A Room of One's Own (1991) Movie Script

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
the romps of cattle in a muddy market
and straps curled and yellowed at the
edge and bargaining and cheering and
women with string bags on Monday
mornings there was no reason to complain
of human nature's daily food seeing that
the supply was sufficient and coalminers
darkness was sitting down to this
prunes and custard followed now if
anyone complains the prunes
even when mitigated with custard are an
uncharitable vegetable for fruit they
are not stringy as amazed as heart and
exuding a fluid such as might run in a
misers veins
you should affect that there are people
whose charity embraces even the Putin
biscuits and cheese came next to clear
the water jug was passed liberally round
the table for it is the nature of
biscuits to be dry and these were
biscuits to the core but that was all
the meal was over everybody spread their
chairs back soon the hall was emptied of
any sign of food and made very no doubt
for breakfast the next morning up to
staircases and down corridors the youth
of England went banging and seen and was
it for the guests a stranger to say
dinner was not good
by now I was alone with my friend
let us call her Mary Seaton in her
sitting-room and happily at my friend
who taught science had a cupboard where
there was a squat bottle and little
glasses so we were able to draw up to
the fire and repair some of the damages
of the day's living I thought it best to
expose what was in my mind the air so I
asked miss Seaton this college where
when are sitting what lies beneath it's
gallant red brick and wild unkempt
grasses of the garden what force lies
behind that plain China of which we
dined and the beef and the custard and
the prunes
well said Mary Seaton on about the Year
1860 over to know the story she said
bored I suppose with the recital and she
told me Romans were hired committees met
envelopes will address circulars drawn
up meetings were held letters read out
servants promised so much mr. Sansa
won't give a thing the Saturday Review
has been very rude how are we going to
pay for the offices shall behold a
bazaar what about a concert can we get a
pretty girl to sit in the front row can
anyone get the editor of The Times to
print a letter can we get anything to
sign it lady thing is out of town well
that was the way it was done presumably
60 years ago and it was a prodigious
effort the founder of this college Emily
Davis said we ought to ask for 30,000 at
least it is not a large sum considering
there is but one college of the 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 rarely wish
women to be educated at all it is a very
great deal
so obviously we cannot have wine and
partridges and servants carrying tin
trays on their heads that my friend we
cannot have sofas and separate rooms
every penny that could be scraped
or set aside for the building the
amenities will have to wait
and so we talked standing at the window
looking down as many thousands do every
night on the domes and towers of the
famous city beneath us
the gentleman's colleges look very
beautiful very mysterious in the autumn
moonlight the old stone with white and
venerable I thought of all the books
that were assembled I'm heir of the
pictures of old credits and were these
hanging in panel drums of the painted
windows and the fountains and the grass
of the quiet rooms looking across
squired quadrangles
fund I thought to whom I must admit of
the admirable smoke drink of the deep
armchairs and pleasant carpets of the
urbanity the geniality the dignity which
are the offspring of luxury privacy and
certainly our mothers not provided us
with anything comparable to all this
our mothers who found it difficult to
raise 30,000 pounds no there could be no
doubt about it for some reason or other
our mothers had mismanaged their affairs
very gravely
penny could be spared for amenities the
partridges and why for beetles and turf
for books and cigars for libraries and
to raise bare walls out of the bare
earth was the most they could do
the inevitable sequel to that visit to
Cambridge had started a swarm of
questions in my mind which seemed to
demand unfortunately a visit to the
British Museum
why did men drink wine and women water
why was one sex of prosperous and the
other so poor what effect had poverty on
fiction what conditions are necessary
for the creation of works of art I need
answers not questions and an answer can
only be had by consulting the learner
and the competitors if truth cannot be
found among the shareholders of the
British Museum then where is truth I
wonder if you have 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
young women aware that you are perhaps
the most discussed animal in the
universe I thought there was I with
notebook and pencil proposing to spend a
morning reading and supposing that by
the end of the morning
I should have transferred the truth to
my notebook but I should need to be a
herd of elephants to cope with all this
in despair around my eyes up and down
the long list of titles sex in its
nature might well attract doctors and
biologists what was much more difficult
to explain was by sex women that is also
attracts messes light-fingered novelists
young men with an MA degree men with no
degree at all men with no apparent
qualifications whatsoever saved that
they were not women
professor's school masters sociologists
clergymen novelists essayist journalists
all chasing my simple and single
question why are women poor every page
of my notebook was scribbled over with
notes the heading was women and poverty
but what followed it was women habits in
the Fiji Islands of weaker in moral
sense then South Sea Islanders age of
puberty among attractiveness of offered
a sacrifice to small size of brain of
less hair on the body of love of
children of weaker muscles of vanity of.
Shakespeare's opinion or dr. Johnson's
opinion all and so on how on earth.
Samuel Butler write wise men never say
what they think of women as far as I
could see wise men never say anything
else I couldn't possibly go home and
there's a serious contribution to my
study of women and fiction that women
had less hair on their bodies than men
or that the age of puberty among South.
Sea Islanders was 9 what is it 90
what I had been pondering where I should
have been coming to a conclusion I had
been sketching a face a figure it was
the face and figure of Professor von X
engaged in writing his monumental work
entitled the mental model and physical
inferiority of the female sex he was not
a man attractive to women heavily built
he had a great drought balance that he
have very small eyes he was very red in
the face
his expression suggested that he was
laboring under some emotion which made
him jab his pen of his paper as if he
was killing some obnoxious insect and
even when he had killed it that still
did not satisfy him he must go on
killing it even then some cause for
anger and irritation remains could it be
his wife I wondered was she in love with
a cavalry officer slim and elegant and
dressed in Astrakhan Oh to adopt the.
Freudian theory had he been laughed at
in his cradle by a pretty girl for even
in his cradle I do not think the
professor had been an attractive child
anyway for whatever reason the professor
was made to look very angry and very
unattractive in my drawing
but why well all the professor's angry I
thought it better to narrow the inquiry
and turn to the historian who records
not opinions but facts to find out under
what conditions women live not
throughout the centuries but in England
say at 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
capable of a song or a sonnet so I
turned to Professor Trevelyan history of.
England once more I looked up women
found positional and turning to the
pages indicated I come across this
was a recognized right of man and was
practiced without shame by high as well
as low similarly 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 inflicted on public
opinion marriage was not an affair of
personal affection but a family avarice
particularly in the upper classes the
truth will often took place while one or
both parties were in the cradle and
marriage when they were scarcely out of
the nurses charge
now this passage refers to 1470 soon
after the time of Chaucer the next
reference we have the position of women
comes some 200 years later at the time
of the Stuart's it was saw the exception
of a women of upper and middle class to
choose their own husbands and when a
husband had been assigned he was Lord
and Master so far as law and custom
could make him yet even serve neither.
Shakespeare's women nor those of
authentic seventeenth-century memoirs
seemed wanting in personality and
I'll 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 was speaking no
more than the truth when he said that.
Shakespeare's women did not seem lacking
in personality and character indeed not
being an historian one might go further
and say that women had burnt like
beacons in the works of poets from the
beginning of time Clytemnestra.
Antigone fedra Cressida Desdemona the.
Duchess of Malfi Milliman Becky shark.
Anna Karenina Emma Bovary had a table
the names flocked mind
nor do they recall women lacking in
personality and character indeed if
woman had no existence saving the works
of fiction written by man I might
imagine her to be a person of the utmost
very various heroic and mean splendid
and sordid infinitely beautiful and
hideous in the extreme as great as a man
some might think even greater
but this is woman in fiction in fact as.
Professor Trevelyan points out she was
locked up beaten and flung about the
room so a very queer composit being thus
emerges imaginative issues of the
highest importance practically she is
completely insignificant she pervades
poetry from cover to cover she's all but
absent from history in fiction she
dominates the lives of kings and
conquerors in fact she was the slave of
any boy whose parents forced her wing
upon her finger
the most inspired words the most
profound thoughts fall from her lips in
literature in real life she could hardly
read could scarcely spell and was the
unique property of her husband
but it's certainly a strange monster one
makes up if one reads the historians
first and the poet second a worm
wings like an eagle the spirit of beauty
in the kitchen chopping up suet but here
am I asking why women did not write
poetry in the Elizabethan age and I'm
not sure how they were educated whether
they were taught to write whether they
had sitting-rooms
how many of them had children before the
age of 21
what in short they did between 8 in the
morning and 8 at night but 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 it would have been extremely
hard even on this showing if one of them
had suddenly written the plays of
Shakespeare and I thought of that old
gentleman who is dead now but was a
bishop who declared that it was
impossible for any woman past present or
to come to have the genius of
he wrote to the papers about it he also
told a lady who applied him for
information that cats do not as a matter
of fact go to heaven although they do
have souls
of a sort
how much thinking those both gentlemen
used to save one how the borders of
ignorant shrank back their approach
cats do not go to heaven
women cannot write the plays of
be that as it may I cannot help agreeing
with the bishop at least in this that it
would have been impossible for any woman
to have written the plays of Shakespeare
in the age of Shakespeare Shakespeare
himself went very probably his mother
was an heiress to the Grammar School
there he may have learned Latin and the
elements of grammar and logic he was it
as 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 neighborhood 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 tradition tells us
he started by holding horses at the
stage door soon he got work in the
theatre he became a successful actor
living the hub of the universe meeting
everybody knowing everybody practising
his art upon the boards and exercising
his wit in the streets and even gaining
access to the Palace of the Queen
but I like to imagine mmm since facts
are hard to come by the cheeks beer had
a wonderfully gifted sister called.
Judith let us say she was as adventurous
as imaginative as a god to see the world
as he was she was not sent to school she
had no chance of learning grammar and
logic let alone of reading Latin she
picked up a book known again perhaps one
of her brothers and read a few pages but
then her parents came in and told her to
mend the stockings or mind the stew and
not a moon about with books she
scribbled a few pages on the sly up in
the Apple loft but was careful to hide
them what set fire to them soon however
before she was out of her teens she was
betrothed to the son of a neighboring
wool stapler she cried out that manage
was hateful to her and for that she was
severely beaten by her father
she made a small parcel of her
belongings let herself down by rope one
summers night and took the road to.
London she was not 17
the birds that sang in the hitches were
not more musical than she was she had
the quickest fancier gift like her
brothers for the tune of words like him
she had a taste for the theater she
stood at the stage door she wanted to
she said men laughed in her face the
manager a fat loose lipped manga Ford
and 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
find no training in her craft but could
she even seek her dinner in a tavern or
roam the streets at midnight yet her
genius was perfection and she lusted to
feed abundantly upon the lives of men
and women in the study of their ways at
but she was very young oddly like
Shakespeare the poet in her face the
same grey eyes the same rounded brows
the last Nick green the actor manager
took pity on her she found herself with
child by their gentlemen
Who can measure the heat and violence of
a poet's heart when court entangled in a
woman's body and so
she killed herself one winter's night
and lies buried at the crossroads where
the Omnibus is now stopped outside the.
Elephant and Castle
that more or less is how I think the
story would run if any woman in.
Shakespeare's day had had Shakespeare's
genius but for my part now I agree with
the deceased mission it is unthinkable
that any woman in Shakespeare's day
short of had Shakespeare's genius yet
genius of some sort must have existed
among women as it must have existed
among the labouring classes now and
again and Emily Bronte or Robert Burns
blazes out and proves its presence but
it certainly never got itself onto paper
when however one reads of a witch being
dumped or of a woman possessed by Devils
what of a wise woman selling herb or
even of a very remarkable man who had a
mother then I think we were onto the
track of some lost novelist some
repressed poet some mutant inglorious
Emily Bronte - her brains out on the
moors or mocked and mode on the highways
crazed with the torture that her gift
had put a do
indeed I venture to suggest that uh norm
who wrote sermon appearance without
signing them was often a woman and I
suggest it was a woman who made the.
Ballards and folk songs crooning them to
her children beguiling her spinning with
them along the length of a winter's
evening that may be true it may be false
who can say but what is true it seems to
me is that any woman born with a great
gift in the 16th century would certainly
have gone crazed shot herself or ended
her days in some lonely cottage outside
the village Partridge ha wizard feared
and mocked at
to have lived a free life in London in
the 16th century would have meant for
any woman who was poet and playwright a
nervous stress and dilemma which might
have killed her
contacted Lee had she survived when one
looks at the shelves of books where
there are no plays by women and no
poetry by women she would have gone
unsigned chastity maybe a fetish
invented by certain societies were
unknown reasons but it had been and
still has now a religious importance in
women's lives and it is a relic of that
sense of chastity which has dictated
anonymity to women and to even late in
the nineteenth century.
Cara Ellis Acton Belle George Eliot Joe
saw all victims of inner strife as their
writings prove sort ineffectively to
veil themselves by using the name of a
so it was a pattern that even late in
the 19th century a woman was not
encouraged to be an artist on the
contrary she was snubbed slapped
lectured and exhorted a mind must have
been strained and her vitality lured by
the need of opposing this and disproving
that for here we come within range of
that very interesting and obscure
masculine complex that deep-seated
desire not so much the tree should be
inferior but that he shall be superior
which class him wherever one looks not
only in front of the Arts but barring
the way to politics to the even lady
best black with all her passion for
politics hungry Bowser self and rights
to her fen lady loosen gore
notwithstanding my violence in politics
and talking so much from that subject I
perfectly agree with you that no woman
has any right to meddle with that or
with any serious business other than
giving her opinion if
she is asked
but what one finds amusing now when one
thinks of lady besra had to be taken in
desperate honest ones have opinions that
one now pastes in a book labeled
cockadoodle dumb drew tears once I can
assure you amongst your grandmothers and
great-grandmother's there were many who
wet their eyes and Florence Nightingale
shrieked aloud in her agony mano burr it
is opening all for you you have got
yourselves to college and enjoy sitting
rooms even bed sitting rooms of your own
for you to say Jean you should disregard.
Japan's genius should be above caring of
the world says of it unfortunately it is
precisely the men and women of genius
mind most of all what is said of them
remember heat remember the words he had
kept on his tombstone will think of
Tennyson think of but I need hardly
multiply examples of the undeniable if
very unfortunate fact that it is the
nature of the artist of mind
excessively what is said of him
literature is strewn with the wreckage
of men who have minded beyond all reason
the opinion of others because the mind
of the artist in order to achieve the
prodigious effort a freeing whole an
entire the work that is in him must be
incandescent like Shakespeare's mind
there must be no obstacle no foreign
matter unconsumed
all desire to protest to preach to
proclaim an injury to pay off an old
score to make the world witness to some
hardship must be fired out and consumed
as it was in Shakespeare's mind oh the
poetry flows out of him free and
unimpeded if ever a human being
expressed his work completely
it is Shakespeare
perhaps that's why we know so little
about him his grudges his hates his
antipathy as a hidden promise if ever
mind it was incandescent unimpeded it is.
Shakespeare's mind
that one would ever find any woman in
that state of mind in the 16th century
was impossible
and now we turn a very important corner
of the road we come to mrs. Aphra Behn a
woman forced by the death of her husband
to earn her living by her wits she had
to work on equal terms with men and by
working very hard she made enough to
live on
not the importance of that fact
outweighs anything that she ever
actually wrote for Aphra Behn proof that
money could be made by writing at the
sacrifice of perhaps a more agreeable
qualities and was of practical
importance and so by degrees writing
became not merely a sign of folly and of
a distracted mind the extreme activity
of mind among women later in the 18th
century meeting the talking the writing
of essays the translation of the
classics was founded on the solid fact
that women could make money by writing
and money dignifies what is frivolous is
unpaid for
and so later in the 18th century a
change came about which if I was
rewriting history I should find a
greater importance than the Crusades or
the Wars of the Roses the middle-class
woman began to write for if Pride and.
Prejudice matters if Middlemarch of.
Wuthering Heights
if banette matter then it matters far
more than I can prove in an hour's
discourse that women generally and not
just the lonely Aleister Pratt took to
writing for without those forerunners.
Jane Austen and the bronty's and George.
Eliot could no more have written than
Shakespeare could have written without.
Marlo or Marla without Chaucer or.
Chaucer without those forgotten poets
who tame the natural savagery of our
tongue for masterpieces are not single
and solitary efforts they are the
outcome of years of thinking in common
so that the experience of the mass is
behind the single voice.
Jane Austen should lay a wreath on the
grave of Fanny Burney and George Eliot
knew homage to the robust shade of an
Isaac Carter that valiant old woman who
tied a belt her bedstead in order that
she might wake early and learn Greek and
women everywhere should let flowers fall
on the tomb of mrs. Aphra Behn which is
scandalously but rather appropriately in.
Westminster Abbey for she it was who
earned them the right to speak their
mind 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 for years
to come the answer was yes by leading
the life of Aphra Behn death would be
better but it is she shady and amorous
though she was makes it not quite
fantastic for me to say two huge night
earn 500 a year by your wits
it is a truth universally acknowledged
that a single man in possession of a
good fortune must be in want for wife
without boasting or giving pain to the
opposite sex one may say that Pride and.
Prejudice is a good book certainly I'm
not alone in saying that I should not
have been ashamed of being caught in the
act of writing Pride and Prejudice but
Jane Austen was glad that a door hinge.
Creek that she might hide her manuscript
if anyone came in to Jane Austen there
was something discreditable in writing.
Pride and Prejudice but the chief
miracle is that there is no sign that
had she not had to hide her manuscript.
Pride and Prejudice would have been a
better book here was a woman about the
year 1800 writing without hatred without
bitterness without fear without
preaching and when people compared as
they rightly do Shakespeare and Jane
Austen they mean that the minds of both
had consumed all impediments for that
reason we do not know Jane Austen and we
do not know Shakespeare for that reason
Jane Austen pervades every word she
wrote and so does Shakespeare
if she suffered in any way from her
circumstances it was in the narrowness
of the life that was imposed upon her
she never traveled she never rode
through London in an omnibus she never
had luncheon in a shop by herself but
perhaps it was the nature of Jane Austen
not to want what should not got but was
that true of Charlotte Bronte the woman
who wrote Jane Eyre had more genius in
her than Jane Austen but she will write
of herself when she should write of her
characters she cannot express her genius
hold an entire she's at war with her lot
how could she help but die young cramped
and forted but play for a moment with
the thought of what might have happened
if Charlotte Bronte had possessed say
300 a year in fact the foolish woman
sewed the copyright of her novels
outright for 1,500 pounds but she knew
no one better how enormous Lee a genius
would have profited if experience in
intercourse and travel had been granted
her they were not granted they were
and I asked you to accept the fact that
all those wonderful novels select Emma
watering Heights Middlemarch
were written by women with no more
experience of life than could enter the
house of a respectable clergyman written
to in the common sitting-room of that
respectable house and by women so poor
but while writing weathering Heights.
Emilie promptly could only afford a few
choirs of writing papers a time as well
naturally as cooking and ironing for the
family and both kneading and baking the
bread what genius
what integrity Emily Bronte must have
needed in the face of all that
opposition in the midst of that purely
patriarchal society to hold fast the
thing without shrinking only she and
Jane Austen did it perhaps that was the
finest feather in their caps they wrote
as women right not as men right there
alone ignored the perpetual admonitions
of the eternal pedagogue to think this
right that there learn with death to
that persistent voice not rumbling now
domineering now grieve not shocked not
angry now avuncular that voice which
cannot let women alone this must be at
them like a conscientious deafness
assuring them to be refined
even into the politicus and the poetry
criticism of sex admonishing them if
they would be good and when sun shining
prize to keep within certain limits to
acknowledge the limitations of their sex
I'm not going to stir those old fools
but it would have needed a very store
word young woman in 1828 too ignored all
those snubs and chidings and promises of
prizes huh what a firebrand she would
need to be to say oh but you can't buy
literature too
literature is open to everybody now I
refuse to allow you Beadle there you are
to turn me off the grass lock up your
libraries if you like there is no gate
no lock no bolt that you can set upon
the freedom of my mind
but perhaps to think as I have been
thinking of one sex as distinct from the
other is a method
it is fatal for anyone to be a man or
woman pure and simple one must be woman
manly or man womanly it is especially
fatal for any woman to lay the least
stress on any grievance to plead even
with justice and he calls to speak in
any way consciously as a woman and fatal
is not just a mere figure of speech for
anything written with that conscious
bias is doomed to death it ceases to be
fertilized brilliant and effective
powerful and masterly it may appear for
a day or two it must wither at night for
it cannot grow in the minds of others
some collaboration has to take place in
the mind between the man and the woman
for the art of creation to be
accomplished some marriage of opposites
has to be consummated
there must be freedom there must be
peace not a Wilms great what-a-light
glimmer the curtain should be glue
and when his experience is over the
writer should lie back and let his mind
celebrate its nuptials in darkness
here I should stop but the pressure of
convention degrees that I should end
with a pet eration
when I rummaged about in my mind I can
find no noble sentiments about being
companions and equals and influencing
the world higher ends all I find myself
saying simply and prosaically is that it
is more important much more to be
yourselves 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
women are hard on women women dislike
women but I often like women I like
their unconventionality I like that
anonymity what I particularly like about
women but are you not sick to death of
the word I can assure you I am so let me
adopt a sterner term young women please
attend the peroration is beginning
you are in my opinion disgracefully
ignorant you have never made the
discovery of any sort of importance
you've never shaken an empire you have
never led an army into battle the plays
of Shakespeare and the symphonies of
Beethoven are not by you nor have you
introduced the blessings of civilization
to a barbarous race what is your excuse
it's 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 colored inhabitants
all busily engaged in traffic and
enterprise and lovemaking we have had
other work on our hands I told you
before Shakespeare had a sister she died
young alas she never wrote a word she
lies buried at the crossroads where the.
Omnibus has not stopped outside the.
Elephant and Castle now it is my belief
that this poet who never read a word and
lies buried of the crossroads still
she lives in you and she lives in me and
in many other woman's were not here
tonight because they're washing up the
dishes of 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
now I think that opportunity is now
coming within your power to give her for
it is my belief that if we live another
century or so and I'm talking about the
common life the real life not the little
separate lives we live as individuals if
we 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 only in
relation to each other but in relation
to reality the sky the trees whatever it
may be if we look past Milton's dirty
for no human being should shut out the
view if we face the fact for which is a
fact that there is no arm to cling to
and there we go alone and that a
relationship is to the world of reality
and not only to the world of men and
women that opportunity will come
and Shakespeare's dead sister will take
up the body
she is so often lay down throwing her
life from the lives of the unknown who
will have foreigners like her brother
before her she will be born
now as for her coming without that
preparation without that method without
that determination that when she is born
again it would be possible for her to
live and write her poetry that we cannot
well that is impossible but I maintain
she will come if we work for her
and that to achieve that end even in
poverty and obscurity is worthwhile
he's open to everybody
I refuse to allow you beetle though you
are to turn me off the grass look up
your libraries if you like there is no
gate no knock no boat that you can set
upon the freedom of my mind