This is Virginia Woolf's long essay on the state of women writers in England. She reflects on the work of past authors such as the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen and attempts to explain on what were their artistic decisions based. Woolf's conclusion is that a woman writer needs "a room of her own" and the moderate financial independence that comes with it in order to have the freedom to write about the modern condition.
Some readers see this essay as being elitist because of the financial aspects of her theory. I don't think this is a valid criticism considering that the fact that people needed (and to a certain extent still need today) money to have the time to write is far from controversial.
This essay is not her most ambitious work, but it is worth reading for those who are interested in gender studies.
15 SHE H. Rider Haggard (England 1886)
Haggard is the author of King's Salomon Mines (which I haven't read) and She is another colonial romance of the lost world genre that is set in Africa. The plot focuses on two main male characters, Holly and Leo, who go on an adventure to find and kill the murderer of Leo's ancestors. The murderer turns out to be the most beautiful woman in the world, also known as She-who-must-be -obeyed, who also happens to be immortal and forever young.
She is certainly not a well-written book, but it is an easy read. What makes it interesting however, is its racism, misogyny, and the different sets of (Victorian) dichotomies concerning gender, race, religion and almost everything else under the sun. It also shows a great deal of interest in the science of the time, and especially the rise of Darwinism, both as a scientific theory and as a social theory.
I would recommend this book only to those who are particularly interested in the Victorian age and its ideas, as well as those who study post-colonial theory. Please prepare to be annoyed.