A Room of One's Own

Synopsis: A one-woman show based on the writings of Virginia Woolf, the tragic writer who committed suicide in 1941.
Director(s): Patrick Garland
53 min


I'm back from speaking of Girton in

floods of rain starve but valiant young

women that's my impression intelligent

eager poor and destined to become school

mistresses in shoals I blandly told them

to drink wine and had a room of their


I felt elderly and mature and nobody

respected me they were very eager

egotistical or rather not much impressed

by age group you did a little reverence

or that sort of thing about in 1928.

Virginia Woolf was invited to Cambridge

to talk to a small group of young women

at Girton College the title of her

lecture was a Room of One's Own but you

may say we asked you to speak about

women and fiction what does that got to

do with a room of one's own

I will try to explain when you asked me

to speak to you about women and fiction

I sat down on the banks of the river

here in Cambridge and began to wonder

what the words meant they might mean a

few remarks about Fanny Burney a few

more by Jane Austen a tribute to the

bronty's with a sketch of how earth

passed near jaundice know some

witticisms if possible about miss.

Medford a respectful allusion to George.

Eliot a reference to mrs. Gaskill one

would have done but but second side the

word seemed not so simple the title

women and fiction might mean and you

might have meant it to mean women and

what they are like or women and the

fiction they write or women and the

fiction that is written about them or it

might mean that somehow all three are

inextricably linked and when I came to

consider that this was the most

interesting possibility 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

fulfill what I understand is the first

duty of a lecturer to hand you

after an hour's discourse a nugget of

pure truth for you to wrap up between

the pages of your notebooks and keep on

the mantelpiece

all I can do is offer an opinion upon

one minor point

a woman must have money and a room of

her own if she is to write fiction.

I was sitting on the banks of the river

for week or two ago and fine October

weather lost in thought the river

reflected whatever it shows of sky and

bridge and burning tree and an

undergraduate was poling his boat

through the reflections women and

fiction and the need to come to some

conclusion bowed my head to the ground

there I might have sat the top rung lost

in thought when you know the little tug

the sudden conglomeration of an idea at

the end of one's line it became all at

once very exciting and important and set

up such a tumult of ideas that it was

impossible to sit still that I found

myself walking with extreme rapidity

across a grass plot

instantly a man's figure rose to

intercept me nor did I first understand

but the gesticulations of a curious

looking object in a cutaway coat an

evening shirt were fingered me his face

expressing horror and indignation he was

a Beadle I was a woman

this was the turf

there was the path only a fellows and

scholars are allowed here the gravel was

the place for me such thoughts were the

work of a moment as I regained the path

the arms of the Beatles sang his face

regained its usual repose and although

turf is better walking than gravel no

very great harm was done the spirit of

peace descended like a cloud for if the

spirit of peace dwells anywhere it is in

the courts and quadrangles of Cambridge

on a fine October day

as chance would have it some stray

memory of some old essay about

revisiting Cambridge in the long

vacation brought Charles lab to mind

certainly he wrote an essay the name

escapes me about seeing the original

manuscript of one of milton's poems

there lissa death perhaps and land road

had shocked him to think that any word

of listeners could be different from

wattages I amused myself by guessing

which word it could have been that

milton had altered and why when it

suddenly occurred to me that the very

manuscript itself which lamb had looked

at was only a few hundred yards away and

I could follow Lambs footsteps across

the quadrangle to the famous library

where the treasure is kept

I was just opening the door which leads

to the library when as instantly they

issued like a guardian angel barring the

way with a flatter a black gown instead

of white wings a deprecating silvery

kindly gentleman who regretted in a low

voice as he waved me back that ladies

were only admitted to the library if

accompanied by a fellow of the college

or furnished with a letter of


but a famous library has been cursed by

a woman is a matter of complete

indifference to a famous library

venerable and calm its treasure safe

locked within its breasts it sleeps

complacently and well so far as I'm

concerned so seek forever

never will I wake those echoes never

will I ask for that hospitality again I

vowed as I descended the steps in anger

but the clock stuck it was time to make

my way to garden for dinner.

Deena was being served in the Great Hall

everybody was assembled dinner was ready

here was my soup it was a plane gravy

soup there was nothing to stir the fancy

in that one could see through the

transparent liquid any pattern that

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

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Virginia Woolf

Adeline Virginia Woolf (; née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device. Woolf was born into an affluent household in South Kensington, London, the seventh child in a blended family of eight. Her mother, Julia Stephen, celebrated as a Pre-Raphaelite artist's model, had three children from her first marriage; her father, Leslie Stephen, a notable man of letters, had one previous daughter; their marriage produced another four children, including the modernist painter Vanessa Bell. While the boys in the family were educated at university, the girls were home-schooled in English classics and Victorian literature. An important influence in her early life was the summer home the family used in St Ives, Cornwall, where she first saw the Godrevy Lighthouse, which was to become iconic in her novel To the Lighthouse (1927). Woolf's childhood came to an abrupt end in 1895 with the death of her mother and her first mental breakdown, followed two years later by the death of her stepsister and surrogate mother, Stella Duckworth. From 1897–1901 she attended the Ladies' Department of King's College London, where she studied classics and history and came into contact with early reformers of women's higher education and the women's rights movement. Other important influences were her Cambridge-educated brothers and unfettered access to their father's vast library. She began writing professionally in 1900, encouraged by her father, whose death in 1905 was a major turning point in her life and the cause of another breakdown. Following the death, the family moved from Kensington to the more bohemian Bloomsbury, where they adopted a free-spirited lifestyle; it was there that, in conjunction with their brothers' intellectual friends, they formed the artistic and literary Bloomsbury Group. In 1912 Woolf married Leonard Woolf, and in 1917 they founded the Hogarth Press, which published much of her work. The couple rented second homes in Sussex and moved there permanently in 1940. Throughout her life Woolf was troubled by bouts of mental illness, which included being institutionalised and attempting suicide. Her illness is considered to have been bipolar disorder, for which there was no effective intervention at the time. Eventually in 1941 she drowned herself in a river at age 59. During the interwar period, Woolf was an important part of London's literary and artistic society. She published her first novel, The Voyage Out, in 1915, through her half-brother's publishing house, Gerald Duckworth and Company. Her best-known works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928). She is also known for her essays, including A Room of One's Own (1929), in which she wrote the much-quoted dictum, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Woolf became one of the central subjects of the 1970s movement of feminist criticism, and her works have since garnered much attention and widespread commentary for "inspiring feminism", an aspect of her writing that was unheralded earlier. Her works are widely read all over the world and have been translated into more than 50 languages. A large body of literature is dedicated to her life and work, and she has been the subject of many plays, novels, and films. Some of her writing has been considered offensive and has been criticised for a number of complex and controversial views, including anti-semitism and elitism. Woolf is commemorated today by statues, societies dedicated to her work and a building at the University of London. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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