Virginia Woolf: "A Room of One's Own"

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Virginia Woolf: "A Room of One's Own"
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Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own (52:42)

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." So spoke Virginia Woolf in 1929 as she discussed the problems of the writer and of women in general. Woolf’s talk represents perhaps the most persuasive of all her writings on liberty, literature, and the role of women in her society. Woolf spoke not only about writing, but about writing as a woman—speaking in an age when women were deprived of virtually every possibility of earning their own living. In this program, the actress Eileen Atkins re-creates her acclaimed one-woman stage show based on Woolf’s talk, in the original lecture hall at Girton College, Cambridge, where Woolf spoke, and amidst the background of Cambridge, with its distinguished colleges and elegant riverbanks that were the original inspiration for Woolf’s noble and exhilarating talk. (53 minutes)

Women and Fiction (02:55)
In 1928 Virginia Woolf speaks to a group of female students at Girton College. Her lecture is "A Room of One's Own." Woolf concludes that a woman must have money and a room of her own.

No Women Allowed (03:50)
Woolf struggles to find a conclusion to her presentation on women and fiction. She takes the same path to the Cambridge library as Charles Lamb did. She is refused entrance.

Men's Colleges vs. Women's Colleges (06:30)
Woolf describes the ritual of dinner at Girton College, where she is to give her lecture. She asks about the "soul" of Girton. The college struggles to get by on a stingy budget.

Harsh Reality of Being a Woman (04:36)
Woolf probes the reasons for the poverty of women's opportunities versus those of men. How does this poverty affect women's fiction? She finds it difficult to find the answer in men's writings.

Women's Historical Inferiority (04:35)
Woolf probes historians to discover the truth behind the inferior position of women. Woolf reads from Trevelyan's history. Women in fiction do not reflect women in the real world.

Shakespeare's Sister (05:50)
Woolf questions the proclamations of great men who have deprecated women. She speculates about a make-believe sister of Shakespeare. How does her life differ from that of the playwright?

Genius in Women: A Curse? (07:03)
Woolf believes that genius in women exists as surely as it did in men. How many repressed female writers and poets died in obscurity? Women often wrote under a male pen name.

Women Writers: Aphra Behn (03:13)
Mrs. Aphra Behn proves that women could make money from their writing. Late in the 18th century, the middle-class woman begins to write. Behn set in motion all that came after in women's fiction.

Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte (06:33)
Jane Austen writes her "Pride and Prejudice" manuscript in secrecy. The minds of both Austen and Shakespeare consumed all impediments to expressing their body of work.

Inspiration for Young Women Writers (04:51)
Woolf encourages young women writers to be themselves, first and foremost. She urges women to find their voices. Woolf suggests that the sister of Shakespeare is the voice that will be heard.