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Shakespeare’s Sister Revisited: A Circle of Female Lineage by Mary Sharratt

Inspiring and well written by Mary Sharrat

Vanessa Bell’s painting of her sister, Virginia Woolf

What do groundbreaking 17th century poet, Aemilia Bassano Lanier, and 20th century feminist icon, Virginia Woolf, have in common? A lot actually.

In her 1929 essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” Woolf imagines the tragedy of Shakespeare’s brilliant sister, Judith, barred from the grammar school because of her sex and forced to hide her writing from her family. To escape a forced marriage to a man she hates, she runs away to London to seek her fortune in the theatre, only to end up pregnant, abandoned, and destitute. Out of despair, she kills herself.

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