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Women and Fiction = A Room of One's Own


Woolf, Virginia; author
Winther, Annie; binder (person)


autograph manuscript




1929-03-06 1929-04-02


134 leaves - unlined paper with holes punched in inner margin. Originally loose sheets of paper of two different sizes, the pages were conserved and bound into one volume by Annie Winther in 1996. Spine covered in dark brown goatskin with boards covered in Cockerell marbled paper.


height, 27, cm
width, 21.5, cm


given; 1942; Woolf, Leonard


In October 1928, Virginia Woolf spoke on ‘Women and Fiction’ to the Arts Society at Newnham and the ODTAA (One Damn Thing After Another) Society at Girton, then the only two women’s Colleges of Cambridge University. This autograph manuscript, written by Woolf in purple ink, is her expansion and redrafting of those lectures into the text she published as A Room of One’s Own. It is headed: ‘Based on a paper read to the Arts Society at Newnham & the Odtaa at Girton, October 1928. The paper proved too long to be read in full; & the parts then omitted have been restored with some alterations’. Twenty pages from chapter 3 are preserved separately in the Monks House Papers at the University of Sussex.
The manuscript was given to the Fitzwilliam Museum by Leonard Woolf in 1942, the year after Virginia Woolf’s death. It is recorded in the Museum’s annual report for 1942, but its significance as the working draft for A Room of One’s Own was not recognised by scholars until the 1990s, when a full transcription was published by S.P. Rosenbaum (1992). Rosenbaum’s extensive introduction gives details of Woolf’s visits to Cambridge, and traces the evolution of the text from lectures to final published version.
The manuscript is divided into five chapters and a conclusion, and shows Woolf working at a furious pace, starting and restarting sentences, crossing out, adding revisions and new ideas between the lines, in the margins, and on the blank pages. She wrote it so quickly that when she came to prepare a typescript for the publisher, she found it hard to decipher, noting in her diary that, ‘I used to make it up at such a rate that when I got pen & paper I was like a water bottle turned upside down. The writing was as quick as my hand could write; too quick, for I am now toiling to revise; but this way gives one freedom & lets one leap from back to back of one’s thoughts’ (Diary of Virginia Woolf, ed. A. Oliver Bell, vol. 3 (1980), pp. 221-22). Woolf worked on the manuscript in March and April 1929, and A Room of One’s Own was published by The Hogarth Press (London) and by Harcourt, Brace & Co. (New York) in October of the same year.



Rosenbaum, S. P.. 1992. Virginia Woolf; Women & Fiction; the manuscript version of A Room of One's Own; transcribed and edited by S. P. Rosenbaum.Oxford: Shakespeare Head Press

Related Object:

FM/70/11/3/Woolf/1; Leonard Woolf to Louis Clarke: letter


Object Number: MS 1-1942
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 187632; input: 2012-05-31; modified: 2018-08-17)