There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
Virginia Woolf’s extended essay “A Room of One’s Own” is one of the seminal texts of feminist literature. The essay explored a range of themes, from gender inequality and the subjectivity of truth, to the nature of creativity and the need for financial independence. The essay’s title derives from this latter point, asserting that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Woolf praised Jane Austen and Emily Brontë, who each had the strength and freedom of mind to ignore the pressures of criticism in a patriarchal society, and produced truly authentic literature. These two authors, Woolf explained, were unshrinking in their genius and integrity. “They wrote as women write, not as men write,” Woolf observed — which, especially in their time, was a brave act of creative defiance.