Page 101. " Every Johnson has his Thrale "

Hester Lynch Thrale (1741-1821) was an author, diarist, and artistic patron, who was a personal friend of Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Page 103. " the battle of Balaclava "
'Charge of the Light Brigade' by Woodville
Public Domain'Charge of the Light Brigade' by Woodville - Credit: Richard Caton Woodville (1825-1855)

 Balaclava was one of the battles of the Crimean War, fought in 1854.

One of the disastrous charges of the battle of Balaclava known as the 'Charge of the Light Brigade' is the subject of Tennyson's poem of the same name.

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

Full text


Page 105. " Keats and his use of Miltonic inversion "

Miltonic inversion is the term used to describe Milton's tendency to reverse the natural order of words and phrases in his poetry.

There are two examples in the lines, Ten paces huge/He back recoiled. (Paradise Lost vi. 193/4).

John Keats by Brown
Public DomainJohn Keats by Brown - Credit: Charles Brown

Keats also used this device but was apparently not completely happy with it. Writing in a letter to his friend John Hamilton Reynolds about his unfinished work Hyperion, he said, 'I have given up Hyperion - there were too many Miltonic inversions in it'.

There are two examples of inversion in the following line from Hyperion (Book 1: 108), 'Of influence benign on planets pale'.


Page 105. " the comments of Juvenal "
Illustration for Juvenal's 'Satires'
Public DomainIllustration for Juvenal's 'Satires' - Credit: Wenzel Hollar (1607-1677)

Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, or Juvenal, was a Roman poet who lived during the late first, and early second century A.D.

He is believed to be the author of a collection of 16 poems which are known by the collective name the Satires.

Page 105. " by the criticism of Strindberg "
August Strindberg

August Strindberg (18489-1912) was a Swedish dramatist, essayist, and poet.

His plays include Miss Julie (1888); The Dream Play (1902); and The Ghost Sonata (1907).


Page 105. " Mr Woodhouse and Mr Casaubon "

These two examples of flawed male characters created by female authors are, presumably, Mr Henry Woodhouse, father to Emma in Jane Austen's novel of that name, who is excessively concerned about his own and other people's health; and The Rev. Edward Casaubon, unlovely husband to Dorothea in George Eliot's Middlemarch, who is hopelessly obsessed with his very bad and never finished book, The Key to All Mythologies.

Page 113. " Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous "
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Public DomainSamuel Taylor Coleridge - Credit: unknown

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was a poet, critic, and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was one of the founders of the Romantic movement.

Among his best known works are The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan.

The quote about the 'androgynous* mind' appears in Specimens of the Table Talk of S.T. Coleridge (1835) by Henry N. Coleridge. The exact quote reads,  'a great mind must be androgynous'.

*possessing both male and female qualities


Page 117. " Miss Clough and Miss Davies "
First women to graduate, Edinburgh University (1870/75)
Public DomainFirst women to graduate, Edinburgh University (1870/75) - Credit: unknown

Anne Jemima Clough (1820-1892) was a proponent both of women's suffrage and  higher education for women.

She was a friend of Emily Davies and Barbara Bodichon, the founders of Girton College.

Page 118. " rows of books by Mr Galsworthy and Mr Kipling "

John Galsworthy (1867-1933) was a novelist and playwright who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.

Today, he is best remembered for one major work, The Forsyte Saga,  which is a fictitious trilogy of family life written between 1906 and 1921.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was a novelist, short-story writer, children's writer and poet. He was born in British India which provides the backdrop to much of his fiction.

Amongst his best known works are The Jungle Book (1894); Kim (1901) and The Just So Stories (1902).

An enormously well-received author in his period, he has retained his place in popular literary culture, although inevitably his works have become the subject of post-colonial criticism.


Page 118. " That picture will fall on old Jolyon's head "

Old Jolyon is the family patriarch in Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga.

Page 119. " take Sir Walter Raleigh's letters, for instance "

Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861-1922) was an English critic and essayist who became the first holder of the chair of English Literature at Oxford University, with a fellowship at Magdalen College.

After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Raleigh gave up literary criticism and concentrated on writing about  war-related issues. His book England and the War was published in 1918.

Following his death, a collection of his letters (edited by his wife) appeared in 1926, under the title The Letters of Sir Walter Raleigh (1879-1922).

This Sir Walter Raleigh, of course, is not to be confused with his namesake, the Elizabethan colonizer and courtier, famous for introducing tobacco to Europe.

Page 119. " there is a certain anxiety about fiction in Italy "
'IL DUCE' mosaic on pavement in Rome
Creative Commons Attribution'IL DUCE' mosaic on pavement in Rome - Credit: Anthony M., Flickr

When A Room of One's Own was published in 1928, Italy was under the control of Benito Mussolini(Il Duce) and his National Fascist Party.

One aspect of the regime was the attempt to censor any material in the press, the cinema, or literary publications, which was felt to be in opposition to the 'party line'.

In the literary field, there was suppression of the work of foreign authors (such as Erich Maria Remarque); Italian authors in exile (such as Gaetano Salvemini); and Italian authors living in Italy (such as Alberto Moravia). 

Page 120. " Shelley perhaps was sexless "
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1819)
Public DomainPercy Bysshe Shelley (1819) - Credit: Amelia Curran (1775-1847)

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) ranks alongside Wordsworth, Keats and Byron as one of the major English Romantic poets.

At this point in the text, the narrator is categorising writers in terms of their  'male', 'female' or 'androgynous' qualities. Shelley is seen as not belonging to any of these categories, but as being, 'perhaps sexless'.

The meaning of this phrase is, of course, open to interpretation.

Page 121. " Here, then, Mary Beton ceases to speak "
Virginia Woolf/Oil on canvas/Christiaan Tonnis (1998)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeVirginia Woolf/Oil on canvas/Christiaan Tonnis (1998) - Credit: Christiaan Tonnis, Flickr

Here Virginia Woolf reminds us that at this point she is moving from speaking in the voice of the narrator to speaking in her own voice. 

She also takes the opportunity to reiterate the central message in A Room of One's Own that a female writer needs financial independence and privacy if she is to write successfully.

Page 122. " the Table of Precedency which you will find in Whitaker's Almanack "
A page from Whitaker's Almanack (1897)
Public DomainA page from Whitaker's Almanack (1897) - Credit: unknown

Whitaker's Almanack is a reference book (first produced in 1868) which is published on an annual basis.

It contains a section dealing with precedence, the order in which dignitaries should be addressed, seated, acknowledged etc. on official occasions.

Virginia Woolf also refers to 'Whitakers Table of Precedency' in her short story, The Mark on the Wall which was published in 1917 in Publication No. 1: Two Stories (the very first publication of the Hogarth Press).

Page 122. " a Commander of the Bath will ultimately walk in to dinner behind a Master in Lunacy "
Cross of the Order of the Bath, regimental museum, Edinburgh Castle
GNU Free Documentation LicenseCross of the Order of the Bath, regimental museum, Edinburgh Castle - Credit: David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons

Whilst a reader might be forgiven for thinking that at least one of these terms has been made up as a joke, they are both genuine!

Knight Commander of the Bath is an honour that may be bestowed by the British Sovereign on her subjects;

A Master of Lunacy is a legal title for individuals appointed by judges to oversee the management of the affairs of those certified insane. 

Page 123. " Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch "

Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) was a writer, literary critic, and academic who sometimes published under the pseudonym 'Q'. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford where he later became a lecturer.

One of his major achievements was to edit the Oxford Book of English Verse (1250-1900) the first edition of which sold half a million copies.

He is also the subject of a book entitled 'Q''s Legacy  by Helene Hanff (author of 84 Charing Cross Road), in which she documents the influence that Quiller-Couch had on her literary life.

The book The Art of Writing (1916), from which Woolf quotes, consists of a collection of essays given by Quiller-Couch at the University of Cambridge during 1913-14.

Page 124. " Landor "
A book by Walter Savage Landor
Public DomainA book by Walter Savage Landor - Credit: Walter Savage Landor
Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864) was an English poet and writer, best known for his poem Rose Aylmer, and his prose work Imaginary Conversations.

Rose Aylmer was one of the poems chosen  by Quiller-Couch for his Oxford Book of English Verse.

Ah, what avails the sceptred race!

Ah, what the form divine!

What every virtue, every grace!

Rose Aylmer, all were thine.

Full text


Page 124. " Browning, Arnold, Morris, Rossetti "

It is probably taken for granted by Quiller-Couch that this will be read as a reference  to four male English poets, although there are, in fact, female poets with the surnames, Browning and Rossetti (namely,  Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti).

Page 124. " Browning "
Robert Browning by Pen (1882)
Public DomainRobert Browning by Pen (1882) - Credit: Robert Wiedemann Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her son, Pen (1860) - by courtesy of Eton College
Public DomainElizabeth Barrett Browning and her son, Pen (1860) - by courtesy of Eton College - Credit: unknown

Robert Browning (1812-1899) was a well-known Victorian poet, who was also a playwright.

Amongst his best known works are: Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, and The Pied Piper of Hamelin (a poem for children):

Into the street the Piper stept,

Smiling first a little smile

As if he knew what magic slept,

In his quiet pipe the while;

Full text 


He was the husband of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the couples' romance was the subject of a 1934 film entitled The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

Page 124. " Arnold "

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) was an English poet and writer on social and educational matters, who worked as an Inspector of Schools.

He was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford University in 1857, and broke new ground by delivering his lectures in English rather than Latin.

He is best remembered for poems such as The Scholar Gypsy and The Forsaken Merman, both of which appear in The Oxford Book of English Verse.

Page 124. " Morris "


'Strawberry Thief' design by William Morris (1883)
Public Domain'Strawberry Thief' design by William Morris (1883) - Credit: William Morris
Detail from a portrait of William Morris by Watts (1870)
Public DomainDetail from a portrait of William Morris by Watts (1870) - Credit: George Frederic Watts
William Morris (1834-1896) was an English poet, although he is perhaps better known as a textile designer and the founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Extract from Another for the Briar-Rose:

O treacherous scent, O thorny sight,

O tangle of world's wrong and right,

What art thou 'gainst my armour's gleam

but dusky cobwebs of a dream.

Page 124. " Rossetti "
Dante Gabriel Rossetti by Holman Hunt (1853)
Public DomainDante Gabriel Rossetti by Holman Hunt (1853) - Credit: William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was an English poet and translator. He was also a well-known painter and illustrator who was one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The poet Christina Rossetti was his sister.

Christina Rossetti, portrait by her brother
Public DomainChristina Rossetti, portrait by her brother - Credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Extract from A Death-Parting by D.G.R:

Leaves and rain and the days of the year

(Water-willow and wellaway),

All these fall, and my soul gives ear,

And she is hence, who once was here.


Page 124. " Saul or The Ring and the Book "

Saul is a poem by Robert Browning;

The Ring and the Book is a lengthy narrative poem (sometimes described as a 'verse novel') by the same author.


Page 124. " than Ruskin would have attained to writing Modern Painters "
Self portrait by John Ruskin
Public DomainSelf portrait by John Ruskin - Credit: John Ruskin

John Ruskin (1819-1900) was an English art critic, writer on social and cultural affairs, artist, and poet.

His Modern Painters (the first volume of which was published in 1843) was a defence and a celebration of 'modern' painters such as J.M.W. Turner, whose work at that time was generally considered inferior to that of the 'Old Masters'.

Page 124. " Keats: whom Atropos slew young "

Atropos in Greek mythology was one of the Moirae (the goddesses of fate and destiny).

Depiction of Atropos cutting the thread of life
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDepiction of Atropos cutting the thread of life - Credit: Tom Oates, Wikimedia Commons


Page 124. " as she slew John Clare in a mad-house, and James Thomson by the laudanum he took to drug disappointment "
Engraving of John Clare by Scriven (1821)
Public DomainEngraving of John Clare by Scriven (1821) - Credit: Edward Scriven after William Hilton (1786-1839)

John Clare (1793-1864), the son of a farm labourer, was a poet renowned for his poetry about the English countryside.

He suffered from mental health problems and drank heavily. In 1837 he was committed to an asylum where he remained for most of the rest of his life, although he was able to continue with his writing.

Extract from The Badger:

When midnight comes a host of dogs and men

Go out and track the badger to his den,

And put a sack within the hole, and lie

Till the old grunting badger passes by.


James Thomson
Public DomainJames Thomson - Credit: unknown
Laudanum or Tincture of Opium
Public DomainLaudanum or Tincture of Opium - Credit: original uploader: Cyclone, Wikimedia Commons

James Thomson (1700-1748) was a Scottish poet and dramatist.

His best known work is The Seasons, written between 1725 and 1730. He was also the author of the lyrics of Rule Britannia.

Extract from The Seasons (Spring):

Come, gentle Spring, ethereal Mildness, come,

And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud,

While music wakes around, veiled in a shower

Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend.


Thomson was an opium/laudanum addict (laudanum is a mixture of opium and alcohol, and the form in which opium was available in Thomson's time) who had possibly been influenced by the positive picture of opium use painted by de Quincey in his Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

Page 125. " and the European War which opened the doors to the average woman "

The 'European War' referred to by Virginia Woolf is now more commonly known as The First World War or The Great War (1914-1918).

Whilst men were at the front, women took over many jobs which had previously been male preserves.

Government poster (1917) to encourage women to join the Land Army
Public DomainGovernment poster (1917) to encourage women to join the Land Army - Credit: Henry George Gawthorn (1879-1941)