Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A Room of One's Own

Eighty years ago, on October 24th 1929, this book by Virginia Woolf was published. This copy of "A Room of One's Own" is one of my most treasured possessions. Old and tatty, but incredibly hard to find, it has sat on our shelves for many years now and will continue to do so, I hope. for many more. I wonder if Virginia Woolf, all those years ago, had any idea that the book she was writing would become so iconic? Would mean so much to so many people. If you haven't read the book , you know the title and all that it implies.

Reading all our blogs we all want our own space, workspace don't we. I've seen beautiful studios and workrooms that I've drooled over. I'm still to possess a room of my very own in which to sit and think and do. I share my room with my family. In my mind I have my room planned out, decorated, redecorated and furnished.... But I do have my own space really, my own "room". Maybe not a physical room, but the opportunity to do what I want, which is what I think the book is all about, having the chance to gain the independence and space that I want, something that was so lacking for women all those years ago.

Last week I listened to this wonderful piece of radio. If you get the chance listen to it, it's good. Very good. I listened intently to the piece about Virginia Woolf's home at Monks House. You may know that I love this place. I've written about it here before. Caroline Zoob, the incredibly lucky and talented Caroline Zoob, lives above Monk's House and was interviewed for the programme. She talked of Virginia Woolf's rooms of her own - her beautiful work room in the garden.

A room that was built for her, beautiful in its simplicity. Removed from the house, sitting in the middle of their gorgeous garden, she would walk here to her work and write her books. Simple and undistracting, I just love it.

Interestingly enough the other room in which she worked was her bedroom which is also physically separated from the main house, having to be accessed via a separate doorway. This is another beautiful, calm room that is simple and without too many distractions.

I listened enthralled as Caroline Zoob talked of regularly changing the flowers in the summerhouse where Virginia Woolf once sat and wrote her books. Sometimes you listen to something or read something and feel utterly transported and for a few minutes last week that happened to me.


texasdaisey said...

What a pretty room.

cocoa and blankets said...

i am so jealous...it would be so lovely to have a room like that, I moved out of our shared study because P is so messy...so I have taken over one of the spare rooms...handy for the loo!

dottycookie said...

I listened to the same piece. It certainly left an impression on me.

Lucy Locket-Pocket said...

Wow. You have written such a beautiful post that I don't know quite how to respond because my comment will just sound crass and clumsy in comparison!

I'm really lucky because we converted half of the garage into a sewing room this summer and I love it - it's bright and bold and not in the slightest bit serene and beautiful like Virginia Woolf's but it's mine and I love it!

Lucy x

A Thrifty Mrs said...

Virginia Woolfe is one of my favourite writers, I would love to visit the rooms that must have so inspired her.
Your post is beautiful.

silverpebble said...

I heard that piece advertised and missed it - thankyou so much for the link Kim. I am ashamed to admit that A room of one's own has been on my personal reading list for many years but I have not yet read it. I am about to remedy that. My youngest's room will become my workroom next summer when she becomes old enough for the bottom bunk. It is miniscule - more of a boxroom but the thought is so inspiring, so exciting that I feel giddy at the thought of the warmer weather coming. I can hardly wait. I think you've inspired a future blogpost for me.

A Bun Can Dance said...

Thanks for a thought provoking post, Kim. I didn't hear the radio programme but will play it after this blog visit. Your copy of VW's book is beautiful. I bet it has a lovely 'old book' smell and soft well-thumbed pages. I read the book as a student and though having a space of my own was desirable at the time, I'm sure I would appreciate the fullness of the book's message much more now. I shall have to hunt out my old penguin copy... Though, I am very fortunate to have both the time space and physical space to do what I please, which I am always grateful for.
So now I am off to listen to the programme.... I had no idea lovely Caroline Zoob lived there!
Denise x

Thimbleanna said...

Thank you for posting this Kim! When my parents and I visited England, we went to several literary spots, but not this one. I know my mother would love it, so I'll put it on the list for next time!

MelMel said...


Her NT home is so beauitful!
My friend Jenny was lucky enough to go to her house and meet her the other day!
How fab is that?
I'd have been so tongue tied!

Jenny makes curtains and blinds, so think that was why she was there....


Josie said...

I've loved that book since I first read it at University,and I dream of the day I have a room of my own, with nothing but my own identity in it, and where I can work away to my hearts content.

Pipany said...

I missed it having planned to listen. I was so cross and haven't managed to find it on the Iplay thingy. I have read the book though Kim . Wish my 'room of one's own' was one to be drooled over, but I fear the most enormous clean up is needed! x

Lisa said...

I have a huge pile of ironing (again!) so listening to a good radio programme whilst working through it will be help. Isn't the Iplayer just fab.
Lisa x

Tracy said...

That was wonderful listening... thanks for the link, Kim. :o) V. Woolf has long been a favorite of mine, and especially "A Room of One's Own"...thanks for this lovely post. ((HUGS))

Ticking stripes said...

Rodmell - one of my favourite places. Love the way VW decorated and her very personal style. I bought a calendar with each month being one of her book jackets which I saved years ago - I must get it out. Hadn't heard the radio piece so thank you - I'll pick that up.

Cowboys and Custard said...

We both seem to hanker after that same special place.. a space to make our own .. a space to just be and think and ponder without interruption or compromise.
One day your room will come Milly.. and mine too..until then..it's back to the kitchen table.


Bobo Bun said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. I don't have a physical room of my own either, but create amongst my family and all the mess and noise that is going on. As you said, the distinction for Woolf was for women to have personal choice and freedoms.

Your edition is truly stunning. No wonder you treasure it.

Lisa x

Valerie said...

Love Virginia Woolf, but my special fave has to be 'Mrs Dalloway', in particular the opening pages as Clarissa takes a walk on the morning of her party. The writing is stunning.

Such a pretty blog.

busybusybeejay said...

I caught this programme too and would so love a room of my own.The trouble is we live in a bungalow which means nothing is private.However we have just had a fourth bedroom put in the loft area( via a proper staircase)and so I suggested to hubby that I might claim it as my den.watch this space!

Garden Girl said...

I shall listen later- and thankyou for yet another book recommendation (at least I've heard of this one, unlike Capture the Castle, which I have just re-read for the second time!)
Hope you're well xxx

Heidi said...

I have never read anything by Virginia Woolf. Now you have me so intrigued. I am off to listen to the radio link. I just got my Persephone catalog and biannually in the post. I must see if they have this book in their collection?

I love this idea of having a separate place to go to and be creative. I have seen her place before and it is wonderful.

What a joy to have such a beautiful old copy of this book.

Hugs ~

Rowan said...

I confess that I have never read any of Virginia Woolf's books but I know the titles well. A Room of One's Own' strikes a real chord with me and now that my children are grown up I do have my own space. I've always had mental space though and I think that is what is really important. One day I intend to go to East Sussex and visit both Monks House and Charleston Farmhouse - that's a long held ambition for me. I'm sure I've mentioned it before:)