Shakespeare’s Sister By Virginia Woolf Quickwrite

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Shakespeare’s Sister


  • In your opinion, what differences exist between opportunities available to men and those available to women in our society today? Why do you think these differences exist? Write down some of your thoughts.

Virginia Woolf

  • Virginia Woolf was born in Victorian London in an intellectual, financially comfortable family.
  • In her early twenties, Woolf helped form the Bloomsbury Group, an intellectual circle of writers and artists.
  • Woolf had been writing since she was fourteen, but it was not until she was thirty-three that her first novel (The Voyage Out) was published. She became an established and successful novelist with the publication of Jacob’s Room (1922) and Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

More about Virginia Woolf

  • Her writing emphasizes personal impressions over external events and focuses on experiencing life in the moment.
  • She used a technique called stream of consciousness in some of her writing, which is characterized by a flow of thoughts and images, which may not always appear to have a coherent structure or cohesion -- the plot line may weave in and out of time and place.
  • Woolf suffered with depression and anxiety throughout her life which deepened with the German bombing raids over England in WWII, and in March 1941 she took her own life.

A Room of One’s Own

  • A Room of One’s Own is considered a pioneering work of feminist criticism, which aims to expose sexist attitudes in or toward literature and to analyze how gender affects a writer’s subjects, themes, and even style.
  • We will be reading an excerpt called “Shakespeare’s Sister” from Woolf’s collection of essays entitled A Room of One’s Own.

While you’re reading

  • At the top of a sheet of paper, write “Virginia Woolf believes that…” and write the numbers 1-6 below this heading. Then, as you read, list some of the things that Woolf believes (you may discover more than six).
  • Read carefully – some of Woolf’s beliefs may be stated directly while others are only hinted at. When you are finished, write a star next to the belief that you think is most central to the essay.

Essay Prompt

  • Woolf’s essay contains many ideas, both explicit and implicit, about gender roles. In an essay, (a) discuss how Woolf depicts men and women; (b) evaluate the fairness of these depictions; and (c) discuss how true or relevant these depictions are for men and women today.

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