A Room of One's Own | Study Guide

Virginia Woolf

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A Room of One's Own | Key Figures

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Key Figure Description
Mary Beton Mary Beton is the fictional character who narrates most of the essay. Read More
Mary Carmichael Mary Carmichael is the fictional female author of a mediocre novel. Read More
Judith Shakespeare Judith Shakespeare is William Shakespeare's fictional sister. Read More
Mary Seton Mary Seton is Mary Beton's fictional friend. Read More
Matthew Arnold English writer Matthew Arnold (1822–88) was the chair of poetry at Oxford.
John Aubrey John Aubrey (1626–97) wrote a book of biographies called Brief Lives.
Jane Austen Jane Austen (1775–1817) is one of England's most famous novelists, especially famous for her novels Pride and Prejudice and Emma.
Joanna Baillie Scottish writer Joanna Baillie (1762–1851) wrote poems and plays and is thought to have influenced later Gothic and horror writers.
Honoré de Balzac French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) wrote La Comédie Humaine and Eugénie Grandet.
Max Beerbohm English essayist and author Max Beerbohm (1872–1956) was known for his satirical writing.
Aphra Behn English playwright and poet Aphra Behn (c. 1640–89) wrote the poems, "A Thousand Martyrs" and "Love Armed," in which appears the line "Love in Fantastic Triumph sat."
Currer Bell Currer Bell was the pen name of Charlotte Brontë, who—along with her sisters—took a pen name ending in "Bell."
Gertrude Bell English writer and archaeologist Gertrude Bell (1868–1926) wrote Palace and Mosque at Ukhaidir and The Arab of Mesopotamia.
Lady Bessborough Lady Bessborough (1761–1821), Henrietta Frances Spencer, had several extramarital affairs including one with Lord Granville Leveson-Gower.
Lord Birkenhead Lord Birkenhead (1872–1930), also known as Frederick Edwin Smith, Earl of Birkenhead, was a lawyer and politician.
Sir Chartres Biron Sir Chartres Biron was in charge of an obscenity trial involving Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness.
Sir Archibald Bodkin Sir Archibald Bodkin (1862–1957) helped to ban Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness.
Napoleon Bonaparte French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) became emperor of France in 1804.
Anne Brontë Like her two sisters, Anne Brontë (1820–49) was an English novelist. She wrote Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. She wrote under the pen name Acton Bell.
Charlotte Brontë Like her two sisters, Charlotte Brontë (1816–55) was an English novelist. She wrote the novel Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell.
Emily Brontë Like her two sisters, Emily Brontë (1818–48) was an English novelist. She wrote the novel Wuthering Heights. Her pen name was Ellis Bell.
Thomas Browne Writer Sir Thomas Browne (1605–82) wrote on religious, medical, and scientific topics.
Oscar Browning Writer Oscar Browning (1837–1923) was a fellow of King's College, Cambridge and was interested in education reform.
Robert Browning Victorian poet and playwright Robert Browning (1812–89) was married to poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Jean de La Bruyère French essayist Jean de La Bruyère (1645–96) was well known for his essay "Caractères."
Sir Egerton Brydges Member of Parliament Samuel Egerton Brydges (1762–1837) was also a genealogist and writer.
Frances Burney Englishwoman Frances (Fanny) Burney (1752–1840), also known as Madame d'Arblay, was an early female novelist.
Robert Burns Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759–96) often wrote his poems in the Scots language, and is known for the poem "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose."
Samuel Butler English novelist, essayist, and critic Samuel Butler (1835–1902) wrote The Way of All Flesh.
Duke of Cambridge A statue of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge (1819–1904), riding his horse sits at Whitehall, London.
Thomas Carlyle Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) wrote The French Revolution: A History.
Eliza Carter English poet and scholar Eliza (Elizabeth) Carter (1717–1806) was versed in classic literature and linguistics.
Sir Austen Chamberlain English politician Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (1863–1937) won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1925.
Geoffrey Chaucer English writer and poet Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) wrote The Canterbury Tales.
John Clare English poet John Clare (1793–1864) wrote about rural life in collections such as Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery.
Cleopatra Cleopatra (c. 69–30 BCE) was the ruler of Egypt at the time of Julius Caesar, and her relationship with Marc Antony is the subject of Shakespeare's play Antony and Cleopatra.
Anne Jemima Clough Anne Jemima Clough (1820–92) was a leader in the movement for women's suffrage and education.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge English Romantic poet and literary critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan.
Emily Davies Emily Davies (1830–1921) was a founder of Girton College, Cambridge, one of the women's colleges at which Woolf was first invited to lecture.
Charles Dickens Victorian-era writer Charles Dickens (1812–70) wrote many novels and stories including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, and Great Expectations.
John Donne English poet and priest John Donne (1572–1631) lived during the time of Shakespeare and was known for his religious poetry.
Lady Dudley Lady Dudley, named Georgina Elizabeth Ward (1846–1929), was a countess known for her beauty.
Lord Dudley Lord Dudley, named William Ward (1817–85), was the Earl of Dudley.
George Eliot George Eliot was the pen name of English novelist Mary Ann Evans (1819–80).
Edward FitzGerald English writer and translator Edward FitzGerald (1809–83) is known for his translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.
Gustave Flaubert French novelist Gustave Flaubert (1821–80) wrote Madame Bovary, a novel considered by many to be immoral.
James George Frazer Social anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941) wrote the well-known The Golden Bough.
John Galsworthy Novelist and playwright John Galsworthy (1867–1933) won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932 and wrote The Forsyte Saga.
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810–65) was an English novelist.
John Gay English poet, satirist, and author John Gay (1685–1732) wrote Trivia: or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London.
Edward Gibbon English historian Edward Gibbon (1737–94) wrote the six-volume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) wrote philosophical and scientific works as well as plays, poems, and novels, among them the play Faust.
Lady Granville Leveson-Gower Lady Granville Leveson-Gower (1785–1862) was the wife of Lord Granville Leveson-Gower and a prolific letter-writer.
Cecil Gray Cecil Gray (1895–1951) was a Scottish composer and music critic.
William Rathbone Greg Essayist William Rathbone Greg (1809–81) wrote on political and social topics.
Jane Ellen Harrison Feminist Jane Ellen Harrison (1850–1928) was a classical scholar who authored books on Greek archaeology.
Horace Roman poet Horace (65–8 BCE) wrote Satires and the Ars poetica.
Lucy Hutchinson Lucy Hutchinson (1620–81) wrote Memoirs Of The Life of Colonel Hutchinson.
Henrik Ibsen Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) wrote Peer Gynt and Hedda Gabler.
Indignant Man A fictional indignant man at Oxbridge shoos Mary Beton off the turf and onto the path.
Dean Inge Anglican priest William Ralph Inge (1860–1954) was a professor, author, and dean of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Dr. Samuel Johnson English writer Samuel Johnson (1709–84) wrote poems, essays, literary criticism, biographies, and dictionaries.
Ben Jonson English playwright, poet, and actor Ben Jonson (1572–1637) lived during Shakespeare's time.
Sir William Joynson-Hicks English politician Sir William (Jix) Joynson-Hicks (1865–1932) helped ban Radclyffe Hall's novel The Well of Loneliness.
Juvenal Roman poet Juvenal, or Decimus Junius Juvenalis (c. 60–c. 127 CE), is the presumed author of a set of poems known as the Satires.
John Keats English writer John Keats (1795–1821) was a Romantic poet known for the poem "Ode on a Grecian Urn."
Kindly Gentleman A fictional kindly gentleman tells Mary Beton she cannot enter the Oxbridge library unaccompanied.
Rudyard Kipling Author Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) famously wrote The Jungle Book and Just So Stories.
Charles Lamb English writer Charles Lamb (1775–1834) was an essayist who collaborated with his sister Mary on a retelling of Shakespeare's plays.
Walter Savage Landor English poet and author Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864) wrote a volume of dialogues called Imaginary Conversations.
John Eric Langdon-Davies Journalist and author John Eric Langdon-Davies (1897–1971) wrote about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War as well as A Short History of Women.
Sir Sidney Lee Biographer and literary critic Sir Sidney Lee (1859–1926) wrote the biography Life of William Shakespeare.
Vernon Lee English writer Violet Paget (1856–1935) used the pen name Vernon Lee and wrote books on aesthetics, including The Beautiful: An Introduction to Psychological Aesthetics and The Poet's Eye.
Christopher Marlowe English playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe (1564–93) lived during Shakespeare's time and is known for his Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.
Mrs. Martin Mrs. Martin represents the more realistic Englishwoman—"aged thirty-six, dressed in blue, wearing a black hat and brown shoes"—as a contrast to the more glamorous version of women found in fiction.
John Stuart Mill English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill (1806–73) co-wrote the essay The Subjection of Women with his wife Harriet.
John Milton English poet John Milton (1608–74) is best known for his epic poem "Paradise Lost."
Mary Russell Mitford English novelist Mary Russell Mitford (1787–1855) wrote a five-volume work of fiction entitled Our Village.
William Morris English poet and artist William Morris (1834–96) helped establish the Arts and Crafts movement.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91) wrote the well-known Requiem in D minor and several operas, including The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.
John Middleton Murry English writer and literary critic John Middleton Murry (1889–1957) was married to writer Katherine Mansfield.
Benito Mussolini Italian politician and fascist leader Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) became prime minister of Italy in 1922.
Margaret of Newcastle English writer Margaret of Newcastle, or Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1623–73), published her writings under her own name instead of a pen name.
John Henry Newman Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801–90) was a poet and writer known for his theological works.
Florence Nightingale Although English nurse Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) famously transformed nursing, she also wrote on other topics such as the role of women.
Dorothy Osborne Dorothy Osborne, also called Lady Temple, (1627–95) wrote letters to her future husband, Sir William Temple, which were later published.
Ovid Roman poet Ovid (43 BCE–17 CE) wrote Metamorphoses and Ars amatoria.
Edgar Allan Poe American writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809–49) wrote fiction and poems filled with suspense and horror.
Alexander Pope Alexander Pope (1688–1744) was a poet and satirist famous for The Rape of the Lock.
Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch Writer and literary critic Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (1863–1944) edited the Oxford Book of English Verse and wrote The Art of Writing, quoted in Woolf's essay.
Thomas de Quincey English essayist Thomas de Quincey (1785–1859) wrote Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.
Jean Racine Playwright Jean Racine (1639–99) was a French author known for writing tragedies.
Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh English essayist and literary critic Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861–1922) was chair of English Literature at Oxford University.
George Romney English portrait painter George Romney (1734–1802) was known for his portraits of aristocratic and famous persons.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti English poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–82) was a painter and a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Christina Rossetti English poet Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–94)—sister to Dante Gabriel Rossetti—often wrote romantic and religious poetry.
Jean Jacques Rousseau Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) popularized the idea of the "noble savage."
John Ruskin English writer John Ruskin (1819–1900) wrote about his interest in art in his volume Modern Painters.
George Sand George Sand was the pen name of French novelist Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dudevant (1804–76).
Sappho Sappho (c. 610–c. 570 BCE) was an ancient Greek poet of the Island of Lesbos.
William Shakespeare English actor and writer William Shakespeare (1564–1616) is one of the most famous playwrights and poets in history.
Percy Bysshe Shelley Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) was an English Romantic poet.
Murasaki Shikibu Murasaki Shikibu (c.978–c.1014) was the pen name of a female Japanese novelist and poet who wrote Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji).
Laurence Sterne Anglican priest Laurence Sterne (1713–68) was a novelist who wrote The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.
August Strindberg Swedish playwright and poet August Strindberg (1849–1912) wrote the play Miss Julie.
Student An unshaven fictional student in Chapter 2 studiously takes notes next to Mary Beton in the British Museum.
Germaine Tailleferre French composer Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983) was the only female member of Les Six, a group of composers that also included Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, and Louis Durey.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–92) was poet laureate for much of Queen Victoria's reign and is well known for The Lady of Shalott.
William Thackeray English author William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–63) wrote satirical novels.
James Thomson Scottish poet and playwright James Thomson (1700–48) wrote The Seasons and the lyrics to "Rule Britannia."
Hester Lynch Thrale Author Hester Lynch Thrale (1741–1821) was known as a patron of the arts and was friends with Dr. Samuel Johnson.
Leo Tolstoy Russian writer Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) wrote the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina.
George Macaulay Trevelyan English historian George Macaulay Trevelyan (1876–1962) wrote History of England.
Frances Parthenope Verney Florence Nightingale's sister Frances Parthenope Verney (1819–90) wrote Memoirs of the Verney Family during the 17th century.
Virgil Roman poet Virgil (70 BCE–19 CE) wrote the epic poem Aeneid.
John Webster English playwright John Webster (c.1580–c.1632) lived during the time of Shakespeare.
Rebecca West Rebecca West (1892–1983) was the pen name of feminist and author Cicily Isabel Fairfield.
Lady Winchilsea English poet Lady Winchilsea (1661–1720) was a countess and one the first female poets to publish in England.
Professor von X Professor von X is a fictional author and professor created by Woolf to represent male authors in general, especially those who write about the various ways women are inferior.
Z Z is a fictional man whom Mary Beton calls the "most humane, most modest of men," but who calls Rebecca West an "arrant feminist."
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