowledge that, in a subsequent conversation, he told me that he was serious in what he said.” - Boswell, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.


22


CHAPTER II


not souls? Some savages say they have none. Others, on the contrary, maintain that women are half divine and worship them on that account. 2 Some sages hold that they are shallower in the brain; others that they are deeper in the consciousness. Goethe honoured them; Mussolini despises them. Wherever one looked men thought about women and thought differently. It was impossible to make head or tail of it all, I decided, glancing with envy at the reader next door who was making the neatest abstracts, headed often with an A or a B or a C, while my own notebook rioted with the wildest scribble of contradic¬ tory jottings. It was distressing, it was bewildering, it was humiliating. Truth had run through my fingers. Every drop had escaped.

I could not possibly go home, I reflected, and add as a serious con¬ tribution to the study of women and fiction that women have less hair on their bodies than men, or that the age of puberty among the South Sea Islanders is nine - or is it ninety? - even the handwriting had become in its distraction indecipherable. It was disgraceful to have nothing more weighty or respectable to show after a whole morning’s work. And if I could not grasp the truth about W. (as for brevity’s sake I had come to call her) in the past, why bother about W. in the future? It seemed pure waste of time to consult all those gentlemen who spe¬ cialise in woman and her effect on whatever it may be - politics, chil¬ dren, wages, morality - numerous and learned as they are. One might as well leave their books unopened.

But while I pondered I had unconsciously, in my listlessness, in my desperation, been drawing a picture where I should, like my neigh¬ bour, have been writing a conclusion. I had been drawing a face, a figure. It was the face and the figure of Professor von X. engaged in writing his monumental work entitled The Mental, Moral, and Physical Inferiority of the Female Sex. He was not in my picture a man attractive to women. He was heavily built; he had a great jowl; to balance that he had very small eyes; he was very red in the face. His expression suggested that he was labouring under some emotion that made him jab his pen on the paper as if he were killing some noxious insect as he wrote, but even when he had killed it that did not satisfy him; he must go on killing it; and even so, some cause for anger and irritation remained. Could it be his wife, I asked, looking at my pic¬ ture? Was she in love with a cavalry officer? Was the cavalry officer slim and elegant and dressed in astrachan? Had he been laughed at, to adopt the Freudian theory, in his cradle by a pretty girl? For even in


2 “The ancient Germans believed that there was something holy in women, and accordingly consulted them as oracles.” - Frazer, Golden Bough.


23


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


his cradle the professor, I thought, could not have been an attractive child. Whatever the reason, the professor was made to look very angry and very ugly in my sketch, as he wrote his great book upon the men¬ tal, moral and physical inferiority of women. Drawing pictures was an idle way of finishing an unprofitable morning’s work. Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top. A very elementary exercise in psychology, not to be dignified by the name of psycho-analysis, showed me, on looking at my notebook, that the sketch of the angry professor had been made in anger. Anger had snatched my pencil while I dreamt. But what was anger doing there? Interest, confusion, amusement, boredom - all these emotions I could trace and name as they succeeded each other throughout the morning. Had anger, the black snake, been lurking among them? Yes, said the sketch, anger had. It referred me unmistak¬ ably to the one book, to the one phrase, which had roused the demon; it was the professor’s statement about the mental, moral and physical inferiority of women. My heart had leapt. My cheeks had burnt. I had flushed with anger. There was nothing specially remarkable, however foolish, in that. One does not like to be told that one is naturally the inferior of a little man -1 looked at the student next me - who breathes hard, wears a ready-made tie, and has not shaved this fortnight. One has certain foolish vanities. It is only human nature, I reflected, and began drawing cartwheels and circles over the angry professor’s face till he looked like a burning bush or a flaming comet - anyhow, an apparition without human semblance or significance. The professor was nothing now but a faggot burning on the top of Hampstead Heath. Soon my own anger was explained and done with; but curios¬ ity remained. How explain the anger of the professors? Why were they angry? For when it came to analysing the impression left by these books there was always an element of heat. This heat took many forms; it showed itself in satire, in sentiment, in curiosity, in reproba¬ tion. But there was another element which was often present and could not immediately be identified. Anger, I called it. But it was anger that had gone underground and mixed itself with all kinds of other emotions. To judge from its odd effects, it was anger disguised and complex, not anger simple and open.

Whatever the reason, all these books, I thought, surveying the pile on the desk, are worthless for my purposes. They were worthless sci¬ entifically, that is to say, though humanly they were full of instruction, interest, boredom, and very queer facts about the habits of the Fiji Islanders. They had been written in the red light of emotion and not in the white light of truth. Therefore they must be returned to the


24


CHAPTER II


central desk and restored each to his own cell in the enormous honey¬ comb. All that I had retrieved from that morning’s work had been the one fact of anger. The professors -1 lumped them together thus - were angry. But why, I asked myself, having returned the books, why, I repeated, standing under the colonnade among the pigeons and the prehistoric canoes, why are they angry? And, asking myself this ques¬ tion, I strolled off to find a place for luncheon. What is the real nature of what I call for the moment their anger? I asked. Here was a puzzle that would last all the time that it takes to be served with food in a small restaurant somewhere near the British Museum. Some previous luncher had left the lunch edition of the evening paper on a chair, and, waiting to be served, I began idly reading the headlines. A ribbon of very large letters ran across the page. Somebody had made a big score in South Africa. Lesser ribbons announced that Sir Austen Chamberlain was at Geneva. A meat axe with human hair on it had been found in

a cellar. Mr. Justice-commented in the Divorce Courts upon

the Shamelessness of Women. Sprinkled about the paper were other pieces of news. A film actress had been lowered from a peak in California and hung suspended in mid-air. The weather was going to be foggy. The most transient visitor to this planet, I thought, who picked up this paper could not fail to be aware, even from this scat¬ tered testimony, that England is under the rule of a patriarchy. Nobody in their senses could fail to detect the dominance of the professor. His was the power and the money and the influence. He was the proprie¬ tor of the paper and its editor and sub-editor. He was the Foreign Secretary and the Judge. He was the cricketer; he owned the race¬ horses and the yachts. He was the director of the company that pays two hundred per cent to its shareholders. He left millions to charities and colleges that were ruled by himself. He suspended the film actress in mid-air. He will decide if the hair on the meat axe is human; he it is who will acquit or convict the murderer, and hang him, or let him go free. With the exception of the fog he seemed to control everything. Yet he was angry. I knew that he was angry by this token. When I read what he wrote about women I thought, not of what he was saying, but of himself . When an arguer argues dispassionately he thinks only of the argument; and the reader cannot help thinking of the argument too. If he had written dispassionately about women, had used indis¬ putable proofs to establish his argument and had shown no trace of wishing that the result should be one thing rather than another, one would not have been angry either. One would have accepted the fact, as one accepts the fact that a pea is green or a canary yellow. So be it, I should have said. But I had been angry because he was angry. Yet it


25


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


seemed absurd, I thought, turning over the evening paper, that a man with all this power should be angry. Or is anger, I wondered, some¬ how, the familiar, the attendant sprite on power? Rich people, for example, are often angry because they suspect that the poor want to seize their wealth. The professors, or patriarchs, as it might be more accurate to call them, might be angry for that reason partly, but partly for one that lies a little less obviously on the surface. Possibly they were not “angry” at all; often, indeed, they were admiring, devoted, exemplary in the relations of private life. Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority. That was what he was protecting rather hot-headedly and with too much emphasis, because it was a jewel to him of the rarest price. Life for both sexes - and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement - is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, crea¬ tures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we gener¬ ate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority - it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney - for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination - over other people. Hence the enormous importance to a patriarch who has to conquer, who has to rule, of feeling that great numbers of people, half the human race indeed, are by nature inferior to himself. It must indeed be one of the chief sources of his power. But let me turn the light of this observation on to real life, I thought. Does it help to explain some of those psychological puzzles that one notes in the margin of daily life? Does it explain my astonishment the other day when Z, most humane, most modest of men, taking up some book by Rebecca West and reading a passage in it, exclaimed, “The arrant feminist! She says that men are snobs!” The exclamation, to me so surprising - for why was Miss West an arrant feminist for making a possibly true if uncom¬ plimentary statement about the other sex? - was not merely the cry of wounded vanity; it was a protest against some infringement of his power to believe in himself. 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. Without that power prob¬ ably the earth would still be swamp and jungle. The glories of all our wars would be unknown. We should still be scratching the outlines of deer on the remains of mutton bones and bartering flints for sheep


26


CHAPTER II


skins or whatever simple ornament took our unsophisticated taste. Supermen and Fingers of Destiny would never have existed. The Czar and the Kaiser would never have worn crowns or lost them. Whatever may be their use in civilised societies, mirrors are essential to all vio¬ lent and heroic action. That is why Napoleon and Mussolini both insist so emphatically upon the inferiority of women, for if they were not inferior, they would cease to enlarge. That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men. And it serves to explain how restless they are under her criticism; how impossible it is for her to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or what¬ ever it may be, without giving far more pain and rousing far more anger than a man would do who gave the same criticism. For if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fit¬ ness for life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgement, civi¬ lising natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is? So I reflected, crumbling my bread and stirring my coffee and now and again looking at the people in the street. The looking-glass vision is of supreme importance because it charges the vitality; it stimulates the nervous system. Take it away and man may die, like the drug fiend deprived of his cocaine. Under the spell of that illusion, I thought, looking out of the window, half the people on the pavement are striding to work. They put on their hats and coats in the morning under its agreeable rays. They start the day confident, braced, believing themselves desired at Miss Smith’s tea party; they say to themselves as they go into the room, I am the supe¬ rior of half the people here, and it is thus that they speak with that self-confidence, that self-assurance, which have had such profound consequences in public life and lead to such curious notes in the margin of the private mind.

But these contributions to the dangerous and fascinating subject of the psychology of the other sex - it is one, I hope, that you will investigate when you have five hundred a year of your own - were interrupted by the necessity of paying the bill. It came to five shil¬ lings and ninepence. I gave the waiter a ten-shilling note and he went to bring me change. There was another ten-shilling note in my purse; I noticed it, because it is a fact that still takes my breath away - the power of my purse to breed ten-shilling notes automatic¬ ally. I open it and there they are. Society gives me chicken and coffee, bed and lodging, in return for a certain number of pieces of paper which were left me by an aunt, for no other reason than that I share her name.


27


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


My aunt, Mary Beton, I must tell you, died by a fall from her horse when she was riding out to take the air in Bombay. The news of my legacy reached me one night about the same time that the act was passed that gave votes to women. A solicitor’s letter fell into the post- box and when I opened it I found that she had left me five hundred pounds a year for ever. Of the two - the vote and the money - the money, I own, seemed infinitely the more important. Before that I had made my living by cadging odd jobs from newspapers, by reporting a donkey show here or a wedding there; I had earned a few pounds by addressing envelopes, reading to old ladies, making artificial flowers, teaching the alphabet to small children in a kindergarten. Such were the chief occupations that were open to women before 1918. I need not, I am afraid, describe in any detail the hardness of the work, for you know perhaps women who have done it; nor the difficulty of liv¬ ing on the money when it was earned, for you may have tried. But what still remains with me as a worse infliction than either was the poison of fear and bitterness which those days bred in me. To begin with, always to be doing work that one did not wish to do, and to do it like a slave, flattering and fawning, not always necessarily perhaps, but it seemed necessary and the stakes were too great to run risks; and then the thought of that one gift which it was death to hide - a small one but dear to the possessor - perishing and with it my self, my soul, - all this became like a rust eating away the bloom of the spring, destroying the tree at its heart. However, as I say, my aunt died; and whenever I change a ten-shilling note a little of that rust and corro¬ sion is rubbed off; fear and bitterness go. Indeed, I thought, slipping the silver into my purse, it is remarkable, remembering the bitterness of those days, what a change of temper a fixed income will bring about. No force in the world can take from me my five hundred pounds. Food, house and clothing are mine for ever. Therefore not merely do effort and labour cease, but also hatred and bitterness. I need not hate any man; he cannot hurt me. I need not flatter any man; he has nothing to give me. So imperceptibly I found myself adopting a new attitude towards the other half of the human race. It was absurd to blame any class or any sex, as a whole. Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do. They are driven by instincts which are not within their control. They too, the patriarchs, the professors, had endless difficulties, terrible drawbacks to contend with. Then- education had been in some ways as faulty as my own. It had bred in them defects as great. True, they had money and power, but only at the cost of harbouring in their breasts an eagle, a vulture, for ever tearing the liver out and plucking at the lungs - the instinct for


28


CHAPTER II


possession, the rage for acquisition which drives them to desire other people’s fields and goods perpetually; to make frontiers and flags; battleships and poison gas; to offer up their own lives and their chil¬ dren’s lives. Walk through the Admiralty Arch (I had reached that monument), or any other avenue given up to trophies and cannon, and reflect upon the kind of glory celebrated there. Or watch in the spring sunshine the stockbroker and the great barrister going indoors to make money and more money and more money when it is a fact that five hundred pounds a year will keep one alive in the sunshine. These are unpleasant instincts to harbour, I reflected. They are bred of the conditions of life; of the lack of civilisation, I thought, looking at the statue of the Duke of Cambridge, and in particular at the feathers in his cocked hat, with a fixity that they have scarcely ever received before. And, as I realised these drawbacks, by degrees fear and bitter¬ ness modified themselves into pity and toleration; and then in a year or two, pity and toleration went, and the greatest release of all came, which is freedom to think of things in themselves. That building, for example, do I like it or not? Is that picture beautiful or not? Is that in my opinion a good book or a bad? Indeed my aunt’s legacy unveiled the sky to me, and substituted for the large and imposing figure of a gentleman, which Milton recommended for my perpetual adoration, a view of the open sky.

So thinking, so speculating I found my way back to my house by the river. Lamps were being lit and an indescribable change had come over London since the morning hour. It was as if the great machine after labouring all day had made with our help a few yards of some¬ thing very exciting and beautiful - a fiery fabric flashing with red eyes, a tawny monster roaring with hot breath. Even the wind seemed flung like a flag as it lashed the houses and rattled the hoardings.

In my little street, however, domesticity prevailed. The house painter was descending his ladder; the nursemaid was wheeling the perambulator carefully in and out back to nursery tea; the coal-heaver was folding his empty sacks on top of each other; the woman who keeps the greengrocer’s shop was adding up the day’s takings with her hands in red mittens. But so engrossed was I with the problem you have laid upon my shoulders that I could not see even these usual sights without referring them to one centre. I thought how much harder it is now than it must have been even a century ago to say which of these employments is the higher, the more necessary. Is it better to be a coal-heaver or a nursemaid; is the charwoman who has brought up eight children of less value to the world than the barrister who has made a hundred thousand pounds? It is useless to ask such


29


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


questions; for nobody can answer them. Not only do the comparative values of charwomen and lawyers rise and fall from decade to decade, but we have no rods with which to measure them even as they are at the moment. I had been foolish to ask my professor to furnish me with “indisputable proofs” of this or that in his argument about women. Even if one could state the value of any one gift at the moment, those values will change; in a century’s time very possibly they will have changed completely. Moreover, in a hundred years, I thought, reaching my own doorstep, women will have ceased to be the protected sex. Logically they will take part in all the activities and exertions that were once denied them. The nursemaid will heave coal. The shopwoman will drive an engine. All assumptions founded on the facts observed when women were the protected sex will have disap¬ peared - as, for example (here a squad of soldiers marched down the street), that women and clergymen and gardeners live longer than other people. Remove that protection, expose them to the same exer¬ tions and activities, make them soldiers and sailors and engine-drivers and dock labourers, and will not women die off so much younger, so much quicker, than men that one will say, “I saw a woman to-day”, as one used to say, “I saw an aeroplane”. Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation, I thought, open¬ ing the door. But what bearing has all this upon the subject of my paper, Women and Fiction? I asked, going indoors.


30


CHAPTER III


It was disappointing not to have brought back in the evening some important statement, some authentic fact. Women are poorer than men because - this or that. Perhaps now it would be better to give up seeking for the truth, and receiving on one’s head an avalanche of opinion hot as lava, discoloured as dish-water. It would be better to draw the curtains; to shut out distractions; to light the lamp; to narrow the enquiry and to ask the historian, who records not opin¬ ions but facts, to describe under what conditions women lived, not throughout the ages, but in England, say in the time of Elizabeth.

For it is a perennial puzzle why no woman wrote a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capa¬ ble of song or sonnet. What were the conditions in which women lived, I asked myself; for fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in mid-air by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings, and are attached to grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.

I went, therefore, to the shelf where the histories stand and took down one of the latest, Professor Trevelyan’s History of England. Once more I looked up Women, found “position of” and turned to


A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf. Edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke. Published 2015 John Wiley Sc Sons, Ltd.


31


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


the pages indicated. “Wife-beating”, I read, “was a recognised right of man, and was practised without shame by high as well as low. . . . Similarly,” the historian goes on, “the daughter who refused to marry the gentleman of her parents’ choice was liable to be locked up, beaten and flung about the room, without any shock being inflicted on public opinion. Marriage was not an affair of personal affection, but of family avarice, particularly in the ‘chivalrous’ upper classes. . . . Betrothal often took place while one or both of the par¬ ties was in the cradle, and marriage when they were scarcely out of the nurses’ charge.” That was about 1470, soon after Chaucer’s time. The next reference to the position of women is some two hundred years later, in the time of the Stuarts. “It was still the exception for women of the upper and middle class to choose their own husbands, and when the husband had been assigned, he was lord and master, so far at least as law and custom could make him. Yet even so,” Professor Trevelyan concludes, “neither Shakespeare’s women nor those of authentic seventeenth-century memoirs, like the Verneys and the Hutchinsons, seem wanting in personality and character.” Certainly, if we consider it, Cleopatra must have had a way with her; Lady Macbeth, one would suppose, had a will of her own; Rosalind, one might conclude, was an attractive girl. Professor Trevelyan is speaking no more than the truth when he remarks that Shakespeare’s women do not seem wanting in personality and character. Not being a historian, one might go even further and say that women have burnt like beacons in all the works of all the poets from the begin¬ ning of time - Clytemnestra, Antigone, Cleopatra, Lady Macbeth, Phedre, Cressida, Rosalind, Desdemona, the Duchess of Malfi, among the dramatists; then among the prose writers: Millamant, Clarissa, Becky Sharp, Anna Karenine, Emma Bovary, Madame de Guermantes - the names flock to mind, nor do they recall women “lacking in personality and character.” Indeed, if woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance; very various; heroic and mean; splendid and sordid; infinitely beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as a man, some think even greater. 1 But this is woman in


1 “It remains a strange and almost inexplicable fact that in Athena’s city, where women were kept in almost Oriental suppression as odalisques or drudges, the stage should yet have produced figures like Clytemnestra and Cassandra, Atossa and Antigone, Phedre and Medea, and all the other heroines who dominate play after play of the ‘misogynist’ Euripides. But the paradox of this world where in real life a respectable woman could hardly show her face alone in the street, and yet on the stage woman equals or surpasses


32


CHAPTER III


fiction. In fact, as Professor Trevelyan points out, she was locked up, beaten and flung about the room.

A very queer, composite being thus emerges. Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from his¬ tory. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact she was the slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger. Some of the most inspired words, some of the most profound thoughts in literature fall from her lips; in real life she could hardly read, could scarcely spell, and was the property of her husband.

It was certainly an odd monster that one made up by reading the historians first and the poets afterwards - a worm winged like an eagle; the spirit of life and beauty in a kitchen chopping up suet. But these monsters, however amusing to the imagination, have no exist¬ ence in fact. What one must do to bring her to life was to think poetic¬ ally and prosaically at one and the same moment, thus keeping in touch with fact - that she is Mrs. Martin, aged thirty-six, dressed in blue, wearing a black hat and brown shoes; but not losing sight of fiction either - that she is a vessel in which all sorts of spirits and forces are coursing and flashing perpetually. The moment, however, that one tries this method with the Elizabethan woman, one branch of illumination fails; one is held up by the scarcity of facts. One knows nothing detailed, nothing perfectly true and substantial about her. History scarcely mentions her. And I turned to Professor Trevelyan again to see what history meant to him. I found by looking at his chapter headings that it meant -

“The Manor Court and the Methods of Open-field Agriculture . . . The Cistercians and Sheep-farming ... The Crusades ... The University ... The House of Commons ... The Hundred Years’ War ... The Wars of the Roses . . . The Renaissance Scholars . . . The Dissolution of the Monasteries ... Agrarian and Religious Strife ... The Origin of English Sea-power .. . The Armada .. .” and so on. Occasionally an individual woman is mentioned, an Elizabeth, or a Mary; a queen or a great lady. But by no possible means could middle-class women with nothing but


man, has never been satisfactorily explained. In modern tragedy the same predominance exists. At all events, a very cursory survey of Shakespeare’s work (similarly with Webster, though not with Marlowe or Jonson) suffices to reveal how this dominance, this initiative of women, persists from Rosalind to Lady Macbeth. So too in Racine; six of his tragedies bear their heroines’ names; and what male characters of his shall we set against Hermione and Andromaque, Berenice and Roxane, Phedre and Athalie? So again with Ibsen; what men shall we match with Solveig and Nora, Heda and Hilda Wangel and Rebecca West?” - F. L. Lucas, Tragedy, pp. 114-15.


33



A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


brains and character at their command have taken part in any one of the great movements which, brought together, constitute the historian’s view of the past. Nor shall we find her in any collection of anecdotes. Aubrey hardly mentions her. She never writes her own life and scarcely keeps a diary; there are only a handful of her letters in existence. She left no plays or poems by which we can judge her. What one wants, I thought - and why does not some brilliant student at Newnham or Girton supply it? - is a mass of information; at what age did she marry; how many children had she as a rule; what was her house like; had she a room to herself; did she do the cooking; would she be likely to have a servant? All these facts lie somewhere, presumably, in parish registers and account books; the life of the average Elizabethan woman must be scattered about somewhere, could one collect it and make a book of it. It would be ambitious beyond my daring, I thought, looking about the shelves for books that were not there, to suggest to the stu¬ dents of those famous colleges that they should rewrite history, though I own that it often seems a little queer as it is, unreal, lop-sided; but why should they not add a supplement to history? calling it, of course, by some inconspicuous name so that women might figure there without impropriety? For one often catches a glimpse of them in the lives of the great, whisking away into the background, concealing, I sometimes think, a wink, a laugh, perhaps a tear. And, after all, we have lives enough of Jane Austen; it scarcely seems necessary to consider again the influence of the tragedies of Joanna Baillie upon the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe; as for myself, I should not mind if the homes and haunts of Mary Russell Mitford were closed to the public for a century at least. But what I find deplorable, I continued, looking about the bookshelves again, is that nothing is known about women before the eighteenth century. I have no model in my mind to turn about this way and that. Here am I asking why women did not write poetry in the Elizabethan age, and I am not sure how they were educated; whether they were taught to write; whether they had sitting-rooms to themselves; how many women had children before they were twenty-one; what, in short, they did from eight in the morning till eight at night. They had no money evidently; according to Professor Trevelyan they were married whether they liked it or not before they were out of the nursery, at fifteen or sixteen very likely. It would have been extremely odd, even upon this showing, had one of them suddenly written the plays of Shakespeare, I concluded, and I thought of that old gentleman, who is dead now, but was a bishop, I think, who declared that it was impos¬ sible for any woman, past, present, or to come, to have the genius of Shakespeare. He wrote to the papers about it. He also told a lady who


34


CHAPTER III


applied to him for information that cats do not as a matter of fact go to heaven, though they have, he added, souls of a sort. How much think¬ ing those old gentlemen used to save one! How the borders of igno¬ rance shrank back at their approach! Cats do not go to heaven. Women cannot write the plays of Shakespeare.

Be that as it may, I could not help thinking, as I looked at the works of Shakespeare on the shelf, that the bishop was right at least in this; it would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare. Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably, - his mother was an heiress - to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin - Ovid, Virgil and Horace - and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right. That escapade sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door. Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the uni¬ verse, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practising his art on the boards, exercising his wits in the streets, and even getting access to the palace of the queen. Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home. She was as adventurous, as imagina¬ tive, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter - indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly, but was careful to hide them or set fire to them. Soon, however, before she was out of her teens, she was to be betrothed to the son of a neighbouring wool-stapler. She cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father. Then he ceased to scold her. He begged her instead not to hurt him, not to shame him in this matter of her marriage. He would give her a chain of beads or a fine petticoat, he said; and there were tears in his eyes. How could she disobey him?


35


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove her to it. She made up a small parcel of her belongings, let herself down by a rope one summer’s night and took the road to London. She was not seventeen. The birds that sang in the hedge were not more musical than she was. She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her bro¬ ther’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face. The manager - a fat, loose-lipped man - guffawed. He bellowed something about poodles dancing and women acting - no woman, he said, could possibly be an actress. He hinted - you can imagine what. She could get no training in her craft. Could she even seek her dinner in a tavern or roam the streets at midnight? Yet her genius was for fiction and lusted to feed abundantly upon the lives of men and women and the study of their ways. At last - for she was very young, oddly like Shakespeare the poet in her face, with the same grey eyes and rounded brows - at last Nick Greene the actor-manager took pity on her; she found herself with child by that gentleman and so - who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body? - killed herself one winter’s night and lies buried at some cross-roads where the omnibuses now stop outside the Elephant and Castle.

That, more or less, is how the story would run, I think, if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius. But for my part, I agree with the deceased bishop, if such he was - it is unthinkable that any woman in Shakespeare’s day should have had Shakespeare’s genius. For genius like Shakespeare’s is not born among labouring, uneducated, servile people. It was not born in England among the Saxons and the Britons. It is not born to-day among the working classes. How, then, could it have been born among women whose work began, according to Professor Trevelyan, almost before they were out of the nursery, who were forced to it by their parents and held to it by all the power of law and custom? Yet genius of a sort must have existed among women as it must have existed among the working classes. Now and again an Emily Bronte or a Robert Burns blazes out and proves its presence. But certainly it never got itself on to paper. When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to. Indeed, I would venture


36


CHAPTER III


to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman. It was a woman Edward Fitzgerald, I think, sug¬ gested who made the ballads and the folk-songs, crooning them to her children, beguiling her spinning with them, or the length of the winter’s night.

This may be true or it may be false - who can say? - but what is true in it, so it seemed to me, reviewing the story of Shakespeare’s sister as I had made it, is that any woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at. For it needs little skill in psychol¬ ogy to be sure that a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty. No girl could have walked to Fondon and stood at a stage door and forced her way into the presence of actor-managers without doing herself a violence and suffering an anguish which may have been irrational - for chastity may be a fetish invented by certain societies for unknown reasons - but were none the less inevitable. Chastity had then, it has even now, a religious importance in a woman’s life, and has so wrapped itself round with nerves and instincts that to cut it free and bring it to the light of day demands courage of the rarest. To have lived a free life in Fondon in the sixteenth century would have meant for a woman who was poet and playwright a nervous stress and dilemma which might well have killed her. Had she survived, whatever she had written would have been twisted and deformed, issuing from a strained and morbid imagination. And undoubtedly, I thought, looking at the shelf where there are no plays by women, her work would have gone unsigned. That refuge she would have sought certainly. It was the relic of the sense of chastity that dictated anonymity to women even so late as the nineteenth century. Currer Bell, George Eliot, George Sand, all the victims of inner strife as their writings prove, sought ineffectively to veil themselves by using the name of a man. Thus they did homage to the convention, which if not implanted by the other sex was liber¬ ally encouraged by them (the chief glory of a woman is not to be talked of, said Pericles, himself a much-talked-of man) that publicity in women is detestable. Anonymity runs in their blood. The desire to be veiled still possesses them. They are not even now as concerned about the health of their fame as men are, and, speaking generally, will pass a tombstone or a signpost without feeling an irresistible desire to cut their names on it, as Alf, Bert or Chas. must do in


37


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


obedience to their instinct, which murmurs if it sees a fine woman go by, or even a dog, Ce chien est a moi. And, of course, it may not be a dog, I thought, remembering Parliament Square, the Sieges Allee and other avenues; it may be a piece of land or a man with curly black hair. It is one of the great advantages of being a woman that one can pass even a very fine negress without wishing to make an Englishwoman of her.

That woman, then, who was born with a gift of poetry in the sixteenth century, was an unhappy woman, a woman at strife against herself. All the conditions of her life, all her own instincts, were hostile to the state of mind which is needed to set free whatever is in the brain. But what is the state of mind that is most propitious to the act of creation, I asked? Can one come by any notion of the state that fur¬ thers and makes possible that strange activity? Here I opened the vol¬ ume containing the Tragedies of Shakespeare. What was Shakespeare’s state of mind, for instance, when he wrote Lear and Antony and Cleopatra ? It was certainly the state of mind most favourable to poetry that there has ever existed. But Shakespeare himself said nothing about it. We only know casually and by chance that he “never blotted a line”. Nothing indeed was ever said by the artist himself about his state of mind until the eighteenth century perhaps. Rousseau perhaps began it. At any rate, by the nineteenth century self-consciousness had devel¬ oped so far that it was the habit for men of letters to describe their minds in confessions and autobiographies. Their lives also were writ¬ ten, and their letters were printed after their deaths. Thus, though we do not know what Shakespeare went through when he wrote Lear, we do know what Carlyle went through when he wrote the French Revolution ; what Flaubert went through when he wrote Madame Bovary ; what Keats was going through when he tried to write poetry against the coming of death and the indifference of the world.

And one gathers from this enormous modern literature of confes¬ sion and self-analysis that to write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer’s mind whole and entire. Generally mater¬ ial circumstances are against it. Dogs will bark; people will interrupt; money must be made; health will break down. Further, accentuating all these difficulties and making them harder to bear is the world’s notorious indifference. It does not ask people to write poems and novels and histories; it does not need them. It does not care whether Flaubert finds the right word or whether Carlyle scrupulously verifies this or that fact. Naturally, it will not pay for what it does not want. And so the writer, Keats, Flaubert, Carlyle, suffers, especially in the


38


CHAPTER III


creative years of youth, every form of distraction and discourage¬ ment. A curse, a cry of agony, rises from those books of analysis and confession. “Mighty poets in their misery dead” - that is the burden of their song. If anything comes through in spite of all this, it is a miracle, and probably no book is born entire and uncrippled as it was conceived.

But for women, I thought, looking at the empty shelves, these diffi¬ culties were infinitely more formidable. In the first place, to have a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a sound-proof room, was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble, even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Since her pin money, which depended on the goodwill of her father, was only enough to keep her clothed, she was debarred from such alleviations as came even to Keats or Tennyson or Carlyle, all poor men, from a walking tour, a little journey to France, from the separate lodging which, even if it were miserable enough, sheltered them from the claims and tyran¬ nies of their families. Such material difficulties were formidable; but much worse were the immaterial. The indifference of the world which Keats and Flaubert and other men of genius have found so hard to bear was in her case not indifference but hostility. The world did not say to her as it said to them, Write if you choose; it makes no difference to me. The world said with a guffaw, Write? What’s the good of your writing? Here the psychologists of Newnham and Girton might come to our help, I thought, looking again at the blank spaces on the shelves. For surely it is time that the effect of discouragement upon the mind of the artist should be measured, as I have seen a dairy company measure the effect of ordinary milk and Grade A milk upon the body of the rat. They set two rats in cages side by side, and of the two one was furtive, timid and small, and the other was glossy, bold and big. Now what food do we feed women as artists upon? I asked, remembering, I sup¬ pose, that dinner of prunes and custard. To answer that question I had only to open the evening paper and to read that Lord Birkenhead is of opinion - but really I am not going to trouble to copy out Lord Birkenhead’s opinion upon the writing of women. What Dean Inge says I will leave in peace. The Harley Street specialist may be allowed to rouse the echoes of Harley Street with his vociferations without raising a hair on my head. I will quote, however, Mr. Oscar Browning, because Mr. Oscar Browning was a great figure in Cambridge at one time, and used to examine the students at Girton and Newnham. Mr. Oscar Browning was wont to declare “that the impression left on his mind, after looking over any set of examination papers, was that, irre¬ spective of the marks he might give, the best woman was intellectually


39


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


the inferior of the worst man”. After saying that Mr. Browning went back to his rooms - and it is this sequel that endears him and makes him a human figure of some bulk and majesty - he went back to his rooms and found a stable-boy lying on the sofa - “a mere skeleton, his cheeks were cavernous and sallow, his teeth were black, and he did not appear to have the full use of his limbs. . . . ‘That’s Arthur’ [said Mr. Browning], ‘He’s a dear boy really and most high-minded.’” The two pictures always seem to me to complete each other. And happily in this age of biography the two pictures often do complete each other, so that we are able to interpret the opinions of great men not only by what they say, but by what they do.

But though this is possible now, such opinions coming from the lips of important people must have been formidable enough even fifty years ago. Let us suppose that a father from the highest motives did not wish his daughter to leave home and become writer, painter or scholar. “See what Mr. Oscar Browning says,” he would say; and there was not only Mr. Oscar Browning; there was the Saturday Review ; there was Mr. Greg - the “essentials of a woman’s being”, said Mr. Greg emphatically, “are that they are supported by, and they minister to, men ” - there was an enormous body of masculine opinion to the effect that nothing could be expected of women intellectually. Even if her father did not read out loud these opinions, any girl could read them for herself; and the read¬ ing, even in the nineteenth century, must have lowered her vitality, and told profoundly upon her work. There would always have been that assertion - you cannot do this, you are incapable of doing that - to protest against, to overcome. Probably for a novelist this germ is no longer of much effect; for there have been women novelists of merit. But for painters it must still have some sting in it; and for musicians, I imagine, is even now active and poisonous in the extreme. The woman composer stands where the actress stood in the time of Shakespeare. Nick Greene, I thought, remembering the story I had made about Shakespeare’s sister, said that a woman acting put him in mind of a dog dancing. Johnson repeated the phrase two hundred years later of women preaching. And here, I said, opening a book about music, we have the very words used again in this year of grace, 1928, of women who try to write music. “Of Mile. Germaine Tailleferre one can only repeat Dr. Johnson’s dictum concerning a woman preacher, transposed into terms of music. ‘Sir, a woman’s composing is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.’” 2 So accurately does history repeat itself.


2 A Survey of Contemporary Music, Cecil Gray, p. 246.


40


CHAPTER III


Thus, I concluded, shutting Mr. Oscar Browning’s life and pushing away the rest, it is fairly evident that even in the nineteenth century a woman was not encouraged to be an artist. On the contrary, she was snubbed, slapped, lectured and exhorted. Her mind must have been strained and her vitality lowered by the need of opposing this, of disproving that. For here again we come within range of that very interesting and obscure masculine complex which has had so much influence upon the woman’s movement; that deep-seated desire, not so much that she shall be inferior as that he shall be superior, which plants him wherever one looks, not only in front of the arts, but barring the way to politics too, even when the risk to himself seems infinitesimal and the suppliant humble and devoted. Even Lady Bessborough, I remembered, with all her passion for politics, must humbly bow herself and write to Lord Granville Leveson-Gower: “... notwithstanding all my violence in politicks and talking so much on that subject, I perfectly agree with you that no woman has any busi¬ ness to meddle with that or any other serious business, farther than giving her opinion (if she is ask’d).” And so she goes on to spend her enthusiasm where it meets with no obstacle whatsoever, upon that immensely important subject, Lord Granville’s maiden speech in the House of Commons. The spectacle is certainly a strange one, I thought. The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself. An amusing book might be made of it if some young student at Girton or Newnham would collect examples and deduce a theory, - but she would need thick gloves on her hands, and bars to protect her of solid gold.

But what is amusing now, I recollected, shutting Lady Bessborough, had to be taken in desperate earnest once. Opinions that one now pastes in a book labelled cock-a-doodle-dum and keeps for reading to select audiences on summer nights once drew tears, I can assure you. Among your grandmothers and great-grandmothers there were many that wept their eyes out. Florence Nightingale shrieked aloud in her agony. 3 Moreover, it is all very well for you, who have got your¬ selves to college and enjoy sitting-rooms - or is it only bed-sitting- rooms? - of your own to say that genius should disregard such opinions; that genius should be above caring what is said of it. Unfortunately, it is precisely the men or women of genius who mind most what is said of them. Remember Keats. Remember the words he had cut on his tombstone. Think of Tennyson; think - but I need


3 See Cassandra, by Florence Nightingale, printed in The Cause, by R. Strachey.


41


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


hardly multiply instances of the undeniable if very unfortunate, fact that it is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.

And this susceptibility of theirs is doubly unfortunate, I thought, returning again to my original enquiry into what state of mind is most propitious for creative work, because the mind of an artist, in order to achieve the prodigious effort of freeing whole and entire the work that is in him, must be incandescent, like Shakespeare’s mind, I con¬ jectured, looking at the book which lay open at Antony and Cleopatra. There must be no obstacle in it, no foreign matter unconsumed.

For though we say that we know nothing about Shakespeare’s state of mind, even as we say that, we are saying something about Shakespeare’s state of mind. The reason perhaps why we know so little of Shakespeare - compared with Donne or Ben Jonson or Milton - is that his grudges and spites and antipathies are hidden from us. We are not held up by some “revelation” which reminds us of the writer. All desire to protest, to preach, to proclaim an injury, to pay off a score, to make the world the witness of some hardship or grievance was fired out of him and consumed. Therefore his poetry flows from him free and unimpeded. If ever a human being got his work expressed completely, it was Shakespeare. If ever a mind was incandescent, unimpeded, I thought, turning again to the bookcase, it was Shakespeare’s mind.


42


CHAPTER IV


That one would find any woman in that state of mind in the sixteenth century was obviously impossible. One has only to think of the Elizabethan tombstones with all those children kneeling with clasped hands; and their early deaths; and to see their houses with their dark, cramped rooms, to realise that no woman could have written poetry then. What one would expect to find would be that rather later perhaps some great lady would take advantage of her comparative freedom and comfort to publish something with her name to it and risk being thought a monster. Men, of course, are not snobs, I continued, carefully eschewing “the arrant feminism” of Miss Rebecca West; but they appre¬ ciate with sympathy for the most part the efforts of a countess to write verse. One would expect to find a lady of title meeting with far greater encouragement than an unknown Miss Austen or a Miss Bronte at that time would have met with. But one would also expect to find that her mind was disturbed by alien emotions like fear and hatred and that her poems showed traces of that disturbance. Here is Lady Winchilsea, for example, I thought, taking down her poems. She was born in the year 1661; she was noble both by birth and by marriage; she was childless; she wrote poetry, and one has only to open her poetry to find her burst¬ ing out in indignation against the position of women:

How are we fallen! fallen by mistaken rules,

And Education’s more than Nature’s fools;

Debarred from all improvements of the mind,

And to be dull, expected and designed;


A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf. Edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke. Published 2015 John Wiley Sc Sons, Ltd.


43


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


And if someone would soar above the rest,

With warmer fancy, and ambition pressed,

So strong the opposing faction still appears,

The hopes to thrive can ne’er outweigh the fears.

Clearly her mind has by no means “consumed all impediments and become incandescent”. On the contrary, it is harassed and distracted with hates and grievances. The human race is split up for her into two parties. Men are the “opposing faction”; men are hated and feared, because they have the power to bar her way to what she wants to do - which is to write.

Alas! a woman that attempts the pen,

Such a presumptuous creature is esteemed,

The fault can by no virtue be redeemed.

They tell us we mistake our sex and way;

Good breeding, fashion, dancing, dressing, play,

Are the accomplishments we should desire;

To write, or read, or think, or to enquire,

Would cloud our beauty, and exhaust our time,

And interrupt the conquests of our prime,

Whilst the dull manage of a servile house Is held by some our utmost art and use.

Indeed she has to encourage herself to write by supposing that what she writes will never be published; to soothe herself with the sad chant:

To some few friends, and to thy sorrows sing,

For groves of laurel thou wert never meant;

Be dark enough thy shades, and be thou there content.

Yet it is clear that could she have freed her mind from hate and fear and not heaped it with bitterness and resentment, the fire was hot within her. Now and again words issue of pure poetry:

Nor will in fading silks compose,

Faintly the inimitable rose.

- they are rightly praised by Mr. Murry, and Pope, it is thought, remembered and appropriated those others:

Now the jonquille o’ercomes the feeble brain;

We faint beneath the aromatic pain.


44


CHAPTER IV


It was a thousand pities that the woman who could write like that, whose mind was tuned to nature and reflection, should have been forced to anger and bitterness. But how could she have helped herself? I asked, imagining the sneers and the laughter, the adulation of the toadies, the scepticism of the professional poet. She must have shut herself up in a room in the country to write, and been torn asunder by bitterness and scruples perhaps, though her husband was of the kind¬ est, and their married life perfection. She “must have”, I say, because when one comes to seek out the facts about Lady Winchilsea, one finds, as usual, that almost nothing is known about her. She suffered terribly from melancholy, which we can explain at least to some extent when we find her telling us how in the grip of it she would imagine:

My lines decried, and my employment thought An useless folly or presumptuous fault:

The employment, which was thus censured, was, as far as one can see, the harmless one of rambling about the fields and dreaming:

My hand delights to trace unusual things,

And deviates from the known and common way,

Nor will in fading silks compose,

Faintly the inimitable rose.

Naturally, if that was her habit and that was her delight, she could only expect to be laughed at; and, accordingly, Pope or Gay is said to have satirised her “as a blue-stocking with an itch for scribbling”. Also it is thought that she offended Gay by laughing at him. She said that his Trivia showed that “he was more proper to walk before a chair than to ride in one”. But this is all “dubious gossip” and, says Mr. Murry, “uninteresting”. But there I do not agree with him, for I should have liked to have had more even of dubious gossip so that I might have found out or made up some image of this melancholy lady, who loved wandering in the fields and thinking about unusual things and scorned, so rashly, so unwisely, “the dull manage of a servile house”. But she became diffuse, Mr. Murry says. Her gift is all grown about with weeds and bound with briars. It had no chance of showing itself for the fine distinguished gift it was. And so, putting her back on the shelf, I turned to the other great lady, the Duchess whom Lamb loved, hare-brained, fantastical Margaret of Newcastle, her elder, but her contemporary. They were very different, but alike in this that both were noble and both childless, and both were married to the best of


45


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


husbands. In both burnt the same passion for poetry and both are disfigured and deformed by the same causes. Open the Duchess and one finds the same outburst of rage, “Women live like Bats or Owls, labour like Beasts, and die like Worms.. ..” Margaret too might have been a poet; in our day all that activity would have turned a wheel of some sort. As it was, what could bind, tame or civilise for human use that wild, generous, untutored intelligence? It poured itself out, higgledy-piggledy, in torrents of rhyme and prose, poetry and philoso¬ phy which stand congealed in quartos and folios that nobody ever reads. She should have had a microscope put in her hand. She should have been taught to look at the stars and reason scientifically. Her wits were turned with solitude and freedom. No one checked her. No one taught her. The professors fawned on her. At Court they jeered at her. Sir Egerton Brydges complained of her coarseness - “as flowing from a female of high rank brought up in the Courts”. She shut herself up at Welbeck alone.

What a vision of loneliness and riot the thought of Margaret Cavendish brings to mind! as if some giant cucumber had spread itself over all the roses and carnations in the garden and choked them to death. What a waste that the woman who wrote “the best bred women are those whose minds are civilest” should have frittered her time away scribbling nonsense and plunging ever deeper into obscurity and folly till the people crowded round her coach when she issued out. Evidently the crazy Duchess became a bogey to frighten clever girls with. Here, I remembered, putting away the Duchess and open¬ ing Dorothy Osborne’s letters, is Dorothy writing to Temple about the Duchess’s new book. “Sure the poore woman is a little distracted, shee could never bee soe rediculous else as to venture at writeing book’s and in verse too, if I should not sleep this fortnight I should not come to that.”

And so, since no woman of sense and modesty could write books, Dorothy, who was sensitive and melancholy, the very opposite of the Duchess in temper, wrote nothing. Letters did not count. A woman might write letters while she was sitting by her father’s sick-bed. She could write them by the fire whilst the men talked without disturbing them. The strange thing is, I thought, turning over the pages of Dorothy’s letters, what a gift that untaught and solitary girl had for the framing of a sentence, for the fashioning of a scene. Listen to her running on:

“After dinner wee sitt and talk till Mr. B. corn’s in question and then I am gon. the heat of the day is spent in reading or working and about sixe or seven a Clock, I walke out into a Common that lyes


46


CHAPTER IV


hard by the house where a great many young wenches keep Sheep and Cow’s and sitt in the shades singing of Ballads; I goe to them and compare their voyces and Beauty’s to some Ancient Shepherdesses that I have read of and finde a vaste difference there, but trust mee I think these are as innocent as those could bee. I talke to them, and finde they want nothing to make them the happiest People in the world, but the knoledge that they are soe. most commonly when we are in the middest of our discourse one looks aboute her and spyes her Cow’s goeing into the Corne and then away they all run, as if they had wing’s at theire heels. I that am not soe nimble stay behinde, and when I see them driveing home theire Cattle I think tis time for mee to retyre too. when I have supped I goe into the Garden and soe to the syde of a small River that runs by it where I sitt downe and wish you with mee. .. .”

One could have sworn that she had the makings of a writer in her. But “if I should not sleep this fortnight I should not come to that” - one can measure the opposition that was in the air to a woman writ¬ ing when one finds that even a woman with a great turn for writing has brought herself to believe that to write a book was to be ridicu¬ lous, even to show oneself distracted. And so we come, I continued, replacing the single short volume of Dorothy Osborne’s letters upon the shelf, to Mrs. Behn.

And with Mrs. Behn we turn a very important corner on the road. We leave behind, shut up in their parks among their folios, those soli¬ tary great ladies who wrote without audience or criticism, for their own delight alone. We come to town and rub shoulders with ordinary people in the streets. Mrs. Behn was a middle-class woman with all the plebeian virtues of humour, vitality and courage; a woman forced by the death of her husband and some unfortunate adventures of her own to make her living by her wits. She had to work on equal terms with men. She made, by working very hard, enough to live on. The importance of that fact outweighs anything that she actually wrote, even the splendid “A Thousand Martyrs I have made”, or “Love in Fantastic Triumph sat”, for here begins the freedom of the mind, or rather the possibility that in the course of time the mind will be free to write what it likes. For now that Aphra Behn had done it, girls could go to their parents and say, You need not give me an allowance; I can make money by my pen. Of course the answer for many years to come was, Yes, by living the life of Aphra Behn! Death would be bet¬ ter! and the door was slammed faster than ever. That profoundly interesting subject, the value that men set upon women’s chastity and its effect upon their education, here suggests itself for discussion, and


47


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


might provide an interesting book if any student at Girton or Newnham cared to go into the matter. Lady Dudley, sitting in dia¬ monds among the midges of a Scottish moor, might serve for frontis¬ piece. Lord Dudley, The Times said when Lady Dudley died the other day, “a man of cultivated taste and many accomplishments, was benevolent and bountiful, but whimsically despotic. He insisted upon his wife’s wearing full dress, even at the remotest shooting-lodge in the Highlands; he loaded her with gorgeous jewels”, and so on, “he gave her everything - always excepting any measure of responsibil¬ ity”. Then Lord Dudley had a stroke and she nursed him and ruled his estates with supreme competence for ever after. That whimsical despotism was in the nineteenth century too.

But to return. Aphra Behn proved that money could be made by writing at the sacrifice, perhaps, of certain agreeable qualities; and so by degrees writing became not merely a sign of folly and a distracted mind, but was of practical importance. A husband might die, or some disaster overtake the family. Hundreds of women began as the eighteenth century drew on to add to their pin money, or to come to the rescue of their families by making translations or writing the innumerable bad novels which have ceased to be recorded even in text-books, but are to be picked up in the fourpenny boxes in the Charing Cross Road. The extreme activity of mind which showed itself in the later eighteenth century among women - the talking, and the meeting, the writing of essays on Shakespeare, the translating of the classics - was founded on the solid fact that women could make money by writing. Money dignifies what is frivolous if unpaid for. It might still be well to sneer at “blue stockings with an itch for scribbling”, but it could not be denied that they could put money in their purses. Thus, towards the end of the eighteenth century a change came about which, if I were rewriting history, I should describe more fully and think of greater importance than the Crusades or the Wars of the Roses. The middle- class woman began to write. For if Pride and Prejudice matters, and Middlemarch and Villette and Wuthering Heights matter, then it mat¬ ters far more than I can prove in an hour’s discourse that women gen¬ erally, and not merely the lonely aristocrat shut up in her country house among her folios and her flatterers, took to writing. Without those forerunners, Jane Austen and the Brontes and George Eliot could no more have written than Shakespeare could have written without Marlowe, or Marlowe without Chaucer, or Chaucer without those forgotten poets who paved the ways and tamed the natural savagery of the tongue. For masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by


48


CHAPTER IV


the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice. Jane Austen should have laid a wreath upon the grave of Fanny Burney, and George Eliot done homage to the robust shade of Eliza Carter - the valiant old woman who tied a bell to her bedstead in order that she might wake early and learn Greek. All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds. It is she - shady and amorous as she was - who makes it not quite fantastic for me to say to you to-night: Earn five hundred a year by your wits.

Here, then, one had reached the early nineteenth century. And here, for the first time, I found several shelves given up entirely to the works of women. But why, I could not help asking, as I ran my eyes over them, were they, with very few exceptions, all novels? The original impulse was to poetry. The “supreme head of song” was a poetess. Both in France and in England the women poets precede the women novelists. Moreover, I thought, looking at the four famous names, what had George Eliot in common with Emily Bronte? Did not Charlotte Bronte fail entirely to understand Jane Austen? Save for the possibly relevant fact that not one of them had a child, four more incongruous characters could not have met together in a room - so much so that it is tempting to invent a meeting and a dialogue between them. Yet by some strange force they were all compelled when they wrote, to write novels. Had it something to do with being born of the middle class, I asked; and with the fact, which Miss Emily Davies a little later was so strikingly to demonstrate, that the middle-class family in the early nineteenth century was possessed only of a single sitting-room between them? If a woman wrote, she would have to write in the common sitting-room. And, as Miss Nightingale was so vehemently to complain, - “women never have an half hour . . . that they can call their own” - she was always interrupted. Still it would be easier to write prose and fiction there than to write poetry or a play. Less concentration is required. Jane Austen wrote like that to the end of her days. “How she was able to effect all this”, her nephew writes in his Memoir, “is surprising, for she had no separate study to repair to, and most of the work must have been done in the general sitting- room, subject to all kinds of casual interruptions. She was careful that her occupation should not be suspected by servants or visitors or any persons beyond her own family party”. 1 Jane Austen hid her manu¬ scripts or covered them with a piece of blotting-paper. Then, again, all


1 Memoir of ]ane Austen, by her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh.


49


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


the literary training that a woman had in the early nineteenth century was training in the observation of character, in the analysis of emo¬ tion. Her sensibility had been educated for centuries by the influences of the common sitting-room. People’s feelings were impressed on her; personal relations were always before her eyes. Therefore, when the middle-class woman took to writing, she naturally wrote novels, even though, as seems evident enough, two of the four famous women here named were not by nature novelists. Emily Bronte should have writ¬ ten poetic plays; the overflow of George Eliot’s capacious mind should have spread itself when the creative impulse was spent upon history or biography. They wrote novels, however; one may even go further, I said, taking Pride and Prejudice from the shelf, and say that they wrote good novels. Without boasting or giving pain to the opposite sex, one may say that Pride and Prejudice is a good book. At any rate, one would not have been ashamed to have been caught in the act of writing Pride and Prejudice. Yet Jane Austen was glad that a hinge creaked, so that she might hide her manuscript before anyone came in. To Jane Austen there was something discreditable in writing Pride and Prejudice. And, I wondered, would Pride and Prejudice have been a better novel if Jane Austen had not thought it necessary to hide her manuscript from visitors? I read a page or two to see; but I could not find any signs that her circumstances had harmed her work in the slightest. That, perhaps, was the chief miracle about it. Here was a woman about the year 1800 writing without hate, without bitterness, without fear, without protest, without preaching. That was how Shakespeare wrote, I thought, looking at Antony and Cleopatra-, and when people compare Shakespeare and Jane Austen, they may mean that the minds of both had consumed all impediments; and for that reason we do not know Jane Austen and we do not know Shakespeare, and for that reason Jane Austen pervades every word that she wrote, and so does Shakespeare. If Jane Austen suffered in any way from her circumstances it was in the narrowness of life that was imposed upon her. It was impossible for a woman to go about alone. She never trav¬ elled; she never drove through London in an omnibus or had lunch¬ eon in a shop by herself. But perhaps it was the nature of Jane Austen not to want what she had not. Her gift and her circumstances matched each other completely. But I doubt whether that was true of Charlotte Bronte, I said, opening Jane Eyre and laying it beside Pride and Prejudice.

I opened it at Chapter Twelve and my eye was caught by the phrase “Anybody may blame me who likes”. What were they blaming Charlotte Bronte for? I wondered. And I read how Jane Eyre used to


50


CHAPTER IV


go up on to the roof when Mrs. Fairfax was making jellies and looked over the fields at the distant view. And then she longed - and it was for this that they blamed her - that “then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen: that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character than was here within my reach. I valued what was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adele; but I believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness, and what I believed in I wished to behold.

“Who blames me? Many, no doubt, and I shall be called discon¬ tented. I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agi¬ tated me to pain sometimes. .. .

“It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquil¬ lity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebel¬ lions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow¬ minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stock¬ ings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

“When thus alone I not unfrequently heard Grace Poole’s laugh....”

That is an awkward break, I thought. It is upsetting to come upon Grace Poole all of a sudden. The continuity is disturbed. One might say, I continued, laying the book down beside Pride and Prejudice, that the woman who wrote those pages had more genius in her than Jane Austen; but if one reads them over and marks that jerk in them, that indignation, one sees that she will never get her genius expressed whole and entire. Her books will be deformed and twisted. She will write in a rage where she should write calmly. She will write foolishly where she should write wisely. She will write of herself where she should write of her characters. She is at war with her lot. How could she help but die young, cramped and thwarted?

One could not but play for a moment with the thought of what might have happened if Charlotte Bronte had possessed say three


51


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


hundred a year - but the foolish woman sold the copyright of her novels outright for fifteen hundred pounds; had somehow possessed more knowledge of the busy world, and towns and regions full of life; more practical experience, and intercourse with her kind and acquaint¬ ance with a variety of character. In those words she puts her finger exactly not only upon her own defects as a novelist but upon those of her sex at that time. She knew, no one better, how enormously her genius would have profited if it had not spent itself in solitary visions over distant fields; if experience and intercourse and travel had been granted her. But they were not granted; they were withheld; and we must accept the fact that all those good novels, Villette, Emma, Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch, were written by women without more experience of life than could enter the house of a respectable clergyman; written too in the common sitting-room of that respecta¬ ble house and by women so poor that they could not afford to buy more than a few quires of paper at a time upon which to write Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. One of them, it is true, George Eliot, escaped after much tribulation, but only to a secluded villa in St. John’s Wood. And there she settled down in the shadow of the world’s dis¬ approval. “I wish it to be understood”, she wrote, “that I should never invite anyone to come and see me who did not ask for the invi¬ tation”; for was she not living in sin with a married man and might not the sight of her damage the chastity of Mrs. Smith or whoever it might be that chanced to call? One must submit to the social conven¬ tion, and be “cut off from what is called the world”. At the same time, on the other side of Europe, there was a young man living freely with this gipsy or with that great lady; going to the wars; picking up unhin¬ dered and uncensored all that varied experience of human life which served him so splendidly later when he came to write his books. Elad Tolstoi lived at the Priory in seclusion with a married lady “cut off from what is called the world”, however edifying the moral lesson, he could scarcely, I thought, have written War and Peace.

But one could perhaps go a little deeper into the question of novel¬ writing and the effect of sex upon the novelist. If one shuts one’s eyes and thinks of the novel as a whole, it would seem to be a creation owning a certain looking-glass likeness to life, though of course with simplifications and distortions innumerable. At any rate, it is a struc¬ ture leaving a shape on the mind’s eye, built now in squares, now pagoda shaped, now throwing out wings and arcades, now solidly compact and domed like the Cathedral of Saint Sofia at Constantinople. This shape, I thought, thinking back over certain famous novels, starts in one the kind of emotion that is appropriate to it. But that emotion


52


CHAPTER IV


at once blends itself with others, for the “shape” is not made by the relation of stone to stone, but by the relation of human being to human being. Thus a novel starts in us all sorts of antagonistic and opposed emotions. Life conflicts with something that is not life. Hence the difficulty of coming to any agreement about novels, and the immense sway that our private prejudices have upon us. On the one hand, we feel You - John the hero - must live, or I shall be in the depths of despair. On the other, we feel, Alas, John, you must die, because the shape of the book requires it. Life conflicts with some¬ thing that is not life. Then since life it is in part, we judge it as life. James is the sort of man I most detest, one says. Or, This is a farrago of absurdity. I could never feel anything of the sort myself. The whole structure, it is obvious, thinking back on any famous novel, is one of infinite complexity, because it is thus made up of so many different judgements, of so many different kinds of emotion. The wonder is that any book so composed holds together for more than a year or two, or can possibly mean to the English reader what it means for the Russian or the Chinese. But they do hold together occasionally very remarkably. And what holds them together in these rare instances of survival (I was thinking of War and Peace) is something that one calls integrity, though it has nothing to do with paying one’s bills or behav¬ ing honourably in an emergency. What one means by integrity, in the case of the novelist, is the conviction that he gives one that this is the truth. Yes, one feels, I should never have thought that this could be so; I have never known people behaving like that. But you have con¬ vinced me that so it is, so it happens. One holds every phrase, every scene to the light as one reads - for Nature seems, very oddly, to have provided us with an inner light by which to judge of the novelist’s integrity or disintegrity. Or perhaps it is rather that Nature, in her most irrational mood, has traced in invisible ink on the walls of the mind a premonition which these great artists confirm; a sketch which only needs to be held to the fire of genius to become visible. When one so exposes it and sees it come to life one exclaims in rapture, But this is what I have always felt and known and desired! And one boils over with excitement, and, shutting the book even with a kind of reverence as if it were something very precious, a stand-by to return to as long as one lives, one puts it back on the shelf, I said, taking War and Peace and putting it back in its place. If, on the other hand, these poor sen¬ tences that one takes and tests rouse first a quick and eager response with their bright colouring and their dashing gestures but there they stop: something seems to check them in their development: or if they bring to light only a faint scribble in that corner and a blot over there,


53


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


and nothing appears whole and entire, then one heaves a sigh of dis¬ appointment and says, Another failure. This novel has come to grief somewhere.

And for the most part, of course, novels do come to grief some¬ where. The imagination falters under the enormous strain. The insight is confused; it can no longer distinguish between the true and the false; it has no longer the strength to go on with the vast labour that calls at every moment for the use of so many different faculties. But how would all this be affected by the sex of the novelist, I wondered, looking at Jane Eyre and the others. Would the fact of her sex in any way interfere with the integrity of a woman novelist - that integrity which I take to be the backbone of the writer? Now, in the passages I have quoted from Jane Eyre , it is clear that anger was tampering with the integrity of Charlotte Bronte the novelist. She left her story, to which her entire devotion was due, to attend to some personal griev¬ ance. She remembered that she had been starved of her proper due of experience - she had been made to stagnate in a parsonage mending stockings when she wanted to wander free over the world. Her imagi¬ nation swerved from indignation and we feel it swerve. But there were many more influences than anger tugging at her imagination and deflecting it from its path. Ignorance, for instance. The portrait of Rochester is drawn in the dark. We feel the influence of fear in it; just as we constantly feel an acidity which is the result of oppression, a buried suffering smouldering beneath her passion, a rancour which contracts those books, splendid as they are, with a spasm of pain.

And since a novel has this correspondence to real life, its values are to some extent those of real life. But it is obvious that the values of women differ very often from the values which have been made by the other sex; naturally, this is so. Yet it is the masculine values that pre¬ vail. Speaking crudely, football and sport are “important”; the wor¬ ship of fashion, the buying of clothes “trivial”. And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room. A scene in a battle-field is more important than a scene in a shop - everywhere and much more subtly the difference of value persists. The whole structure, therefore, of the early nineteenth-century novel was raised, if one was a woman, by a mind which was slightly pulled from the straight, and made to alter its clear vision in deference to external authority. One has only to skim those old forgotten novels and listen to the tone of voice in which they are written to divine that the writer was meeting criticism; she was saying this by way of aggression, or


54


CHAPTER IV


that by way of conciliation. She was admitting that she was “only a woman”, or protesting that she was “as good as a man”. She met that criticism as her temperament dictated, with docility and diffidence, or with anger and emphasis. It does not matter which it was; she was thinking of something other than the thing itself. Down comes her book upon our heads. There was a flaw in the centre of it. And I thought of all the women’s novels that lie scattered, like small pock¬ marked apples in an orchard, about the second-hand book shops of London. It was the flaw in the centre that had rotted them. She had altered her values in deference to the opinion of others.

But how impossible it must have been for them not to budge either to the right or to the left. What genius, what integrity it must have required in face of all that criticism, in the midst of that purely patri¬ archal society, to hold fast to the thing as they saw it without shrink¬ ing. Only Jane Austen did it and Emily Bronte. It is another feather, perhaps the finest, in their caps. They wrote as women write, not as men write. Of all the thousand women who wrote novels then, they alone entirely ignored the perpetual admonitions of the eternal pedagogue - write this, think that. They alone were deaf to that persis¬ tent voice, now grumbling, now patronising, now domineering, now grieved, now shocked, now angry, now avuncular, that voice which cannot let women alone, but must be at them, like some too conscien¬ tious governess, adjuring them, like Sir Egerton Brydges, to be refined; dragging even into the criticism of poetry criticism of sex; 2 admonish¬ ing them, if they would be good and win, as I suppose, some shiny prize, to keep within certain limits which the gentleman in question thinks suitable - “... female novelists should only aspire to excellence by courageously acknowledging the limitations of their sex”. 3 That puts the matter in a nutshell, and when I tell you, rather to your sur¬ prise, that this sentence was written not in August 1828 but in August 1928, you will agree, I think, that however delightful it is to us now, it represents a vast body of opinion - I am not going to stir those old pools; I take only what chance has floated to my feet - that was far more vigorous and far more vocal a century ago. It would have needed


2 “[She] has a metaphysical purpose, and that is a dangerous obsession, especially with a woman, for women rarely possess men’s healthy love of rhetoric. It is a strange lack in the sex which is in other things more primitive and more materialistic.” - New Criterion, June 1928.

3 “If, like the reporter, you believe that female novelists should only aspire to excel¬

lence by courageously acknowledging the limitations of their sex (Jane Austen [has] demonstrated how gracefully this gesture can be accomplished Life and Letters,

August 1928.


55


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


a very stalwart young woman in 1828 to disregard all those snubs and chidings and promises of prizes. One must have been something of a firebrand to say to oneself, Oh, but they can’t buy literature too. Literature is open to everybody. I refuse to allow you, Beadle though you are, to turn me off the grass. Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the free¬ dom of my mind.

But whatever effect discouragement and criticism had upon their writing - and I believe that they had a very great effect - that was unimportant compared with the other difficulty which faced them (I was still considering those early nineteenth-century novelists) when they came to set their thoughts on paper - that is that they had no tradition behind them, or one so short and partial that it was of little help. For we think back through our mothers if we are women. It is useless to go to the great men writers for help, however much one may go to them for pleasure. Lamb, Browne, Thackeray, Newman, Sterne, Dickens, De Quincey - whoever it may be - never helped a woman yet, though she may have learnt a few tricks of them and adapted them to her use. The weight, the pace, the stride of a man’s mind are too unlike her own for her to lift anything substantial from him suc¬ cessfully. The ape is too distant to be sedulous. Perhaps the first thing she would find, setting pen to paper, was that there was no common sentence ready for her use. All the great novelists like Thackeray and Dickens and Balzac have written a natural prose, swift but not slov¬ enly, expressive but not precious, taking their own tint without ceas¬ ing to be common property. They have based it on the sentence that was current at the time. The sentence that was current at the begin¬ ning of the nineteenth century ran something like this perhaps: “The grandeur of their works was an argument with them, not to stop short, but to proceed. They could have no higher excitement or satisfaction than in the exercise of their art and endless generations of truth and beauty. Success prompts to exertion; and habit facilitates success.” That is a man’s sentence; behind it one can see Johnson, Gibbon and the rest. It was a sentence that was unsuited for a woman’s use. Charlotte Bronte, with all her splendid gift for prose, stumbled and fell with that clumsy weapon in her hands. George Eliot committed atrocities with it that beggar description. Jane Austen looked at it and laughed at it and devised a perfectly natural, shapely sentence proper for her own use and never departed from it. Thus, with less genius for writing than Charlotte Bronte, she got infinitely more said. Indeed, since freedom and fullness of expression are of the essence of the art, such a lack of tradition, such a scarcity and inadequacy of tools, must


56


CHAPTER IV


have told enormously upon the writing of women. Moreover, a book is not made of sentences laid end to end, but of sentences built, if an image helps, into arcades or domes. And this shape too has been made by men out of their own needs for their own uses. There is no reason to think that the form of the epic or of the poetic play suit a woman any more than the sentence suits her. But all the older forms of litera¬ ture were hardened and set by the time she became a writer. The novel alone was young enough to be soft in her hands - another reason, perhaps, why she wrote novels. Yet who shall say that even now “the novel” (I give it inverted commas to mark my sense of the words’ inadequacy), who shall say that even this most pliable of all forms is rightly shaped for her use? No doubt we shall find her knocking that into shape for herself when she has the free use of her limbs; and pro¬ viding some new vehicle, not necessarily in verse, for the poetry in her. For it is the poetry that is still denied outlet. And I went on to ponder how a woman nowadays would write a poetic tragedy in five acts. Would she use verse? - would she not use prose rather?

But these are difficult questions which lie in the twilight of the future. I must leave them, if only because they stimulate me to wander from my subject into trackless forests where I shall be lost and, very likely, devoured by wild beasts. I do not want, and I am sure that you do not want me, to broach that very dismal subject, the future of fic¬ tion, so that I will only pause here one moment to draw your atten¬ tion to the great part which must be played in that future so far as women are concerned by physical conditions. The book has somehow to be adapted to the body, and at a venture one would say that wom¬ en’s books should be shorter, more concentrated, than those of men, and framed so that they do not need long hours of steady and uninter¬ rupted work. For interruptions there will always be. Again, the nerves that feed the brain would seem to differ in men and women, and if you are going to make them work their best and hardest, you must find out what treatment suits them - whether these hours of lectures, for instance, which the monks devised, presumably, hundreds of years ago, suit them - what alternations of work and rest they need, inter¬ preting rest not as doing nothing but as doing something but some¬ thing that is different; and what should that difference be? All this should be discussed and discovered; all this is part of the question of women and fiction. And yet, I continued, approaching the bookcase again, where shall I find that elaborate study of the psychology of women by a woman? If through their incapacity to play football women are not going to be allowed to practise medicine-

Happily my thoughts were now given another turn.


57


CHAPTER V


I had come at last, in the course of this rambling, to the shelves which hold books by the living; by women and by men; for there are almost as many books written by women now as by men. Or if that is not yet quite true, if the male is still the voluble sex, it is certainly true that women no longer write novels solely. There are Jane Harrison’s books on Greek archaeology; Vernon Lee’s books on aesthetics; Gertrude Bell’s books on Persia. There are books on all sorts of subjects which a generation ago no woman could have touched. There are poems and plays and criticism; there are histories and biographies, books of travel and books of scholarship and research; there are even a few philosophies and books about science and economics. And though novels predominate, novels themselves may very well have changed from association with books of a different feather. The natural sim¬ plicity, the epic age of women’s writing, may have gone. Reading and criticism may have given her a wider range, a greater subtlety. The impulse towards autobiography may be spent. She may be beginning to use writing as an art, not as a method of self-expression. Among these new novels one might find an answer to several such questions.

I took down one of them at random. It stood at the very end of the shelf, was called Life’s Adventure, or some such title, by Mary Carmichael, and was published in this very month of October. It seems to be her first book, I said to myself, but one must read it as if it were the last volume in a fairly long series, continuing all those other books that I have been glancing at - Lady Winchilsea’s poems and Aphra Behn’s plays and the novels of the four great novelists.


A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf. Edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke. Published 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


58


CHAPTER V


For books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately. And I must also consider her - this unknown woman - as the descendant of all those other women whose circumstances I have been glancing at and see what she inherits of their characteris¬ tics and restrictions. So, with a sigh, because novels so often provide an anodyne and not an antidote, glide one into torpid slumbers instead of rousing one with a burning brand, I settled down with a notebook and a pencil to make what I could of Mary Carmichael’s first novel, Life’s Adventure.

To begin with, I ran my eye up and down the page. I am going to get the hang of her sentences first, I said, before I load my memory with blue eyes and brown and the relationship that there may be between Chloe and Roger. There will be time for that when I have decided whether she has a pen in her hand or a pickaxe. So I tried a sentence or two on my tongue. Soon it was obvious that something was not quite in order. The smooth gliding of sentence after sentence was interrupted. Something tore, something scratched; a single word here and there flashed its torch in my eyes. She was “unhanding” her¬ self as they say in the old plays. She is like a person striking a match that will not light, I thought. But why, I asked her as if she were present, are Jane Austen’s sentences not of the right shape for you? Must they all be scrapped because Emma and Mr. Woodhouse are dead? Alas, I sighed, that it should be so. For while Jane Austen breaks from melody to melody as Mozart from song to song, to read this writing was like being out at sea in an open boat. Up one went, down one sank. This terseness, this short-windedness, might mean that she was afraid of something; afraid of being called “sentimental” perhaps; or she remembers that women’s writing has been called flowery and so provides a superfluity of thorns; but until I have read a scene with some care, I cannot be sure whether she is being herself or someone else. At any rate, she does not lower one’s vitality, I thought, reading more carefully. But she is heaping up too many facts. She will not be able to use half of them in a book of this size. (It was about half the length of Jane Eyre.) However, by some means or other she succeeded in getting us all - Roger, Chloe, Olivia, Tony and Mr. Bigham - in a canoe up the river. Wait a moment, I said, leaning back in my chair, I must consider the whole thing more carefully before I go any further.

I am almost sure, I said to myself, that Mary Carmichael is playing a trick on us. For I feel as one feels on a switchback railway when the car, instead of sinking, as one has been led to expect, swerves up again. Mary is tampering with the expected sequence. First she broke the sentence; now she has broken the sequence. Very well, she has every


59


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


right to do both these things if she does them not for the sake of breaking, but for the sake of creating. Which of the two it is I cannot be sure until she has faced herself with a situation. I will give her every liberty, I said, to choose what that situation shall be; she shall make it of tin cans and old kettles if she likes; but she must convince me that she believes it to be a situation; and then when she has made it she must face it. She must jump. And, determined to do my duty by her as reader if she would do her duty by me as writer, I turned the page and read ... I am sorry to break off so abruptly. Are there no men present? Do you promise me that behind that red curtain over there the figure of Sir Chartres Biron is not concealed? We are all women you assure me? Then I may tell you that the very next words I read were these - “Chloe liked Olivia . . .” Do not start. Do not blush. Let us admit in the privacy of our own society that these things sometimes happen. Sometimes women do like women.

“Chloe liked Olivia,” I read. And then it struck me how immense a change was there. Chloe liked Olivia perhaps for the first time in lit¬ erature. Cleopatra did not like Octavia. And how completely Antony and Cleopatra would have been altered had she done so! As it is, I thought, letting my mind, I am afraid, wander a little from Life’s Adventure, the whole thing is simplified, conventionalised, if one dared say it, absurdly. Cleopatra’s only feeling about Octavia is one of jealousy. Is she taller than I am? How does she do her hair? The play, perhaps, required no more. But how interesting it would have been if the relationship between the two women had been more complicated. All these relationships between women, I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery of fictitious women, are too simple. So much has been left out, unattempted. And I tried to remember any case in the course of my reading where two women are represented as friends. There is an attempt at it in Diana of the Crossways. They are confi¬ dantes, of course, in Racine and the Greek tragedies. They are now and then mothers and daughters. But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that; and how little can a man know even of that when he observes it through the black or rosy spectacles which sex puts upon his nose. Hence, perhaps, the peculiar nature of women in fiction; the astonishing extremes of her beauty and horror; her alternations between heavenly goodness and hellish depravity - for so a lover would see her as his love rose or sank, was prosperous or unhappy. This is not so true of the nineteenth-century novelists, of


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CHAPTER V


course. Woman becomes much more various and complicated there. Indeed it was the desire to write about women perhaps that led men by degrees to abandon the poetic drama which, with its violence, could make so little use of them, and to devise the novel as a more fitting receptacle. Even so it remains obvious, even in the writing of Proust, that a man is terribly hampered and partial in his knowledge of women, as a woman in her knowledge of men.

Also, I continued, looking down at the page again, it is becoming evident that women, like men, have other interests besides the peren¬ nial interests of domesticity. “Chloe liked Olivia. They shared a labor¬ atory together. ...” I read on and discovered that these two young women were engaged in mincing liver, which is, it seems, a cure for pernicious anatmia; although one of them was married and had - I think I am right in stating - two small children. Now all that, of course, has had to be left out, and thus the splendid portrait of the fictitious woman is much too simple and much too monotonous. Suppose, for instance, that men were only represented in literature as the lovers of women, and were never the friends of men, soldiers, thinkers, dreamers; how few parts in the plays of Shakespeare could be allotted to them; how literature would suffer! We might perhaps have most of Othello; and a good deal of Antony; but no Caesar, no Brutus, no Hamlet, no Lear, no Jaques - literature would be incred¬ ibly impoverished, as indeed literature is impoverished beyond our counting by the doors that have been shut upon women. Married against their will, kept in one room, and to one occupation, how could a dramatist give a full or interesting or truthful account of them? Love was the only possible interpreter. The poet was forced to be passion¬ ate or bitter, unless indeed he chose to “hate women”, which meant more often than not that he was unattractive to them.

Now if Chloe likes Olivia and they share a laboratory, which of itself will make their friendship more varied and lasting because it will be less personal; if Mary Carmichael knows how to write, and I was beginning to enjoy some quality in her style; if she has a room to her¬ self, of which I am not quite sure; if she has five hundred a year of her own - but that remains to be proved - then I think that something of great importance has happened.

Lor if Chloe likes Olivia and Mary Carmichael knows how to express it she will light a torch in that vast chamber where nobody has yet been. It is all half lights and profound shadows like those ser¬ pentine caves where one goes with a candle peering up and down, not knowing where one is stepping. And I began to read the book again, and read how Chloe watched Olivia put a jar on a shelf and say how


61


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


it was time to go home to her children. That is a sight that has never been seen since the world began, I exclaimed. And I watched too, very curiously. For I wanted to see how Mary Carmichael set to work to catch those unrecorded gestures, those unsaid or half-said words, which form themselves, no more palpably than the shadows of moths on the ceiling, when women are alone, unlit by the capricious and coloured light of the other sex. She will need to hold her breath, I said, reading on, if she is to do it; for women are so suspicious of any interest that has not some obvious motive behind it, so terribly accus¬ tomed to concealment and suppression, that they are off at the flicker of an eye turned observingly in their direction. The only way for you to do it, I thought, addressing Mary Carmichael as if she were there, would be to talk of something else, looking steadily out of the window, and thus note, not with a pencil in a notebook, but in the shortest of shorthand, in words that are hardly syllabled yet, what happens when Olivia - this organism that has been under the shadow of the rock these million years - feels the light fall on it, and sees coming her way a piece of strange food - knowledge, adventure, art. And she reaches out for it, I thought, again raising my eyes from the page, and has to devise some entirely new combination of her resources, so highly developed for other purposes, so as to absorb the new into the old without disturbing the infinitely intricate and elaborate balance of the whole.

But, alas, I had done what I had determined not to do; I had slipped unthinkingly into praise of my own sex. “Highly developed” - “infinitely intricate” - such are undeniably terms of praise, and to praise one’s own sex is always suspect, often silly; moreover, in this case, how could one justify it? One could not go to the map and say Columbus discovered America and Columbus was a woman; or take an apple and remark, Newton discovered the laws of gravitation and Newton was a woman; or look into the sky and say aeroplanes are flying overhead and aeroplanes were invented by women. There is no mark on the wall to measure the precise height of women. There are no yard measures, neatly divided into the fractions of an inch, that one can lay against the qualities of a good mother or the devotion of a daughter, or the fidelity of a sister, or the capacity of a housekeeper. Few women even now have been graded at the universities; the great trials of the professions, army and navy, trade, politics and diplo¬ macy have hardly tested them. They remain even at this moment almost unclassified. But if I want to know all that a human being can tell me about Sir Hawley Butts, for instance, I have only to open Burke or Debrett and I shall find that he took such and such a degree;


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CHAPTER V


owns a hall; has an heir; was Secretary to a Board; represented Great Britain in Canada; and has received a certain number of degrees, offices, medals and other distinctions by which his merits are stamped upon him indelibly. Only Providence can know more about Sir Hawley Butts than that.

When, therefore, I say “highly developed”, “infinitely intricate” of women, I am unable to verify my words either in Whitaker, Debrett or the University Calendar. In this predicament what can I do? And I looked at the bookcase again. There were the biographies: Johnson and Goethe and Carlyle and Sterne and Cowper and Shelley and Voltaire and Browning and many others. And I began thinking of all those great men who have for one reason or another admired, sought out, lived with, confided in, made love to, written of, trusted in, and shown what can only be described as some need of and dependence upon certain persons of the opposite sex. That all these relationships were absolutely Platonic I would not affirm, and Sir William Joynson Hicks would probably deny. But we should wrong these illustrious men very greatly if we insisted that they got nothing from these alli¬ ances but comfort, flattery and the pleasures of the body. What they got, it is obvious, was something that their own sex was unable to supply; and it would not be rash, perhaps, to define it further, without quoting the doubtless rhapsodical words of the poets, as some stimu¬ lus, some renewal of creative power which is in the gift only of the opposite sex to bestow. He would open the door of drawing-room or nursery, I thought, and find her among her children perhaps, or with a piece of embroidery on her knee - at any rate, the centre of some different order and system of life, and the contrast between this world and his own, which might be the law courts or the House of Commons, would at once refresh and invigorate; and there would follow, even in the simplest talk, such a natural difference of opinion that the dried ideas in him would be fertilised anew; and the sight of her creating in a different medium from his own would so quicken his creative power that insensibly his sterile mind would begin to plot again, and he would find the phrase or the scene which was lacking when he put on his hat to visit her. Every Johnson has his Thrale, and holds fast to her for some such reasons as these, and when the Thrale marries her Italian music master Johnson goes half mad with rage and disgust, not merely that he will miss his pleasant evenings at Streatham, but that the light of his life will be “as if gone out”.

And without being Dr. Johnson or Goethe or Carlyle or Voltaire, one may feel, though very differently from these great men, the nature of this intricacy and the power of this highly developed creative faculty


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A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


among women. One goes into the room - but the resources of the English language would be much put to the stretch, and whole flights of words would need to wing their way illegitimately into existence before a woman could say what happens when she goes into a room. The rooms differ so completely; they are calm or thunderous; open on to the sea, or, on the contrary, give on to a prison yard; are hung with washing; or alive with opals and silks; are hard as horsehair or soft as feathers - one has only to go into any room in any street for the whole of that extremely complex force of femininity to fly in one’s face. How should it be otherwise? For women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by then- creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics. But this creative power differs greatly from the creative power of men. And one must conclude that it would be a thousand pities if it were hindered or wasted, for it was won by centuries of the most drastic discipline, and there is nothing to take its place. It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only? Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities? For we have too much like¬ ness as it is, and if an explorer should come back and bring word of other sexes looking through the branches of other trees at other skies, nothing would be of greater service to humanity; and we should have the immense pleasure into the bargain of watching Professor X rush for his measuring-rods to prove himself “superior”.

Mary Carmichael, I thought, still hovering at a little distance above the page, will have her work cut out for her merely as an observer. I am afraid indeed that she will be tempted to become, what I think the less interesting branch of the species - the naturalist-novelist, and not the contemplative. There are so many new facts for her to observe. She will not need to limit herself any longer to the respectable houses of the upper middle classes. She will go without kindness or conde¬ scension, but in the spirit of fellowship, into those small, scented rooms where sit the courtesan, the harlot and the lady with the pug dog. There they still sit in the rough and ready-made clothes that the male writer has had perforce to clap upon their shoulders. But Mary Carmichael will have out her scissors and fit them close to every hol¬ low and angle. It will be a curious sight, when it comes, to see these women as they are, but we must wait a little, for Mary Carmichael will still be encumbered with that self-consciousness in the presence


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CHAPTER V


of “sin” which is the legacy of our sexual barbarity. She will still wear the shoddy old fetters of class on her feet.

However, the majority of women are neither harlots nor courtesans; nor do they sit clasping pug dogs to dusty velvet all through the sum¬ mer afternoon. But what do they do then? and there came to my mind’s eye one of those long streets somewhere south of the river whose infi¬ nite rows are innumerably populated. With the eye of the imagination I saw a very ancient lady crossing the street on the arm of a middle- aged woman, her daughter, perhaps, both so respectably booted and furred that their dressing in the afternoon must be a ritual, and the clothes themselves put away in cupboards with camphor, year after year, throughout the summer months. They cross the road when the lamps are being lit (for the dusk is their favourite hour), as they must have done year after year. The elder is close on eighty; but if one asked her what her life has meant to her, she would say that she remembered the streets lit for the battle of Balaclava, or had heard the guns fire in Hyde Park for the birth of King Edward the Seventh. And if one asked her, longing to pin down the moment with date and season, but what were you doing on the fifth of April 1868, or the second of November 1875, she would look vague and say that she could remember nothing. For all the dinners are cooked; the plates and cups washed; the chil¬ dren sent to school and gone out into the world. Nothing remains of it all. All has vanished. No biography or history has a word to say about it. And the novels, without meaning to, inevitably lie.

All these infinitely obscure lives remain to be recorded, I said, addressing Mary Carmichael as if she were present; and went on in thought through the streets of London feeling in imagination the pres¬ sure of dumbness, the accumulation of unrecorded life, whether from the women at the street corners with their arms akimbo, and the rings embedded in their fat swollen fingers, talking with a gesticulation like the swing of Shakespeare’s words; or from the violet-sellers and match-sellers and old crones stationed under doorways; or from drift¬ ing girls whose faces, like waves in sun and cloud, signal the coming of men and women and the flickering lights of shop windows. All that you will have to explore, I said to Mary Carmichael, holding your torch firm in your hand. Above all, you must illumine your own soul with its profundities and its shallows, and its vanities and its generosi¬ ties, and say what your beauty means to you or your plainness, and what is your relation to the everchanging and turning world of gloves and shoes and stuffs swaying up and down among the faint scents that come through chemists’ bottles down arcades of dress material over a floor of pseudo-marble. For in imagination I had gone into a


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shop; it was laid with black and white paving; it was hung, astonish¬ ingly beautifully, with coloured ribbons. Mary Carmichael might well have a look at that in passing, I thought, for it is a sight that would lend itself to the pen as fittingly as any snowy peak or rocky gorge in the Andes. And there is the girl behind the counter too - I would as soon have her true history as the hundred and fiftieth life of Napoleon or seventieth study of Keats and his use of Miltonic inversion which old Professor Z and his like are now inditing. And then I went on very warily, on the very tips of my toes (so cowardly am I, so afraid of the lash that was once almost laid on my own shoulders), to murmur that she should also learn to laugh, without bitterness, at the vanities - say rather at the peculiarities, for it is a less offensive word - of the other sex. For there is a spot the size of a shilling at the back of the head which one can never see for oneself. It is one of the good offices that sex can discharge for sex - to describe that spot the size of a shilling at the back of the head. Think how much women have profited by the comments of Juvenal; by the criticism of Strindberg. Think with what humanity and brilliancy men, from the earliest ages, have pointed out to women that dark place at the back of the head! And if Mary were very brave and very honest, she would go behind the other sex and tell us what she found there. A true picture of man as a whole can never be painted until a woman has described that spot the size of a shilling. Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Casaubon are spots of that size and nature. Not of course that anyone in their senses would counsel her to hold up to scorn and ridicule of set purpose - literature shows the futility of what is written in that spirit. Be truthful, one would say, and the result is bound to be amazingly interesting. Comedy is bound to be enriched. New facts are bound to be discovered.

However, it was high time to lower my eyes to the page again. It would be better, instead of speculating what Mary Carmichael might write and should write, to see what in fact Mary Carmichael did write. So I began to read again. I remembered that I had certain griev¬ ances against her. She had broken up Jane Austen’s sentence, and thus given me no chance of pluming myself upon my impeccable taste, my fastidious ear. For it was useless to say, “Yes, yes, this is very nice; but Jane Austen wrote much better than you do”, when I had to admit that there was no point of likeness between them. Then she had gone further and broken the sequence - the expected order. Perhaps she had done this unconsciously, merely giving things their natural order, as a woman would, if she wrote like a woman. But the effect was somehow baffling; one could not see a wave heaping itself, a crisis coming round the next corner. Therefore I could not plume myself


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CHAPTER V


either upon the depths of my feelings and my profound knowledge of the human heart. For whenever I was about to feel the usual things in the usual places, about love, about death, the annoying creature twitched me away, as if the important point were just a little further on. And thus she made it impossible for me to roll out my sonorous phrases about “elemental feelings”, the “common stuff of humanity”, “the depths of the human heart”, and all those other phrases which support us in our belief that, however clever we may be on top, we are very serious, very profound and very humane underneath. She made me feel, on the contrary, that instead of being serious and profound and humane, one might be - and the thought was far less seductive - merely lazy minded and conventional into the bargain.

But I read on, and noted certain other facts. She was no “genius” - that was evident. She had nothing like the love of Nature, the fiery imagination, the wild poetry, the brilliant wit, the brooding wisdom of her great predecessors, Lady Winchilsea, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen and George Eliot; she could not write with the melody and the dignity of Dorothy Osborne - indeed she was no more than a clever girl whose books will no doubt be pulped by the pub¬ lishers in ten years’ time. But, nevertheless, she had certain advantages which women of far greater gift lacked even half a century ago. Men were no longer to her “the opposing faction”; she need not waste her time railing against them; she need not climb on to the roof and ruin her peace of mind longing for travel, experience and a knowledge of the world and character that were denied her. Fear and hatred were almost gone, or traces of them showed only in a slight exaggeration of the joy of freedom, a tendency to the caustic and satirical, rather than to the romantic, in her treatment of the other sex. Then there could be no doubt that as a novelist she enjoyed some natural advantages of a high order. She had a sensibility that was very wide, eager and free. It responded to an almost imperceptible touch on it. It feasted like a plant newly stood in the air on every sight and sound that came its way. It ranged, too, very subtly and curiously, among almost unknown or unrecorded things; it lighted on small things and showed that perhaps they were not small after all. It brought buried things to light and made one wonder what need there had been to bury them. Awkward though she was and without the unconscious bearing of long descent which makes the least turn of the pen of a Thackeray or a Lamb delightful to the ear, she had -1 began to think - mastered the first great lesson; she wrote as a woman, but as a woman who has forgotten that she is a woman, so that her pages were full of that curious sexual quality which comes only when sex is unconscious of itself.


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All this was to the good. But no abundance of sensation or fineness of perception would avail unless she could build up out of the fleeting and the personal the lasting edifice which remains unthrown. I had said that I would wait until she faced herself with “a situation”. And I meant by that until she proved by summoning, beckoning and getting together that she was not a skimmer of surfaces merely, but had looked beneath into the depths. Now is the time, she would say to herself at a certain moment, when without doing anything violent I can show the meaning of all this. And she would begin - how unmistakable that quickening is! - beckoning and summoning, and there would rise up in memory, half forgotten, perhaps quite trivial things in other chapters dropped by the way. And she would make their presence felt while someone sewed or smoked a pipe as naturally as possible, and one would feel, as she went on writing, as if one had gone to the top of the world and seen it laid out, very majestically, beneath.

At any rate, she was making the attempt. And as I watched her lengthening out for the test, I saw, but hoped that she did not see, the bishops and the deans, the doctors and the professors, the patriarchs and the pedagogues all at her shouting warning and advice. You can’t do this and you shan’t do that! Fellows and scholars only allowed on the grass! Ladies not admitted without a letter of introduction! Aspiring and graceful female novelists this way! So they kept at her like the crowd at a fence on the race-course, and it was her trial to take her fence without looking to right or to left. If you stop to curse you are lost, I said to her; equally, if you stop to laugh. Hesitate or fumble and you are done for. Think only of the jump, I implored her, as if I had put the whole of my money on her back; and she went over it like a bird. But there was a fence beyond that and a fence beyond that. Whether she had the staying power I was doubtful, for the clapping and the crying were fraying to the nerves. But she did her best. Considering that Mary Carmichael was no genius, but an unknown girl writing her first novel in a bed-sitting-room, without enough of those desirable things, time, money and idleness, she did not do so badly, I thought.

Give her another hundred years, I concluded, reading the last chapter - people’s noses and bare shoulders showed naked against a starry sky, for someone had twitched the curtain in the drawing-room - give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days. She will be a poet, I said, putting Life’s Adventure, by Mary Carmichael, at the end of the shelf, in another hundred years’ time.


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CHAPTER VI


Next day the light of the October morning was falling in dusty shafts through the uncurtained windows, and the hum of traffic rose from the street. London then was winding itself up again; the factory was astir; the machines were beginning. It was tempting, after all this reading, to look out of the window and see what London was doing on the morning of the 26th of October 1928. And what was London doing? Nobody, it seemed, was reading Antony and Cleopatra. London was wholly indifferent, it appeared, to Shakespeare’s plays. Nobody cared a straw - and I do not blame them - for the future of fiction, the death of poetry or the develop¬ ment by the average woman of a prose style completely expressive of her mind. If opinions upon any of these matters had been chalked on the pavement, nobody would have stooped to read them. The nonchalance of the hurrying feet would have rubbed them out in half an hour. Here came an errand-boy; here a woman with a dog on a lead. The fascination of the London street is that no two people are ever alike; each seems bound on some private affair of his own. There were the business-like, with their little bags; there were the drifters rattling sticks upon area railings; there were affable charac¬ ters to whom the streets serve for clubroom, hailing men in carts and giving information without being asked for it. Also there were funerals to which men, thus suddenly reminded of the passing of their own bodies, lifted their hats. And then a very distinguished gentleman came slowly down a doorstep and paused to avoid col¬ lision with a bustling lady who had, by some means or other,


A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf. Edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke. Published 2015 John Wiley Sc Sons, Ltd.


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A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


acquired a splendid fur coat and a bunch of Parma violets. They all seemed separate, self-absorbed, on business of their own.

At this moment, as so often happens in London, there was a complete lull and suspension of traffic. Nothing came down the street; nobody passed. A single leaf detached itself from the plane tree at the end of the street, and in that pause and suspension fell. Somehow it was like a signal falling, a signal pointing to a force in things which one had overlooked. It seemed to point to a river, which flowed past, invisibly, round the corner, down the street, and took people and eddied them along, as the stream at Oxbridge had taken the under¬ graduate in his boat and the dead leaves. Now it was bringing from one side of the street to the other diagonally a girl in patent leather boots, and then a young man in a maroon overcoat; it was also bring¬ ing a taxi-cab; and it brought all three together at a point directly beneath my window; where the taxi stopped; and the girl and the young man stopped; and they got into the taxi; and then the cab glided off as if it were swept on by the current elsewhere.

The sight was ordinary enough; what was strange was the rhythmical order with which my imagination had invested it; and the fact that the ordinary sight of two people getting into a cab had the power to com¬ municate something of their own seeming satisfaction. The sight of two people coming down the street and meeting at the corner seems to ease the mind of some strain, I thought, watching the taxi turn and make off. Perhaps to think, as I had been thinking these two days, of one sex as distinct from the other is an effort. It interferes with the unity of the mind. Now that effort had ceased and that unity had been restored by seeing two people come together and get into a taxi-cab. The mind is certainly a very mysterious organ, I reflected, drawing my head in from the window, about which nothing whatever is known, though we depend upon it so completely. Why do I feel that there are severances and oppositions in the mind, as there are strains from obvious causes on the body? What does one mean by “the unity of the mind”? I pondered, for clearly the mind has so great a power of con¬ centrating at any point at any moment that it seems to have no single state of being. It can separate itself from the people in the street, for example, and think of itself as apart from them, at an upper window looking down on them. Or it can think with other people spontane¬ ously, as, for instance, in a crowd waiting to hear some piece of news read out. It can think back through its fathers or through its mothers, as I have said that a woman writing thinks back through her mothers. Again if one is a woman one is often surprised by a sudden splitting off of consciousness, say in walking down Whitehall, when


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CHAPTER VI


from being the natural inheritor of that civilisation, she becomes, on the contrary, outside of it, alien and critical. Clearly the mind is always altering its focus, and bringing the world into different perspectives. But some of these states of mind seem, even if adopted spontaneously, to be less comfortable than others. In order to keep oneself continuing in them one is unconsciously holding something back, and gradually the repression becomes an effort. But there may be some state of mind in which one could continue without effort because nothing is required to be held back. And this perhaps, I thought, coming in from the win¬ dow, is one of them. For certainly when I saw the couple get into the taxi-cab the mind felt as if, after being divided, it had come together again in a natural fusion. The obvious reason would be that it is natural for the sexes to co-operate. One has a profound, if irrational, instinct in favour of the theory that the union of man and woman makes for the greatest satisfaction, the most complete happiness. But the sight of the two people getting into the taxi and the satisfaction it gave me made me also ask whether there are two sexes in the mind corresponding to the two sexes in the body, and whether they also require to be united in order to get complete satisfaction and happiness? And I went on amateurishly to sketch a plan of the soul so that in each of us two powers preside, one male, one female; and in the man’s brain the man predominates over the woman, and in the woman’s brain the woman predominates over the man. The normal and comfortable state of being is that when the two live in harmony together, spiritually co-operating. If one is a man, still the woman part of the brain must have effect; and a woman also must have inter¬ course with the man in her. Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous. It is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilised and uses all its faculties. Perhaps a mind that is purely masculine cannot create, any more than a mind that is purely feminine, I thought. But it would be well to test what one meant by man-womanly, and conversely by woman-manly, by pausing and looking at a book or two.

Coleridge certainly did not mean, when he said that a great mind is androgynous, that it is a mind that has any special sympathy with women; a mind that takes up their cause or devotes itself to their interpretation. Perhaps the androgynous mind is less apt to make these distinctions than the single-sexed mind. He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided. In fact one goes back to Shakespeare’s mind as the type of the androgynous, of the man-womanly mind, though it would


71


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


be impossible to say what Shakespeare thought of women. And if it be true that it is one of the tokens of the fully developed mind that it does not think specially or separately of sex, how much harder it is to attain that condition now than ever before. Here I came to the books by living writers, and there paused and wondered if this fact were not at the root of something that had long puzzled me. No age can ever have been as stridently sex-conscious as our own; those innumerable books by men about women in the British Museum are a proof of it. The Suffrage campaign was no doubt to blame. It must have roused in men an extraordinary desire for self-assertion; it must have made them lay an emphasis upon their own sex and its characteristics which they would not have troubled to think about had they not been challenged. And when one is challenged, even by a few women in black bonnets, one retaliates, if one has never been challenged before, rather excessively. That perhaps accounts for some of the characteris¬ tics that I remember to have found here, I thought, taking down a new novel by Mr. A, who is in the prime of life and very well thought of, apparently, by the reviewers. I opened it. Indeed, it was delightful to read a man’s writing again. It was so direct, so straightforward after the writing of women. It indicated such freedom of mind, such liberty of person, such confidence in himself. One had a sense of physical well-being in the presence of this well-nourished, well-educated, free mind, which had never been thwarted or opposed, but had had full liberty from birth to stretch itself in whatever way it liked. All this was admirable. But after reading a chapter or two a shadow seemed to lie across the page. It was a straight dark bar, a shadow shaped some¬ thing like the letter “I”. One began dodging this way and that to catch a glimpse of the landscape behind it. Whether that was indeed a tree or a woman walking I was not quite sure. Back one was always hailed to the letter “I”. One began to be tired of “I”. Not but what this “I” was a most respectable “I”; honest and logical; as hard as a nut, and polished for centuries by good teaching and good feeding. I respect and admire that “I” from the bottom of my heart. But - here I turned a page or two, looking for something or other - the worst of it is that in the shadow of the letter “I” all is shapeless as mist. Is that a tree? No, it is a woman. But. . . she has not a bone in her body, I thought, watching Phoebe, for that was her name, coming across the beach. Then Alan got up and the shadow of Alan at once obliterated Phoebe. For Alan had views and Phoebe was quenched in the flood of his views. And then Alan, I thought, has passions; and here I turned page after page very fast, feeling that the crisis was approaching, and so it was. It took place on the beach under the sun. It was done very openly.


72


CHAPTER VI


It was done very vigorously. Nothing could have been more inde¬ cent. But ... I had said “but” too often. One cannot go on saying “but”. One must finish the sentence somehow, I rebuked myself. Shall I finish it, “But - I am bored!” But why was I bored? Partly because of the dominance of the letter “I” and the aridity, which, like the giant beech tree, it casts within its shade. Nothing will grow there. And partly for some more obscure reason. There seemed to be some obstacle, some impediment in Mr. A’s mind which blocked the fountain of creative energy and shored it within narrow limits. And remembering the lunch party at Oxbridge, and the cigarette ash and the Manx cat and Tennyson and Christina Rossetti all in a bunch, it seemed possible that the impediment lay there. As he no longer hums under his breath, “There has fallen a splendid tear from the passion¬ flower at the gate”, when Phoebe crosses the beach, and she no longer replies, “My heart is like a singing bird whose nest is in a water’d shoot”, when Alan approaches what can he do? Being honest as the day and logical as the sun, there is only one thing he can do. And that he does, to do him justice, over and over (I said turning the pages) and over again. And that, I added, aware of the awful nature of the confession, seems somehow dull. Shakespeare’s indecency uproots a thousand other things in one’s mind, and is far from being dull. But Shakespeare does it for pleasure; Mr. A, as the nurses say, does it on purpose. He does it in protest. He is protesting against the equality of the other sex by asserting his own superiority. He is therefore impeded and inhibited and self-conscious as Shakespeare might have been if he too had known Miss Clough and Miss Davies. Doubtless Elizabethan literature would have been very different from what it is if the woman’s movement had begun in the sixteenth century and not in the nineteenth.

What, then, it amounts to, if this theory of the two sides of the mind holds good, is that virility has now become self-conscious - men, that is to say, are now writing only with the male side of their brains. It is a mistake for a woman to read them, for she will inevit¬ ably look for something that she will not find. It is the power of sug¬ gestion that one most misses, I thought, taking Mr. B the critic in my hand and reading, very carefully and very dutifully, his remarks upon the art of poetry. Very able they were, acute and full of learning; but the trouble was that his feelings no longer communicated; his mind seemed separated into different chambers; not a sound carried from one to the other. Thus, when one takes a sentence of Mr. B into the mind it falls plump to the ground - dead; but when one takes a sentence of Coleridge into the mind, it explodes and gives birth to all


73


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


kinds of other ideas, and that is the only sort of writing of which one can say that it has the secret of perpetual life.

But whatever the reason may be, it is a fact that one must deplore. For it means - here I had come to rows of books by Mr. Galsworthy and Mr. Kipling - that some of the finest works of our greatest living writers fall upon deaf ears. Do what she will a woman cannot find in them that fountain of perpetual life which the critics assure her is there. It is not only that they celebrate male virtues, enforce male values and describe the world of men; it is that the emotion with which these books are permeated is to a woman incomprehensible. It is coming, it is gathering, it is about to burst on one’s head, one begins saying long before the end. That picture will fall on old Jolyon’s head; he will die of the shock; the old clerk will speak over him two or three obituary words; and all the swans on the Thames will simultaneously burst out singing. But one will rush away before that happens and hide in the gooseberry bushes, for the emotion which is so deep, so subtle, so symbolical to a man moves a woman to wonder. So with Mr. Kipling’s officers who turn their backs; and his Sowers who sow the Seed; and his Men who are alone with their Work; and the Flag - one blushes at all these capital letters as if one had been caught eavesdropping at some purely masculine orgy. The fact is that neither Mr. Galsworthy nor Mr. Kipling has a spark of the woman in him. Thus all their qualities seem to a woman, if one may generalise, crude and immature. They lack suggestive power. And when a book lacks suggestive power, however hard it hits the surface of the mind it cannot penetrate within.

And in that restless mood in which one takes books out and puts them back again without looking at them I began to envisage an age to come of pure, of self-assertive virility, such as the letters of profes¬ sors (take Sir Walter Raleigh’s letters, for instance) seem to forebode, and the rulers of Italy have already brought into being. For one can hardly fail to be impressed in Rome by the sense of unmitigated mas¬ culinity; and whatever the value of unmitigated masculinity upon the state, one may question the effect of it upon the art of poetry. At any rate, according to the newspapers, there is a certain anxiety about fiction in Italy. There has been a meeting of academicians whose object it is “to develop the Italian novel”. “Men famous by birth, or in finance, industry or the Fascist corporations” came together the other day and discussed the matter, and a telegram was sent to the Duce expressing the hope “that the Fascist era would soon give birth to a poet worthy of it”. We may all join in that pious hope, but it is doubtful whether poetry can come out of an incubator. Poetry ought


74


CHAPTER VI


to have a mother as well as a father. The Fascist poem, one may fear, will be a horrid little abortion such as one sees in a glass jar in the museum of some county town. Such monsters never live long, it is said; one has never seen a prodigy of that sort cropping grass in a field. Two heads on one body do not make for length of life.

However, the blame for all this, if one is anxious to lay blame, rests no more upon one sex than upon the other. All seducers and reformers are responsible: Lady Bessborough when she lied to Lord Granville; Miss Davies when she told the truth to Mr. Greg. All who have brought about a state of sex-consciousness are to blame, and it is they who drive me, when I want to stretch my faculties on a book, to seek it in that happy age, before Miss Davies and Miss Clough were born, when the writer used both sides of his mind equally. One must turn back to Shakespeare then, for Shakespeare was androgynous; and so were Keats and Sterne and Cowper and Lamb and Coleridge. Shelley perhaps was sexless. Milton and Ben Jonson had a dash too much of the male in them. So had Wordsworth and Tolstoi. In our time Proust was wholly androgynous, if not perhaps a little too much of a woman. But that failing is too rare for one to complain of it, since without some mixture of the kind the intellect seems to predominate and the other faculties of the mind harden and become barren. However, I consoled myself with the reflection that this is perhaps a passing phase; much of what I have said in obedience to my promise to give you the course of my thoughts will seem out of date; much of what flames in my eyes will seem dubious to you who have not yet come of age.

Even so, the very first sentence that I would write here, I said, cross¬ ing over to the writing-table and taking up the page headed Women and Fiction, is that it is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex. It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly. It is fatal for a woman to lay the least stress on any grievance; to plead even with justice any cause; in any way to speak consciously as a woman. And fatal is no figure of speech; for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death. It ceases to be fertilised. Brilliant and effective, powerful and masterly, as it may appear for a day or two, it must wither at nightfall; it cannot grow in the minds of others. Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the art of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated. The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fullness. There must be freedom and there must be peace. Not a wheel must grate, not a light glimmer. The curtains must be close


75


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


drawn. The writer, I thought, once his experience is over, must lie back and let his mind celebrate its nuptials in darkness. He must not look or question what is being done. Rather, he must pluck the petals from a rose or watch the swans float calmly down the river. And I saw again the current which took the boat and the undergraduate and the dead leaves; and the taxi took the man and the woman, I thought, seeing them come together across the street, and the current swept them away, I thought, hearing far off the roar of London’s traffic, into that tremendous stream.

Here, then, Mary Beton ceases to speak. She has told you how she reached the conclusion - that prosaic conclusion - that it is necessary to have five hundred a year and a room with a lock on the door if you are to write fiction or poetry. She has tried to lay bare the thoughts and impressions that led her to think this. She has asked you to follow her flying into the arms of a Beadle, lunching here, dining there, drawing pictures in the British Museum, taking books from the shelf, looking out of the window. While she has been doing all these things, you no doubt have been observing her failings and foibles and deciding what effect they have had on her opinions. You have been contradicting her and making whatever additions and deductions seem good to you. That is all as it should be, for in a question like this truth is only to be had by laying together many varieties of error. And I will end now in my own person by anticipating two criticisms, so obvious that you can hardly fail to make them.

No opinion has been expressed, you may say, upon the compara¬ tive merits of the sexes even as writers. That was done purposely, because, even if the time had come for such a valuation - and it is far more important at the moment to know how much money women had and how many rooms than to theorise about their capacities - even if the time had come I do not believe that gifts, whether of mind or character, can be weighed like sugar and butter, not even in Cambridge, where they are so adept at putting people into classes and fixing caps on their heads and letters after their names. I do not believe that even the Table of Precedency which you will find in Whitaker’s Almanac represents a final order of values, or that there is any sound reason to suppose that a Commander of the Bath will ultimately walk into dinner behind a Master in Lunacy. All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are “sides”, and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a


76


CHAPTER VI


platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly ornamental pot. As people mature they cease to believe in sides or in Headmasters or in highly ornamental pots. At any rate, where books are concerned, it is notoriously difficult to fix labels of merit in such a way that they do not come off. Are not reviews of current literature a perpetual illustration of the difficulty of judgement? “This great book”, “this worthless book”, the same book is called by both names. Praise and blame alike mean nothing. No, delightful as the pas¬ time of measuring may be, it is the most futile of all occupations, and to submit to the decrees of the measurers the most servile of attitudes. So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacri¬ fice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.

Next I think that you may object that in all this I have made too much of the importance of material things. Even allowing a generous margin for symbolism, that five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate, that a lock on the door means the power to think for one¬ self, still you may say that the mind should rise above such things; and that great poets have often been poor men. Let me then quote to you the words of your own Professor of Literature, who knows better than I do what goes to the making of a poet. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch writes: 1


“What are the great poetical names of the last hundred years or so? Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Landor, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Morris, Rossetti, Swinburne - we may stop there. Of these, all but Keats, Browning, Rossetti were University men; and of these three, Keats, who died young, cut off in his prime, was the only one not fairly well to do. It may seem a brutal thing to say, and it is a sad thing to say: but, as a matter of hard fact, the theory that poetical genius bloweth where it listeth, and equally in poor and rich, holds little truth. As a matter of hard fact, nine out of those twelve were University men: which means that somehow or other they procured the means to get the best education England can give. As a matter of hard fact, of the remaining three you know that Browning was well to do, and I challenge you that, if he had not been well to do, he would no more have attained to write Saul or The Ring and the Book than


1 The Art of Writing, by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.


77


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


Ruskin would have attained to writing Modern Painters if his father had not dealt prosperously in business. Rossetti had a small private income; and, moreover, he painted. There remains but Keats; whom Atropos slew young, as she slew John Clare in a mad-house, and James Thomson by the laudanum he took to drug disappointment. These are dreadful facts, but let us face them. It is - however dishonouring to us as a nation - certain that, by some fault in our commonwealth, the poor poet has not in these days, nor has had for two hundred years, a dog’s chance. Believe me - and I have spent a great part of ten years in watching some three hundred and twenty elementary schools, - we may prate of democracy, but actually, a poor child in England has little more hope than had the son of an Athenian slave to be emancipated into that intellectual freedom of which great writings are born.”

Nobody could put the point more plainly. “The poor poet has not in these days, nor has had for two hundred years, a dog’s chance ... a poor child in England has little more hope than had the son of an Athenian slave to be emancipated into that intellectual freedom of which great writings are born.” That is it. Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but from the beginning of time. Women have had less intellectual freedom than the sons of Athenian slaves. Women, then, have not had a dog’s chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one’s own. However, thanks to the toils of those obscure women in the past, of whom I wish we knew more, thanks, curiously enough to two wars, the Crimean which let Florence Nightingale out of her drawing-room, and the European War which opened the doors to the average woman some sixty years later, these evils are in the way to be bettered. Otherwise you would not be here to-night, and your chance of earning five hundred pounds a year, pre¬ carious as I am afraid that it still is, would be minute in the extreme.

Still, you may object, why do you attach so much importance to this writing of books by women when, according to you, it requires so much effort, leads perhaps to the murder of one’s aunts, will make one almost certainly late for luncheon, and may bring one into very grave disputes with certain very good fellows? My motives, let me admit, are partly selfish. Like most uneducated Englishwomen, I like reading - I like reading books in the bulk. Lately my diet has become a trifle monotonous; history is too much about wars; biography too much about great men; poetry has shown, I think, a tendency to steril¬ ity, and fiction - but I have sufficiently exposed my disabilities as a critic of modern fiction and will say no more about it. Therefore


78


CHAPTER VI


I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to con¬ template the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream. For I am by no means confining you to fiction. If you would please me - and there are thousands like me - you would write books of travel and adventure, and research and scholarship, and history and biography, and criticism and philosophy and science. By so doing you will certainly profit the art of fiction. For books have a way of influencing each other. Fiction will be much the better for standing cheek by jowl with poetry and philosophy. Moreover, if you consider any great figure of the past, like Sappho, like the Lady Murasaki, like Emily Bronte, you will find that she is an inheritor as well as an origin¬ ator, and has come into existence because women have come to have the habit of writing naturally; so that even as a prelude to poetry such activity on your part would be invaluable.

But when I look back through these notes and criticise my own train of thought as I made them, I find that my motives were not alto¬ gether selfish. There runs through these comments and discursions the conviction - or is it the instinct? - that good books are desirable and that good writers, even if they show every variety of human depravity, are still good human beings. Thus when I ask you to write more books I am urging you to do what will be for your good and for the good of the world at large. How to justify this instinct or belief I do not know, for philosophic words, if one has not been educated at a university, are apt to play one false. What is meant by “reality”? It would seem to be something very erratic, very undependable - now to be found in a dusty road, now in a scrap of newspaper in the street, now a daffodil in the sun. It lights up a group in a room and stamps some casual say¬ ing. It overwhelms one walking home beneath the stars and makes the silent world more real than the world of speech - and then there it is again in an omnibus in the uproar of Piccadilly. Sometimes, too, it seems to dwell in shapes too far away for us to discern what then- nature is. But whatever it touches, it fixes and makes permanent. That is what remains over when the skin of the day has been cast into the hedge; that is what is left of past time and of our loves and hates. Now the writer, as I think, has the chance to live more than other people in the presence of this reality. It is his business to find it and collect it and communicate it to the rest of us. So at least I infer from reading Lear or Emma or La Recherche du Temps Perdu. For the reading of these books seems to perform a curious couching operation on the


79


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


senses; one sees more intensely afterwards; the world seems bared of its covering and given an intenser life. Those are the enviable people who live at enmity with unreality; and those are the pitiable who are knocked on the head by the thing done without knowing or caring. So that when I ask you to earn money and have a room of your own, I am asking you to live in the presence of reality, an invigorating life, it would appear, whether one can impart it or not.

Here I would stop, but the pressure of convention decrees that every speech must end with a peroration. And a peroration addressed to women should have something, you will agree, particularly exalt¬ ing and ennobling about it. I should implore you to remember your responsibilities, to be higher, more spiritual; I should remind you how much depends upon you, and what an influence you can exert upon the future. But those exhortations can safely, I think, be left to the other sex, who will put them, and indeed have put them, with far greater eloquence than I can compass. When I rummage in my own mind I find no noble sentiments about being companions and equals and influencing the world to higher ends. I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make it sound exalted. Think of things in themselves.

And again I am reminded by dipping into newspapers and novels and biographies that when a woman speaks to women she should have something very unpleasant up her sleeve. Women are hard on women. Women dislike women. Women - but are you not sick to death of the word? I can assure you that I am. Let us agree, then, that a paper read by a woman to women should end with something par¬ ticularly disagreeable.

But how does it go? What can I think of? The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their subtlety. I like their anonymity. I like - but I must not run on in this way. That cup¬ board there, - you say it holds clean table-napkins only; but what if Sir Archibald Bodkin were concealed among them? Let me then adopt a sterner tone. Have I, in the preceding words, conveyed to you sufficiently the warnings and reprobation of mankind? I have told you the very low opinion in which you were held by Mr. Oscar Browning. I have indicated what Napoleon once thought of you and what Mussolini thinks now. Then, in case any of you aspire to fiction, I have copied out for your benefit the advice of the critic about cour¬ ageously acknowledging the limitations of your sex. I have referred to Professor X and given prominence to his statement that women


80


CHAPTER VI


are intellectually, morally and physically inferior to men. I have handed on all that has come my way without going in search of it, and here is a final warning - from Mr. John Langdon Davies. 2 Mr. John Langdon Davies warns women “that when children cease to be altogether desirable, women cease to be altogether necessary”. I hope you will make a note of it.

How can I further encourage you to go about the business of life? Young women, I would say, and please attend, for the peroration is beginning, you are, in my opinion, disgracefully ignorant. You have never made a discovery of any sort of importance. You have never shaken an empire or led an army into battle. The plays of Shakespeare are not by you, and you have never introduced a barbarous race to the blessings of civilisation. What is your excuse? It is all very well for you to say, pointing to the streets and squares and forests of the globe swarming with black and white and coffee-coloured inhabitants, all busily engaged in traffic and enterprise and love-making, we have had other work on our hands. Without our doing, those seas would be unsailed and those fertile lands a desert. We have borne and bred and washed and taught, perhaps to the age of six or seven years, the one thousand six hundred and twenty-three million human beings who are, according to statistics, at present in existence, and that, allowing that some had help, takes time.

There is truth in what you say - I will not deny it. But at the same time may I remind you that there have been at least two colleges for women in existence in England since the year 1866; that after the year 1880 a married woman was allowed by law to possess her own prop¬ erty; and that in 1919 - which is a whole nine years ago - she was given a vote? May I also remind you that the most of the professions have been open to you for close on ten years now? When you reflect upon these immense privileges and the length of time during which they have been enjoyed, and the fact that there must be at this moment some two thousand women capable of earning over five hundred a year in one way or another, you will agree that the excuse of lack of opportunity, training, encouragement, leisure and money no longer holds good. Moreover, the economists are telling us that Mrs. Seton has had too many children. You must, of course, go on bearing chil¬ dren, but, so they say, in twos and threes, not in tens and twelves.

Thus, with some time on your hands and with some book learning in your brains - you have had enough of the other kind, and are sent to college partly, I suspect, to be un-educated - surely you should


2 A Short History of "Women, by John Langdon Davies.


81


A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN


embark upon another stage of your very long, very laborious and highly obscure career. A thousand pens are ready to suggest what you should do and what effect you will have. My own suggestion is a little fantastic, I admit; I prefer, therefore, to put it in the form of fiction.

I told you in the course of this paper that Shakespeare had a sister; but do not look for her in Sir Sidney Lee’s life of the poet. She died young - alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross-roads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here to-night, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. This opportunity, as I think, it is now coming within your power to give her. For my belief is that if we live another century or so - I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals - and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting- room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky, too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves; if we look past Milton’s bogey, for no human being should shut out the view; if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. As for her coming without that preparation, with¬ out that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born again she shall find it possible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would be impossible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while.


THE END


82


Appendix

Textual Variants and Emendations


Abbreviations Used in this Appendix

At first US edition (Fountain Press, 21 October 1929)

A2 second US edition (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 24 October 1929) El first UK edition (The Hogarth Press, 24 October 1929)

E2 second impression of El (The Hogarth Press, November 1929)

E3 third impression of El (The Hogarth Press, December 1929)

E4 fourth impression of El (The Hogarth Press, December 1929)

E5 fifth impression of El (The Hogarth Press, March 1930)

E6 sixth impression of El (Uniform Edition, The Hogarth Press, 1931 fi.e. 6 November 1930])

E7 seventh impression of El (Uniform Edition, The Hogarth Press, November 1931)

E8 eighth impression of El (Uniform Edition, The Hogarth Press, April 1935)

SH this Shakespeare Head edition

UP uncorrected proofs, 10-22 July 1929, R. & R. Clark, Ltd.,

Edinburgh (held by the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)


Textual Variants between the American and British First Editions

Poetry in El is in smaller type; in A1 and A2 it is in standard type. A verti¬ cal bar indicates the end of a line when this may have affected a variant.


A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf. Edited by David Bradshaw and Stuart N. Clarke. Editorial material © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


125


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.5

A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN 1 {above text}

Al.[l], A2.[l]

A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN {fly-title}

El.5

CHAPTER I

A1.3, A2.3

CHAPTER ONE

El.5

But

A1.3

BUT {first letter is an open capital and drops down to the line below}

A2.3

BUT {first letter is in bold and drops down to the line below}

El.5

1 This essay is based upon two papers read to the Arts Society at Newnham and the Odtaa at Girton in

October 1928. The papers were too long to be read in full, and have since been altered and expanded.

Al.[vii], A2.[v]

This essay is based upon two 1 papers read to the Arts Society 1 at Newnham and the Odtaa at 1 Girton in October 1928. The 1 papers were too long to be read 1 in full, and have since been 1 altered and expanded.

{centred on page}

El.14

buildings 1

Al.ll, A2.13

buildings,

El.17

glow

A1.14, A2.17

glow,

El.18

sub-lconscious

A1.15, A2.18

subconscious

El.18

someone

A1.15, A2.18

some one

El.20, A1.17

My heart [...] than all these {lines 1, 3, 5, 7 inset}

A2.20

My heart [...] than all these {lines 1, 3, 5, 7 flush with left-hand margin}

El.22

failed me — the {spaced dash}

A1.19, A2.23

failed me—the

El.23

my dear.

A1.19, A2.24

my dear?

El.25

My heart [...] apple tree {lines 1 and 3 inset)

A1.21, A2.26

My heart [...] apple tree {lines 1 and 3 flush with left-hand margin}


126


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.27

anyone

A1.23, A2.29

any one

El.28

we hope.

A1.25, A2.30

we hope, {comma italicised)

El.31

anyone

A1.27, A2.33

any one

El.32

to-night

A1.29, A2.35

tonight

El.36

any thing

A1.32, A2.39

anything

El.38

CHAPTER II

El.34, E2.42

CHAPTER TWO

El.38

The

A1.34

THE {first letter is an open capital and drops down to the line below)

A2.42

THE {first letter is in bold and drops down to the line below)

El.38, A2.42

Women and Fiction

A1.34

WOMEN AND FICTION

El.42

manual,

A1.38, A2.47

manual

El.43, A2.48

Women and Poverty

A1.39

WOMEN AND POVERTY

El.44

women?”

A1.40, A2.49

women” ?

El.44

extremes; {semi-colon italicised)

A1.40, A2.50

extremes;

El.54

sheep skins

A1.49, A2.60

sheepskins

El.54

worn crowns

A1.49, A2.61

worn their crowns

El.56

reason that that

A1.51, A2.63

reason than that


127


Textual Variants and Emendations

El.57 my self, my soul,—all

A1.52, A2.64 myself, my soul—all

El.59 so speculating

A1.54, A2.67 so speculating,

El.61 to-day”,

Al. 56, A2.69 to-lday,”

El. 61 aeroplane”.

A1.56, A2.69 aeroplane.”

El.62 CHAPTER III

A1.57, A2.71 CHAPTER THREE

El.62 It

A1.57 IT {first letter is an open capital and drops down to the

line below}

A2.71 IT {first letter is in bold and drops down to the line below)

El.63 mid-air

A 1.5 8 midair

A2.72 mid-lair

El.63 “position of”

A1.58,A2.72 “position of,”

El.63 “Wife-beating”,

A1.58, A2.72 “Wife-beating,”

El.65 Cassandra Atossa

A1.60, A2.74 Cassandra, Atossa

El.65 Heda

A1.61, A2.75 Hedda

El.65 Tragedy,

A1.61,A2.75 Tragedy, {comma italicised}

El. 6 8 rewrite

Al.63, A2.78 re-write

El.70 probably,—his

A1.64, A2.80 probably—his


128


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.73

to-day

A1.67, A2.84

today

El.76

man)

A1.70, A2.87

man),

El.77

Antony and Cleopatra ?

A1.71, A2.88

Antony and Cleopatra ? {question mark italicised)

El.77

line”.

A1.71, A2.89

line.”

El.77

Lear,

A1.71, A2.89

Lear, {comma italicised)

El.79

goodwill

A1.73, A2.91

good will

El.81

man”.

A1.74, A2.93

man.”

El.81

Saturday Review;

A1.75, A2.94

Saturday Review; {semi-colon italicised)

El.81

being”,

A1.75, A2.94

being,”

El.83

politicks

A1.77, A2.96

politics

El.84

whatsoever,

A1.77, A2.96

whatsoever

El.84

theory,—but

A1.77, A2.97

theory—but

El.83

Contemporary Music,

A1.76, A2.95

Contemporary Music, {comma italicised)

El.84

The Cause,

A1.78, A2.97

The Cause, {comma italicised)

El.87

CHAPTER IV

A1.80, A2.100

CHAPTER FOUR


129


Textual Variants and Emendations


El. 87 That

A 1.80 THAT (first letter is an open capital and drops down to

the line below}

A2.100 THAT (first letter is in bold and drops down to the line

below)

El.88 How are we fallen! [...] someone [...] outweigh the

fears, {inset}

A1.81, A2.101 How are we fallen! [...] some one [...] outweigh the fears, (flush with left-hand margin}

El.88 incandescent”.

A1.81,A2.101 incandescent.”

El.88-9 Alas! a woman [...] art and use. {inset}

Al.81-2, A2.102 Alas! a woman [...] art and use. (flush with left-hand

margin}

El.89 Now the jonquille [...] aromatic pain, {inset}

A1.82, A2.103 Now the jonquille [...] aromatic pain, (flush with

left-hand margin}

El.90 tuned

A1.83,A2.103 turned

El.90 “must have”,

A1.83,A2.104 “must have,”

El.90 My lines decried, [...] thought [...] presumptuous fault:

{inset}

A1.83, A2.104 My lines decried, [...] thought, [...] presumptuous fault:

(flush with left-hand margin}

El.90 My hand delights [...] inimitable rose, (inset)

A1.83, A2.104 My hand delights [...] inimitable rose, (flush with

left-hand margin}

El.91 scribbling”.

A1.84, A2.105 scribbling.”

El.91 in one”.

A1.84, A2.105 in one.”

El.91 “uninteresting”.

A1.84, A2.105 “uninteresting.”


130


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.91

house”.

A1.84, A2.105

house.”

El.92

Courts”.

A1.85, A2.106

Courts.”

El.95

have made”,

A1.88, A2.110

have made,”

El.95

sat”,

A1.88, A2.110

sat,”

El.96

jewels”,

A1.89, A2.111

jewels,”

El.96

responsibility”.

A1.89, A2.111

responsibility.”

El.97

scribbling”,

A1.90, A2.112

scribbling,”

El.97

rewriting

A1.90, A2.112

re-writing

El.98

Aphra Behn, which

A1.91, A2.113

Aphra Behn 1 which

El.99

to-night

A1.91, A2.114

tonight

El.99

compelled

A1.92, A2.115

compelled,

El.100

all this”,

A1.92, A2.115

all this,”

El.100

party”.

A1.92, A2.116

party.”

El.101

anyone

A1.93, A2.117

any one

El.102

Antony and Cleopatra ;

A1.94, A2.117

Antony and Cleopatra; {semi-colon italicised)


131


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.102

phrase

A1.94, A2.118

phrase,

El.102

likes”.

A1.94, A2.118

likes.”

El.102

for? I wondered.

A1.94, A2.118

for, I wondered?

El.104

Pride and Prejudice,

Al.96, A2.120

Pride and Prejudice, {comma italicised}

El.105

Villette, Emma, Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch.

A1.97, A2.122

Villette, Emma, Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch. {commas italicised}

El.106

understood”,

A1.98, A2.122

understood,”

El.106

anyone

A1.98, A2.122

any one

El.106

world”.

A1.98, A2.122

world.”

El.106

world”,

A1.98, A2.123

world,”

El.108

judgements

A1.99, A2.124

judgments

El.110

Jane Eyre,

A1.101, A2.127

Jane Eyre, {comma italicised}

El.Ill

“trivial”.

A1.102, A2.128

“trivial.”

El.Ill

battle-field

A1.102, A2.128

battlefield

El.Ill

“only a woman”, or {...] “as good as a man”.

A1.103, A2.129

“only a woman,” or [...] “as good as a man.”

El.113

suitable—.. female

A1.104, A2.130

suitable: “... female


132


El.113

A1.104, A2.131


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.113

A1.104, A2.130 El.113

A1.104, A2.131


El.113

A1.105, A2.131 El.116

A1.107, A2.134 El.116

A1.108, A2.135 El.119

A1.110, A2.137

El.119 Al.llO

A2.137


El.120

Al.lll, A2.138 El.122

A1.112, A2.140 El.123

A1.114, A2.141 El.123

A1.114, A2.142 El.124

A1.115, A2.143 El.125

A1.116, A2.144


sex”.

sex.”

New Criterion,

New Criterion, {comma italicised)

accomplished ...).”— Life and Letters, accomplished).. ..”— Life and Letters, {comma italicised)

pools;

pools,

play suit play suits

acts. Would she use verse?—would acts—would she use verse—would

CHAPTER V CHAPTER FIVE

I HAD

I HAD {first letter is an open capital and drops down to the line below)

I HAD {first letter is in bold and drops down to the line below)

Life’s Adventure,

Life’s Adventure, {comma italicised)

someone some one

all women all women,

Life’s Adventure,

Life’s Adventure, {comma italicised)

nature of women nature of woman

anaemia;

anaemia;


133


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.126

A1.116, A2.145 El.129

A1.118, A2.149 El.131

A1.121, A2.151 El.132

A1.123, A2.153 El.133

A1.123, A2.153 El.136

A1.126, A2.157 El.137

A1.127, A2.158 El.137

A1.127, A2.159 El.138

A1.128, A2.159


El.140

A1.130, A2.162 El.140

A1.130, A2.162 El.140

A1.130, A2.162 El.141

A1.131, A2.163 El.141

A1.131, A2.163 El.142

A1.131, A2.164


“hate women”,

“hate women,”

“highly developed”, “infinitely intricate”

“highly developed,” “infinitely intricate,”

“as if gone out”.

“as if gone out.”

“superior”.

“superior.”

fellowship,

fellowship

counter too — I would {spaced dash} counter too—I would

anyone any one

you do”, you do,”

“elemental feelings”, the “common stuff of humanity”, “the depths of the human heart”,

“elemental feelings,” the “common stuff of humanity,” “the depths of the human heart,”

“a situation”.

“a situation.”

begin — how {spaced dash) begin—how

someone some one

to right or to left, to right or I left.

was fence was a fence

someone some one


134


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.142 Life’s Adventure,

A1.131, A2.164 Life’s Adventure, {comma italicised)

El. 143 CHAPTER VI

A1.132, A2.165 CHAPTER SIX

El. 143 Next

A1.132 NEXT {first letter is an open capital and drops down to

the line below)

A2.165 NEXT {first letter is in bold and drops down to the line

below)

El.143 26th

A1.132, A2.165 twenty-sixth

El. 146 mind”?

A1.135, A2.168 mind,”

El.147 man’s brain [...] woman’s brain

A1.136, A2.170 man’s brain, [...] woman’s brain,

El.150 “I”, {three times)

A1.139, A2.173 “I.” {three times)

El. 151 “but”.

A1.139, A2.174 “but.”

El.151 gate”,

A1.140, A2.175 gate,”

El.151 shoot”,

A1.140, A2.175 shoot,”

El.152 (I said

A1.140, A2.175 (I said,

El.153 trouble was that

Al.14'1, A2.176 trouble was, that

El.155 novel”.

A1.143, A2.179 novel.”

El.155 worthy of it”.

A1.143, A2.179 worthy of it.”


135


El.155

A1.144, A2.179 El.156

A1.144, A2.180 El.156

A1.145, A2.181 El.157

A1.145, A2.181 El.159

A1.147, A2.184 El.159

A1.147, A2.184 El.160

A1.148, A2.185 El.161

A1.149, A2.186 El.162

A1.150, A2.187 El.163

A1.151, A2.188 El.163

A1.151, A2.189 El.165

A1.153, A2.191 El.168

A1.156, A2.195 El.168

A1.156, A2.195 El.171

A1.158, A2.198

El.172, A2.199 A1.159


Textual Variants and Emendations

responsible:

responsible,

so were Keats and Sterne so was Keats and Sterne

anyone any one

the art of creation the act of creation

walk into dinner walk in to dinner

“sides”,

“sides,”

judgement? “This great book”, “this worthless book”, judgment? “This great book,” “this worthless book,”

The Art of Writing ,

The Art of Writing, {comma italicised)

schools,—we schools—we

curiously enough curiously enough,

to-lnight,

tonight,

now a daffodil now in a daffodil


necessary”.

necessary.”

History of Women ,

History of Women, {comma italicised)

to-night,

tonight,

THE END

(omitted)


136


Textual Variants and Emendations

Textual Variants among the British Editions

For six small variants in the excerpts from A Room of One’s Own published in Time and Tide, 22 and 29 November 1929, see EV 132.

p. 10 (SH.5) El, E2, E3, E4: succession, I

E5, E6, E7, E8: succession I {comma lost, but text not flush with right-hand margin}

p. 12 (SH.6) El, E2 E3, E4: look-1 ing

E5, E6, E7, E8: look- I ing {text not flush with left-hand margin} El, E2, E3, E4: I style and

E5, E6, E7, E8: I style and {text not flush with left-hand margin} El, E2, E3, E4: I library itself

E5, E6, E7, E8: I library itself {text not flush with left-hand margin}

p. 31 (SH.15) El, E2, E3: Life of Miss Emily Davies 1 E4, E5, E6, E7, E8: Emily Davies and Girton College

p. 75 (SH.37) El, E2, E3, E4, E5, E6, E8: certainly.

E7: certainly {full stop very faint, almost invisible}

p. 127 (SH.62) El, E2, E4, E5, E6, E7, E8: thought, again E3: thought, again {t, in bold}

p. 137 (SH.66) El, E2, E3, E4, E5, E6, E8: upon my E7: upon my {m unreadable; y damaged}

p. 161 (SH.77) El, E2, E3: fairly well to do.

E4: fairly well to do. {full stop very faint, almost invisible}

E5, E6, E7, E8: fairly well to do

p. 168 (SH.80) El: I like their subtlety.

E2, E3, E4, E5, E6, E7, E8:1 like their completeness.


1 A copy of a letter of 13 December 1929 requesting this change, from the Hogarth Press to R. & R. Clark, is in the Hogarth Press Archives (MS 2750, folder 570), University of Reading.


137


Textual Variants and Emendations

The Uncorrected Proofs


Dr Isaac Gewirtz has compiled a list of variants between the uncor¬ rected proof copy (UP) and the first American edition (Al) and pub¬ lished his findings in Woolf Studies Annual, 17 (2011), pp. 43-76, together with a stimulating analysis, ‘“With Anger and Emphasis”: The Proof Copy of A Room of One’s Own’, pp. 1-42. We have used his list of variants to compare UP with the first British edition (El).


UP. 6

El.6

women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, myste¬ rious, unknown.

women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems.

UP. 8

El.8

spoken of, Women and Fiction spoken of, women and fiction


UP. 8

El.8

On the farther bank beautiful willows wept

On the further bank the willows wept


UP. 9

El.9

at once very beautiful, and important at once very exciting, and important


UP. 9

El.9

To think this was the work of a moment.

Such thoughts were the work of a moment.


UP. 10 El.10

it is here in the courts it is in the courts


UP. 12 El.12

Thackeray’s more perfect novel.

Thackeray’s most perfect novel.


UP. 12

El.12

I remember; only perhaps the eighteenth-century indeed quite natural to Thackeray—

I remember; unless indeed the eighteenth-century natural to Thackeray—

style was

style was

UP. 13 El.13

to go in had I the right to enter had I the right


UP. 13 El.13

at the door like bees

at the door of the Chapel like bees


138


UP. 14 El.14

UP. 16

El.16

UP. 17 El.17

UP. 18 El.18

UP. 18 El.18

UP.20 El .20

UP.20 El .20

UP.20 El .20

UP.20 El .20

UP.22

El .22

UP.23-4 El .23-4


Textual Variants and Emendations

inside. But the outside inside. The outside

as if soup, salmon and ducklings were of no importance whatever

as if soup and salmon and ducklings were of no impor¬ tance whatever

glow, the rich yellow flame glow which is the rich yellow flame

quadrangle by some fluke of the sub-conscious intelli¬ gence changed the emotional light

quadrangle changed by some fluke of the sub-conscious intelligence the emotional light

as I watched the manx cat as I watched the Manx cat

women sang at luncheon parties women hummed at luncheon parties

people saying such things people humming such things

by pointing at the manx cat by pointing at the Manx cat

beautiful—you know the sort of things

beautiful. It is strange what a difference a tail makes—

you know the sort of things

fears it; that one watches it with keenness and compares it jealously and suspiciously with what is being born in one at the moment. Hence

fears it; one watches it with keenness and compares it jealously and suspiciously with the old feeling that one knew. Hence

Fernham. The truth—Which was truth and which was illusion, I asked myself? What is the truth Fernham. Yes indeed, which was truth and which was illusion, I asked myself? What was the truth


139


Textual Variants and Emendations

UP.25 the beauty of the world revealed and yet soon to pass (here El.25 the beauty of the world revealed and yet soon to perish (here

UP.25 into the garden by an open door, for, unwisely El.25 into the garden, for, unwisely

UP.25 the beauty of the world which is so soon to pass, has

El.25 the beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has

UP.26 could it be that famous scholar El.26 could it be the famous scholar

UP.27 That was all. Everybody

El.27 That was all. The meal was over. Everybody

UP.29 we slipped freely

El.29 we were slipping freely

UP.29 which spring naturally such beginnings.

El.29 which spring naturally from such beginnings.

UP.29 being said I became shamefacedly aware, however, of a current

El.29 being said, however, I became shamefacedly aware of a

current

UP.30 gallant red bricks and El.30 gallant red brick and

UP.31 the editor of the-to take a letter?

El.31 the editor of the-to print a letter?

UP.32 had gone into business, become a manufacturer El.32 had gone into business; had become a manufacturer

UP.32 hundred thousand pounds to this college, we El.32 hundred thousand pounds to Fernham, we

UP.33 wine, and have looked forward El.33 wine; we might have looked forward


140


Textual Variants and Emendations

UP.34 altogether. Thirteen brothers and sisters. No human being El.34 altogether. Making a fortune and bearing thirteen children— no human being

UP.35 to found a scholarship or endow a fellowship El.35 to found a scholarship or to endow a fellowship

UP.35 “amenities”; partridges and wine El.35 “amenities”; for partridges and wine

UP.36 throwing strange blues and purples on the pavement El.36 throwing strange globes and crescents on the pavement

UP.36 the pleasant carpets and of the urbanity El.36 the pleasant carpets: of the urbanity

UP.37 locked out; and then I thought El.37 locked out; and I thought

UP.37 of poverty and insecurity of the other and of their effect upon the mind

El .3 7 of the poverty and insecurity of the other and of the effect of tradition and of the lack of tradition upon the mind

UP.39 in Bloomsbury boarding-houses in the winter.

El.39 in the boarding-houses of Bloomsbury in the winter.

UP.41 among the other seekers, for the essential oil El .41 among the other seekers for the essential oil

UP.43 Condition of, in Middle Ages El .43 Condition in Middle Ages of

UP.43 In the Feejee Islands El.43 Habits in the Fiji Islands of

UP.43 Lacking in moral sense El .43 Weaker in moral sense than

UP.43 Age of puberty among South Sea Islanders El .43 South Sea Islanders, age of puberty among


141


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP.44

E1.44

UP.44

E1.44

UP.44

E1.44

UP.44

E1.44


UP.44-5 El.44-5

UP.45

E1.45


UP.45,fn.l E1.45,fn.l

UP.46

E1.46

UP.46

E1.46

UP.46


E1.46


UP.48

E1.48


I drew breath. I added, indeed, in the margin I drew breath and added, indeed, in the margin

somewhat harrassed thought somewhat harassed thought

wise men never say the same thing wise men never think the same thing

a direct contradiction it seems by men who were contemporary.

a direct contradiction by keen observers who were contemporary.

Dr. Johnson thought the very opposite.

Dr. Johnson thought the opposite.

humiliating. It made me wish more than ever that I had had been educated at Oxbridge, 'll humiliating. Truth had run through my fingers. Every drop had escaped, 'll

women knowing as much as themselves.... In women knowing as much as themselves.’ ... In

puberty among the Feejee Islanders puberty among the South Sea Islanders

why bother about W. and the future? why bother about W. in the future?

specialise in women and her effect on whatever it may be; politics, children, ways, morality, numerous and learned as they are. One might as well leave them unopened.

specialise in woman and her effect on whatever it may be—politics, children, wages, morality—numerous and learned as they are. One might as well leave their books unopened.

the student next to me— the student next me—


142


UP.49

E1.49

UP. 5 2 El.52

UP. 5 3

El.53

UP. 5 3-4


El.53-4


UP. 5 4-5

El.54-5


Textual Variants and Emendations

the habits of the Feejee Islanders, the habits of the Fiji Islanders.

exemplary fathers and husbands in private life, exemplary in the relations of private life.

psychological puzzles that one meets with so frequently in daily life?

psychological puzzles that one notes in the margin of daily life?

natural size. The Czar looks into the eyes of the Czarina; the Kaiser looks into the eyes of the Kaiserin; in both they see themselves reflected far bigger than they appear elsewhere. Thus they begin bragging and boasting; they imagine themselves Supermen or Fingers of Destiny or whatever the phrase may be; and we are plunged in all the glories of a European war. Mirrors are essential to men of action in particular, I thought. That is why

natural size. Without that power probably the earth would still be swamp and jungle. The glories of all our wars would be unknown. We should still be scratching the outlines of deer on the remains of mutton bones and bartering flints for sheep skins or whatever simple orna¬ ment took our unsophisticated taste. Supermen and Fingers of Destiny would never have existed. The Czar and the Kaiser would never have worn crowns or lost them. Whatever may be their use in civilised societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action. That is why

he really is? The looking-glass vision, the superiority complex—if one must drag in such ugly words—has become a necessity to him. It charges him with vitality; it stimulates his nervous system. Take it away and he may die

he really is? So I reflected, crumbling my bread and stirring my coffee and now and again looking at the people in the street. The looking-glass vision is of supreme importance because it charges the vitality; it stimulates the nervous system. Take it away and man may die

143


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP. 5 5


El.55


UP. 5 5 El.55

UP. 5 6 El.57

UP. 5 7 El.57

UP. 5 7-8

El.57

UP. 5 8 El.57

UP. 5 8 El.57


half the people here, and it is then that they speak with that self-confidence, that self-assurance—but the course of these reflections was interrupted. The waiter brought the bill, 'll And the theory of the looking-glass, I thought, as I opened my purse, also serves to explain what other¬ wise seems irrational and against human interest—the strong wish on the part of one sex that the other shall not bring trophies to the common store surpassing those which he brings himself. Were a tribe of women discov¬ ered in Central Asia, say, one of whom had written plays better than Lear, another made a discovery of greater importance than Einsteins, the news would be received in London at first with incredulity; later, if it were con¬ firmed, such a rage, such a jealousy would seize upon the rivals that they would steal off at dead of night and make away with these divine works, or write over the Anne or Jane on the title-page an emphatic George or John, 'll But these contributions

half the people here, and it is thus that they speak with that self-confidence, that self-assurance, which have had such profound consequences in public life and lead to such curious notes in the margin of the private mind, 'll But these contributions

of your own—was interrupted of your own—were interrupted

and then to do it like a slave and to do it like a slave

too great to run any risk too great to run risks

rubbed off by those silver shillings, and fear and bitterness go.

rubbed off; fear and bitterness go.

slipping the change into my purse slipping the silver into my purse

flatter any man; he had nothing to give me. flatter any man; he has nothing to give me.


144


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP. 5 8 El.58

UP. 5 8 El.58

UP. 5 9 El.58

UP. 60 El.59

UP. 60 El.59


UP. 61 El.60

UP. 62 El.61

UP. 6 3


El.62


UP. 65 El.64 UP.67-8


any class or any sex, I thought, as a whole, any class or any sex, as a whole.

endless difficulties, terrific drawbacks endless difficulties, terrible drawbacks

to make barriers and flags to make frontiers and flags

So in thinking and speculating I So thinking, so speculating I

red eyes, flaunting in the breeze. Even

red eyes, a tawny monster roaring with hot breath.

Even

who has brought up eight children less valuable to brought up eight children of less value to

my paper, which is Women and Fiction? my paper, Women and Fiction?

dish-water. It would be better to narrow the enquiry. It would be better to draw the curtains; to shut out all distractions ; to light the lamp; to go to the bookcase and to ask the historian

dish-water. It would be better to draw the curtains; to shut out distractions; to light the lamp; to narrow the enquiry and to ask the historian

the Duchess of Malfi, to begin with among the dramatists

the Duchess of Malfi, among the dramatists

to life, to make an ordinary human being of her, was to think poetically and prosaically at one and the same moment, thus keeping in touch with fact—that she is Mrs. Martin dressed in blue, wearing a black hat and brown shoes; but not losing sight of fiction either— that she is a vessel of all sorts of spirits and forces, coursing and flashing perpetually through her veins. The moment


145


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.66-7


UP. 6 8 El.67

UP. 6 8

El.67

UP. 6 9 El.68

UP. 71 El.70

UP. 71 El.70

UP. 72 El.71

UP.77

El.76

UP.77 El.76

UP. 7 8

El.77

UP. 7 8 El.77


to life was to think poetically and prosaically at one and the same moment, thus keeping in touch with fact—that she is Mrs. Martin, aged thirty-six, dressed in blue, wearing a black hat and brown shoes; but not losing sight of fiction either—that she is a vessel in which all sorts of spirits and forces are coursing and flashing perpetually. The moment

history meant to him, and I found history meant to him. I found

so on. History did not mean women: occasionally an individual woman is mentioned, an Elizabeth, a Mary so on. Occasionally an individual woman is mentioned, an Elizabeth, or a Mary

presumably in parish registers presumably, in parish registers

ignorance shrank at their approach! ignorance shrank back at their approach!

impossible, utterly and entirely impossible, completely and entirely

became a hard-working actor became a successful actor

by them. The chief glory of a woman is not to be talked of, said Pericles, himself a much talked-of man—that by them (the chief glory of a woman is not to be talked of, said Pericles, himself a much talked-of man) that

without feeling any irresistible desire without feeling an irresistible desire

state of mind when he wrote Lear and Antony and Cleopatra, I wondered?

state of mind, for instance, when he wrote Lear and Antony and Cleopatra ?

that there has ever been, that there has ever existed.


146


Textual Variants and Emendations

UP.79 dead”, that is the burden of their song.

El.78 dead”—that is the burden of their song.

UP.80 was not in her case indifference El.79 was in her case not indifference

UP. 81 I will quote, I thought, going to the bookcase, Mr. Oscar Browning

El.80 I will quote, however, Mr. Oscar Browning

UP. 82 the two pictures are often available, so

El.81 the two pictures often do complete each other, so

UP.83 said Mr. Greg, “are

El.81 said Mr. Greg emphatically, “are

UP. 84 she was snubbed and slapped El.83 she was snubbed, slapped

UP. 84 strained and harassed with the need of opposing this or disproving that. For here again we come within range of that very interesting and obscure masculine complex—as I suppose one must call it; that deep-seated desire El.83 strained and her vitality lowered by the need of opposing

this, of disproving that. For here again we come within range of that very interesting and obscure masculine com¬ plex which has had so much influence upon the woman’s movement; that deep-seated desire

UP. 84 all my violence in politiks El.83 all my violence in politicks

UP.85 strange one, I thought. An amusing book might be made of it if some young student at Girton or Newnham would collect examples and anecdotes and sayings,—but she El.84 strange one, I thought. The history of men’s opposition to

women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself. An amusing book might be made of it if some young student at Girton or Newnham would collect examples and deduce a theory,— but she


147


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP.85,fn.l

E1.84,fn.l

UP. 8 6 El.85

UP. 8 6 El.85

UP. 8 7 El.86

UP. 8 7

El.86


UP. 8 9 El.88

UP. 92 El.91

UP. 9 3 El.92

UP. 9 5 El.94

UP. 9 6 El.95

UP. 9 7

El.96

UP. 9 7

El.96


by Ray Strachey. by R. Strachey.

Think of Tennyson—think—but Think of Tennyson; think—but

the opinion of others, the opinions of others.

some hardship or injury was fired out of him some hardship or grievance was fired out of him

Shakespeare. His mind was incandescent, unimpeded, I thought, turning again to the bookcase.

Shakespeare. If ever a mind was incandescent, unim¬ peded, I thought, turning again to the bookcase, it was Shakespeare’s mind.

into two parts. Men into two parties. Men

back ont he shelf back on the shelf

to mind! It is as if to mind! as if

then I an gon. then I am gon.

humour, candour, vitality humour, vitality

cultivated cultured taste and many accomplishments was

cultivated taste and many accomplishments, was

ruled the estates with supreme competence for ever

after. That was in the nineteenth century

ruled his estates with supreme competence for ever

after. That whimsical despotism was in the nineteenth

century


148


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP.100 El.99

UP.100-1

El.100


UP. 102 El.101

UP.103 El.102

UP. 10 3-4 El.102-3

UP.105 El.104

UP. 10 8-9

El.107

UP.109

El.108


in England the poetesses precede the prose writers, in England the women poets precede the women novelists.

common sitting-room. And though it must always be difficult to write in the common sitting-room with people going in and out, still it would be easier to write prose and fiction there than to write poetry or a play. Less concentration is required. One would not lose one’s temper so violently if interrupted. Jane Austen common sitting-room. And, as Miss Nightingale was so vehemently to complain,—“women never have an half hour . . . that they can call their own”—she was always interrupted. Still it would be easier to write prose and fiction there than to write poetry or a play. Less concen¬ tration is required. Jane Austen

spread itself upon history or biography when the creative impulse was spent.

spread itself when the creative impulse was spent upon history or biography.

perhaps Jane Austen was so perfectly adapted that she never wanted what she had not.

perhaps it was the nature of Jane Austen not to want what she had not.

and it was this that they blamed her for and it was for this that they blamed her

I thought, the continuity is disturbed. It is upsetting I thought. It is upsetting

The whole structure, it seems to me, thinking back on any famous novel is one of infinite complexity;

The whole structure, it is obvious, thinking back on any famous novel is one of infinite complexity,

it is rather, I thought, trying to match my own emotions more exactly, that Nature, very queerly and for no reason that I can see, has traced

it is rather that Nature, in her most irrational mood, has traced


149


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP.110

El.109

but there they stop; but there they stop:

UP.110

El.109

in their development; in their development:

UP.110

El.109

with this vast labour with the vast labour

UP.lll

El.110

beneath her passion, which contracts beneath her passion, a rancour which contracts

UP. 112

El.Ill

the difference persists.

the difference of value persists.

UP. 112

El.Ill

with docility and diffidence, with anger and emphasis, with docility and diffidence, or with anger and emphasis.

UP.113

El.112

governess, nagging at them, adjuring them governess, adjuring them

UP. 114

El.113

written in August 1928 and not in August 1828 written not in August 1828 but in August 1928

UP.114,fn.2

E1.113,fn.l

sex, Jane Austen, and, in our own time, Mrs. Virginia Woolf have [has] demonstrated how gracefully this gesture can be accomplished). .. .” sex (Jane Austen [has] demonstrated how gracefully this gesture can be accomplished ...).”

UP.115

El.114

thoughts on paper, and that is thoughts on paper—that is

UP.116

El.115

precious, which has taken their own tint precious, taking their own tint

UP.116

El.115

ran something like this: Perhaps the grandeur ran something like this perhaps: “The grandeur

UP.116

El.115

facilitates success. That facilitates success.” That


150


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP. 116-


El.115 UP.117 El.115

UP.117

El.116

UP.117 El.116

UP.118

El.116

UP.119 El.117

UP.119 El.118

UP. 120

El.119


17 never departed from it. She examined their employ¬ ments, looked at their work and advised them to do it differently; found fault with the arrangement of the furniture, or detected the housemaid in negligence; and if she accepted any refreshment, seemed to do it only for the sake of finding out that Mrs. Collins’ joints of meat were too large for her family. Thus, with less genius never departed from it. Thus, with less genius

freedom and fullness of expression is of the essence of writing, such

freedom and fullness of expression are of the essence of the art, such

made by men and cut by their own need for their own uses.

made by men out of their own needs for their own uses.

the words inadequacy the words’ inadequacy

how a woman would write a poetic tragedy in five acts nowadays—not in verse, I think, how a woman nowadays would write a poetic tragedy in five acts. Would she use verse?—would she not use prose rather?

something different, and what that difference should be? something that is different; and what should that dif¬ ference be?

If they are not going to be allowed to practise medicine


If through their incapacity to play football women are not going to be allowed to practise medicine-

There is Jane Harrison’s book on Greek archaeology; Vernon Lee’s book on aesthetics; Gertrude Bell’s book on Persia.

There are Jane Harrison’s books on Greek archaeol¬ ogy; Vernon Lee’s books on aesthetics; Gertrude Bell’s books on Persia.


151


UP.121 El.120

UP.121 El.120

UP. 122 El.121


UP. 122 El.121

UP. 123 El.122

UP. 125 El.124

UP.126 El.125

UP.127


El.126


UP.127 El.126

UP.128 El.127

UP.128

El.127

UP.129 El.128

UP.129 El.128


Textual Variants and Emendations

published this October.

published in this very month of October.

in a fairly long series; continuing in a fairly long series, continuing

from melody to melody, to read this

from melody to melody as Mozart from song to song, to

read this

that she is afraid that she was afraid

I give her every liberty I will give her every liberty

I thought, vaguely recalling the splendid gallery I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery

even in Proust

even in the writing of Proust

some quality in her style—I know not what—(one must wait till the end to name these things); if she has a room to herself, of which I am not quite sure, if some quality in her style; if she has a room to herself, of which I am not quite sure; if

like those Serpentine Caves like those serpentine caves

for women are so wary, so suspicious for women are so suspicious

in their direction. Oh yes, he will be in in half an hour, they say, and sit down and talk about the weather.” The only way in their direction. The only way

to absorb it into the rest without disturbing to absorb the new into the old without disturbing

One cannot go to the map One could not go to the map


152


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP.130 El.129

UP. 130-1 El.129

UP.132 El.131

UP.133

El.132

UP.133 El.132

UP.137

El.136

UP.137

El.136

UP.138 El.137

UP. 13 8-9

El.137

UP. 141

El.140


medals and other distinctions.

medals and other distinctions by which his merits are stamped upon him indelibly.

for one reason or another sought out, lived with, confided in, made love to, written of, admired, trusted in for one reason or another admired, sought out, lived with, confided in, made love to, written of, trusted in

silks; hard as horsehair silks; are hard as horsehair

But how different is this creative power from the creative power

But this creative power differs greatly from the creative power

a thousand pities if her creative power were hindered a thousand pities if it were hindered

his use of Miltonic inversion which old Thing-em-a-bob and his like

his use of Miltonic inversion which old Professor Z and his like

Think how with what humanity and brilliancy men, from the earliest ages, have pointed out to women then- faults!

Think with what humanity and brilliancy men, from the earliest ages, have pointed out to women that dark place at the back of the head!

what in fact Mary Carmichael was writing, what in fact Mary Carmichael did write.

their natural order, as they came in her mind, as a woman would

their natural order, as a woman would

merely, but had been scattering her pages with fore¬ thought. Now

merely, but had looked beneath into the depths. Now


153


UP.141-2 El.140

UP. 142 El.140

UP. 143 El.142

UP. 144 El.143

UP.147 El.146

UP.148 El.147

UP.149

El.148


UP. 150


El.149


UP. 150 El.149

UP. 152


Textual Variants and Emendations

half forgotten perhaps, quite trivial things half forgotten, perhaps quite trivial things

while some one sewed while someone sewed

a room of her own and an adequate income, let give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let

by the average woman of a style by the average woman of a prose style

“the unity of the mind”, I pondered “the unity of the mind”? I pondered

the greatest possible satisfaction and happiness, the greatest satisfaction, the most complete happiness.

what one meant by an androgynous, conversely by a gynandros mind, by looking

what one meant by man-womanly, and conversely by woman-manly, by pausing and looking

now than ever before, I thought, coming to the books by living writers, and there pausing and wondering if this fact were not at the root of something that had long been puzzling me.

now than ever before. Here I came to the books by living writers, and there paused and wondered if this fact were not at the root of something that had long puzzled me.

a new novel by Mr. A who a new novel by Mr. A, who

Nothing will grow there. That, however, is all Lady Bessborough’s fault. Lady Bessborough with her passion for politics always pretended that the Napoleonic wars were not half so important as Lord Granville’s maiden speech. Naturally, he believed her, and when he comes to write (for Mr. A descends from Lord Granville, just as Mary Carmichael descends from Lady Winchilsea) his pen forms the letter “I” by instinct. And then, of course,


154


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.151-2


UP.153 El.152 UP. 153-4


he descends from Oscar Browning, who found the stu¬ pidest man more intelligent than the cleverest woman; so that when he comes to write about women he has nothing of great interest to say about them; but simpli¬ fies them and cannot put a bone in their bodies. And then I continued, remembering the lunch party at Oxbridge, and the cigarette ash and the Manx cat and Tennyson and Christina Rossetti all in a bunch,” as he no longer hums under his breath, ‘There has fallen a splendid tear from the passion-flower at the gate’, when Phoebe crosses the beach, and she no longer replies, “My heart is like a singing bird whose nest is in a water’d shoot”, when he approaches what can he do?

Nothing will grow there. And partly for some more obscure reason. There seemed to be some obstacle, some impediment in Mr. A’s mind which blocked the fountain of creative energy and shored it within narrow limits. And remembering the lunch party at Oxbridge, and the cigarette ash and the Manx cat and Tennyson and Christina Rossetti all in a bunch, it seemed possible that the impediment lay there. As he no longer hums under his breath, “There has fallen a splendid tear from the passion-flower at the gate”, when Phoebe crosses the beach, and she no longer replies, “My heart is like a singing bird whose nest is in a water’d shoot”, when Alan approaches what can he do?

awful nature of the confession, which proved me cold as

ice and old as the hills, seems

awful nature of the confession, seems

does it on purpose. But it is not Mr. A’s fault, I said, skipping through the rest of the book; it is the fault of Miss Clough and Miss Emily Davies. When Miss Clough and Miss Emily Davies said that girls had brains and must be allowed to use them, Mr. A’s grandfather said on the contrary they have but two desires, to serve men and to minister to their needs; and Mr. A (who descends, of course, from his grandfather) puts his grandfather’s teaching very piously into practice. It is partly in protest against Miss Clough and Miss Davies that he does it, again and again, and attaches what would otherwise


155


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.152


UP. 154

El.153

UP. 155


seem to be disproportionate importance to the physical act which Shakespeare, who had not known Miss Clough and Miss Davies, lumps up together with a thousand other states of mind and makes poetry of. 'll What, then, one must begin to fear, I thought, and glancing at a critic, and then at a biographer, and then at a poet, all well known and young and brilliant, is that virility does it on purpose. He does it in protest. He is protest¬ ing against the equality of the other sex by asserting his own superiority. He is therefore impeded and inhibited and self-conscious as Shakespeare might have been if he too had known Miss Clough and Miss Davies. Doubtless Elizabethan literature would have been very different from what it is if the woman’s movement had begun in the sixteenth century and not in the nineteenth, 'll What, then, it amounts to, if this theory of the two sides of the mind holds good, is that virility

the trouble is, it seems, that his feelings no longer communicate; his mind is separated into different chambers: not a sound carries from one the trouble was that his feelings no longer communicated; his mind seemed separated into different chambers; not a sound carried from one

the secret of perpetual life, f But of course this is a purely subjective test and may very well prove only my limitations as a reader, not Mr. B’s as a critic. It is also my fault, I cannot doubt, that I read those eloquent passages by Mr C, which seem to blossom in purple and red, I feel as if the gilt arm-chair were spouting to the mahogany sideboard in the dusk. And when I see his metaphors approaching slowly over the horizon they look like the stuffed ravens in the Gotterdammerung, and one is anxious lest they should topple over in mid-air and fly out again upside-down among the laughter of the audience. All this is one’s own fault, no doubt, or the fault of one’s sex; but it is a thousand pities, for it means that some of the finest works of our greatest living writers, the Forsyte Saga and the works of Mr. Kipling, for instance, are not appreciated by women. They fail in suggestive power. It is not only


156


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.153


UP.156 El.154

UP.156

El.154

UP.157


El.154-5

UP.158


the secret of perpetual life, 'll But whatever the reason may be, it is a fact that one must deplore. For it means— here I had come to rows of books by Mr. Galsworthy and Mr. Kipling—that some of the finest works of our great¬ est living writers fall upon deaf ears. Do what she will a woman cannot find in them that fountain of perpetual life which the critics assure her is there. It is not only

moves a woman to laughter, moves a woman to wonder.

in him. To women, therefore, books which are said to be the finest of our time remain dusty monuments, cabinets to which men alone have the key. 'll in him. Thus all their qualities seem to a woman, if one may generalise, crude and immature. They lack sugges¬ tive power. And when a book lacks suggestive power, however hard it hits the surface of the mind it cannot penetrate within, 'll

unmitigated masculinity; by the network of regulations— one must not put one’s foot there, one must not take off one’s coat here. On every little grocer’s shop there is stamped the head of a man whom one is invited to wish to live for ever. And not a blank wall is without its poster celebrating the triumph of some General; and not a courtyard is without its grown men in black shirts wheeling and turning in response to the shouts of offic¬ ers. But the military side of it is beyond our purview; what effect has all this drumming and trampling, this trumpeting of manly ideals upon the art of poetry? Well, according to the newspapers

unmitigated masculinity; and whatever the value of unmitigated masculinity upon the state, one may ques¬ tion the effect of it upon the art of poetry. At any rate, according to the newspapers

Two heads on one body or two bodies without a head do not make for length of life. ^ However, the fault for all this rests with women, of course, for had they stayed shut up in their sitting-rooms embroidering bags, or now and again taking a walk on the leads and looking


157


El.155-6


UP.158 El.156

UP.159 El.156

UP. 160-1


Textual Variants and Emendations

at the view, the other sex would not have had to assert its virility. The blame for all this cock-a-doodling is to be laid, strange though it may seem, to the charge of certain very small demure women, who issued sometime about 1850 from obscure parsonages and middle-class homes in the English provinces: Miss Clough, Miss Leigh Smith, Miss Emily Davies. It is entirely their fault that English literature is infected with cock-a-doodle-dum; and it is they who drive me

Two heads on one body do not make for length of life, 'll However, the blame for all this, if one is anxious to lay blame, rests no more upon one sex than upon the other. All seducers and reformers are responsible: Lady Bessborough when she lied to Lord Granville; Miss Davies when she told the truth to Mr. Greg. All who have brought about a state of sex-consciousness are to blame, and it is they who drive me

Lamb and Coleridge. Milton and Ben Jonson

Lamb and Coleridge. Shelley perhaps was sexless.

Milton and Ben Jonson

since without that quality books are airless and sterile. However

since without some mixture of the kind the intellect seems to predominate and the other faculties of the mind harden and become barren. However

before the art of creation can be accomplished. What this collaboration is, how it takes place or has in the past taken place no critic or psychologist can tell us. With Antony and Cleopatra to guide us, one may say that the prelude to creation is an experience of such width and variety that one must take the sea and sky for likeness if one seeks one. The experience was agitated, broken, tempestuous; the mind was taken and thrown against the rocks and shattered in a thousand fragments. But there must have then here been some reconciliation; some marriage of opposites must have taken place to produce that sense of freedom that remains with one when one has read the play. One would not have had that feeling if Shakespeare had interfered, had checked


158


Textual Variants and Emendations


El.157

UP.161 El.158

UP. 162

El.158

UP. 162

El.158

UP. 162

El.159


his mind and forced it to do this and that. Any such consciousness would have chilled the flow of the words that are all melted together and made them harden and fall off separately one by one. “Daffodils that come before the swallow dares” must have been written at a stroke; whole scenes have that molten uniformity. It is presumptuous, it may be, even to hazard a guess at what went on in that particular brain. But whatever was Shakespeare’s state of mind, one may perhaps arrive at the general statement that the whole of the mind must lie wide open if it is to work freely, if this marriage is to take place between opposites, if we are to get the sense before the art of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated. The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense

that tremendous stream, 'll Here, then that tremendous stream. ^ f Here, then

lunching at a men’s college, dining at a woman’s, drawing pictures

lunching here, dining there, drawing pictures

doing all these things, I hope that you have been contra¬ dicting her and making whatever additions and deduc¬ tions seem good to you. Many things are visible to you that are not visible to her. Much that she thinks plain will seem to you questionable. That is all doing all these things, you no doubt have been observ¬ ing her failings and foibles and deciding what effect they have had on her opinions. You have been contradicting her and making whatever additions and deductions seem good to you. That is all

That was done purposely, not from cowardice or eva¬ siveness, but because, even if the time had come for such a valuation, I do not believe

That was done purposely, because, even if the time had come for such a valuation—and it is far more important at the moment to know how much money women had and how many rooms than to theorise about their capacities—even if the time had come I do not believe


159


Textual Variants and Emendations


UP. 163 El.160

UP. 164 El.160

UP. 166 El.162

UP. 167 El.164

UP. 167-8 El.164

UP.168

El.165

UP.168 El.165

UP. 169

El.165

UP. 169 El.165

UP. 170


current literature a source of perpetual amusement? “This great book”—“this worthless book”—the same book current literature a perpetual illustration of the diffi¬ culty of judgment? “This great book”, “this worthless book”, the same book

symbolism, allowing that five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate, and that a lock symbolism, that five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate, that a lock

of which great writing are born.” of which great writings are born.”

Speaking selfishly, I hope that you will possess By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess

let the line of thoughts dip deep into the stream, let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.

into existence because women for some time previously had had the habit of writing; so that into existence because women have come to have the habit of writing naturally; so that

good writers, even if they cheat and lie and beat their husbands and wives, are still good good writers, even if they show every variety of human depravity, are still good

I do not know, for, not having been educated at a univer¬ sity, I am incapable of using scientific words correctly. What is

I do not know, for philosophic words, if one has not been educated at a university, are apt to play one false. What is

What do I mean by “reality”? I wonder. It would seem What is meant by “reality” ? It would seem

the world seems bared, its covering rolled off it. Those are the enviable people who live at enmity with unreal¬ ity. Those are the pitiable


160


Textual Variants and Emendations

El. 166 the world seems bared of its covering and given an

intenser life. Those are the enviable people who live at enmity with unreality; and those are the pitiable

UP.170 have a room of your own, to try to write a book, even if it is a bad one, I am asking you El.166 have a room of your own, I am asking you

UP.170 who will put them, I feel sure, with far greater eloquence than I can.

El. 167 who will put them, and indeed have put them, with far

greater eloquence than I can compass.

UP. 171 I often like women. I often find them very interesting. I like their unconventionality.

El. 167-8 I often like women. I like their unconventionality.

UP.172 from Mr. John Langdon Davies. 1 He warns women El.168 from Mr. John Langdon Davies. 1 Mr. John Langdon

Davies warns women

UP. 173 We—or our mothers—have borne and bred

El.169 We have borne and bred

UP.173 allowing that some had nurses to help them, takes time.

El.169 allowing that some had help, takes time.

Emendations to the Present Edition

The first Hogarth Press edition (El) serves as the copy-text for the present edition (SH). In SH, the footnotes are numbered in sequence within each chapter; in El, by page. Un-spaced em dashes in El have been changed to spaced en dashes in SH. End-line hyphens in the copy-text have been resolved on the basis of other occurrences and are not reported.

SH.[1] A ROOM OF I ONE’S OWN 1 {fly-title; fn. moved to bottom of page}

El.5 A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN 1 {above text}

SH.ll failed me - the

El.22 failed me - the {spaced dash}


161


Textual Variants and Emendations


SH.22

E1.44

extremes;

extremes; {semi-colon italicised}

SH.27

El.56

reason than that reason that that

SH.32,fn.l

E1.65,fn.l

Cassandra,

Cassandra

SH.33,fn.

E1.65,fn.l

114-15. {en-line}

114-15.{hyphen}

SH.38

El.78

French Revolution ;

French Revolution; {semi-colon italicised}

SH.38

El.78

Madame Bovary ;

Madame Bovary; {semi-colon italicised}

SH.44

El.89

To some few friends [...] there content, {centred} To some few friends [...] there content, {not inset}

SH.66

El.136

counter too - I would

counter too - I would {spaced dash}

SH.66

El.137

Casaubon

Casuabon

SH.68

El.140

begin - how

begin - how {spaced dash}

SH.68

El.141

there was a fence {cf. A1.131, A2.163} there was fence

SH.77-8

El.161-2

“What are [...] born.” {inset}

“What are [...] born.” {not inset}




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