If Shakespeare had had a sister as talented as he, how would she have fared? What opposition did Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters have to overcome? In October 1928, Virginia Woolf gave two lectures at Britain's first women's college at Cambridge University. Did they realize, Woolf asked her audience, that they were perhaps "the most frequently dealt with animal in the universe"? After all, literature about women was written almost exclusively by men. Woolf's lectures resulted in the essay A Room to Herself, which she published a year later. Praised even during Woolf's lifetime, her treatise on women and literature became one of the seminal texts of the women's movement. Engaging, poetic, experiential, and ironic, Woolf analyzes gender differences and elaborates on what women need to produce great literature: financial, but above all intellectual independence, symbolized in Victorian England by a room of their own.