Virginia Woolf

"Shakespeare's Sister" (from A Room of One's Own)

Woolf was a feminist early in this century.  In A Room of One's Own, she examines the reasons women have had trouble becoming artists.  They have had too much to do to be able to channel their energy into creativity.  A woman who wants to be a write must find in the house a room of her own, where no one else comes, and where she can write.

In this excerpt, she considers what would have happened to Shakespeare's sister had she had the talent and ambition he had.  Women were not given the same opportunities as men.  An actual case similar to her fictional one was that of composer Felix Mendelssohn & his big sister Fanny Mendelssohn.  She was as well educated as him, and as talented.  She loved music, but at the age of 15, she got a letter from her father telling to focus on home & family ("women's work") and be content in enjoying the accomplishments of Felix.  She wrote over 400 compositions anyway, which were stored away & forgotten until the last few years.  Her brother, of course, has had his work played continuously.

What does Woolf think would have become of Judith Shakespeare?

How did women's real lives differ from the fiction men wrote about them?