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Hirante Welandawe on A Room of One’s Own
17 March, 2021
A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay published first in 1929, based on the lectures Woolf delivered at two women’s colleges at Cambridge University. Woolf’s writing is about the women’s struggle for independence and creative opportunity and is a landmark in feminist writing.
At the commencement of the essay Woolf narrates how she set off to write this essay and her walk through the college deep in thought; in her description of the journey she alludes to the boundaries that limit us; she walks on the campus lawn and is immediately called up by a guard. Woolf says ‘he was a Beadle, I was a woman. This was the turf, there was the path’. Only Fellows and scholars were allowed on the lawn. In the process of being called off the turf Woolf loses her trend of thought. Her description of boundaries resonates with my experiences as a female growing up in a conservative family from the south of Sri Lanka; I was constantly encountering boundaries which I had to adhere to and to which my male cousins were not subjected to. I realised quite early in life that higher education was not a choice but a necessary way of escape.
A Room of One’s Own is important not only for its critique of the patriarchy of the time but also for its passionate assertion of women’s creative originality.