The City of Ladies

Investigating female presence in the art world.

On Art and Aesthetics

A Room of One’s Own (1929) by Virginia Woolf (1989, Mariner Books)

In a landmark 1929 essay on the role of women in society, English author Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) remarked that literary creativity ultimately depended neither on genius nor inspiration but quite simply on “a room of one’s own.” For her, authors could not produce anything of value if they did not have a place or space to which they could withdraw themselves; they needed to cut themselves off from the cares and duties of daily existence. This was the reason why, particularly prior to 1700, women hardly made it to the canon of famous authors. Financially dependent on men and exclusive bearers of household responsibilities, they could not practise and participate in the solitude upon which the production of art is so contingent. Moreover, unlike male authors who had plenty of literary forefathers, females could not derive inspiration and…

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