Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own is celebrated as perhaps the most significant work of feminist literary criticism. However, the women at the centre of the text are privileged and white, and Woolf’s inclusion of a silent ‘negress’ undermines claims about the work’s universality. In ‘Room,’ the author takes on Woolf’s ideas about creative women’s need for a private room and explores the rooms and spaces occupied by women from her past including her mother during the Windrush era and her great-great-great grandmother who escaped slavery to live in a cave. The piece is presented using a hybrid form which involves the interweaving of creative and critical elements, devices and genres. It takes as its stylistic starting point black vernacular ‘signifying’ traditions of speaking back, revision and pastiche and engages with feminist arguments which recognise lived experience as a powerful form of knowledge. The work makes an important contribution to present and urgent conversations about decolonising the curriculum.
- Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Mothers, Mary Prince Creativity, Windrush, Black women