Virginia Woolf understood the intellectual and practical value of the female academy. She believed that women needed a place to think and write in order to develop their creative potential so they could take a full and independent role in their societies.
Virgina Woolf (1882 - 1941)
By 1928 when Woolf gave her lectures on 'Women and Fiction' at two women's colleges in Cambridge, the female academy had been a reality for 79 years. Woolf's book A Room of One's Own grew out of these talks. Although resentful at never receiving a university education herself, Woolf understood the value of the female academy. She believed that women needed a place to think and write in order to develop their creative potential so they could take a full and independent role in their societies: 'A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write'.
A Room of One's Own was an attempt to construct a female tradition that acknowledged the unnoticed contribution of women to society and their untapped potential. Women should 'rewrite history', by creating a separate story of women's development.
In 1928 it seemed unlikely that Woolf's lecture would be of far-reaching significance. As Muriel Bradbrook noted years after attending Woolf's talk, 'we undergraduates enjoyed Mrs Woolf, but we felt that her Cambridge was not ours.' In fact, this was a statement with more truth in it than Bradbrook knew; Woolf was never assimilated into university life and rejected all academic honours, even if A Room of One's Own would be forever associated with women's creativity and with the early progress of the female academy.