Commentaries on the Exhibit’s Works




Download Commentary (175 KB)


A brief commentary prepared by Sheila Hassell Hughes, PhD, Professor, English, on the following work:

Virginia Woolf
A Room of One's Own
1929; first trade edition; presentation copy


The extended essay that became A Room of One’s Own began as a pair of invited lectures at Girton and Newnham, the women’s colleges of Cambridge University, in 1928. In answering the question of why no women writers have equaled Shakespeare, Woolf surmises what would have become of a female born with Shakespeare’s genius in his day: “Judith Shakespeare,” as Woolf christened Shakespeare’s invented sister, would have died young, poor, and pregnant.

In the title essay, Woolf makes her famous argument that to write successfully, any woman of talent needs “500 pounds and a room of her own”—that is, income to support herself and space away from domestic duties and social expectations.

This copy is interesting for its provenance: Woolf inscribed it to Helen Anrep, patron of the arts and wife of the former paramour of Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell, who created the cover art.

Permission Statement

This item and all others in the Imprints and Impressions collection are licensed for research, educational and private use. Proper attribution must be used when downloading or reproducing this content. If you wish to use the materials for other purposes, please contact University of Dayton Libraries to obtain permission: 937-229-4221.

Streaming Media

Contents of Streaming Media

Sheila Hassell Hughes, professor of English, reads a selection.

Woolf: ‘A Room of One's Own’


View Images