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Synopsis

Originally published in October 1929, A Room of One's Own was based on a series of lectures Woolf gave at Girton and Newnham Colleges in Cambridge during the previous year. The overriding theme concerns the conditions necessary to allow a woman to write for a living in a society (her own) that is a patriarchy. The requirements, Woolf suggests, are that she have a room of her own in which to work – hence the title – and a yearly income, ideally a trust from which to draw. Of course, these are merely the pegs onto which Woolf hangs a treatise that is an essential feminist text. At times the writing is disjointed and in some places extravagant, but throughout we see one of the great novelists turn her ire upon a society that excludes women physically and mentally from what they every right to enjoy in life. Whether those exclusions are educational – Woolf begins with an anecdote about being barred from a college library – social or sexual, the writing is, in contemporary terms, unflinching.

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