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The Tragedy of Shakespeare’s Sister in the Eyes of Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own was initially published in October 1929. There she mentioned Shakespeare’s sister. It is ultimately a fictional character. She wrote about her just to portray the picture of women in the eighteenth century. 

Besides, the men are all capable of writing some ordinary poems, proses, etc. But the woman did not write a single word about her condition at the early times. 

Instead, they were prohibited from saying or writing anything. In Professor Trevelyan’s History of England, I read,” Wife-beating was a recognized right of man and….” At the age of Shakespeare, they thought women could not write the plays of Shakespeare.

When Virginia Woolf wrote her papers, men did not respect women intellectually. Let us imagine then what would happen if Shakespeare had a sister. As Woolf was imagining while writing. 

Introduction of Virginia Woolf


Shakespeare had a beautifully gifted sister named Judith Shakespeare. Miss Shakespeare was as adventurous, as imaginative, as a genius, and hard working.  

Besides, Judith was a beautiful, young and friendly lady. But she did not get a chance to go to school. So, Judith cannot have the opportunity to learn logic. 

As well as she cannot read Horace and Virgil. She has taught herself at home with whatever she gets at hand. Her parents want her to leave all her books and studies. As they want her to get married. But she wants to learn and to become someone. 

So, she has severely beaten by her father as per the rules. She cried and pleaded but all in vain. At last, she packed her belongings and escaped to the streets of London on a summer night.

Virginia Woolf’s character and her Sufferings

Virginia Woolf

She suffers greatly in a male-dominated society. Eventually, she commits suicide as she cannot find any socially acceptable outlets for her talents.

She is also dead for her own family that very day she left home. Through the fictional character, Judith Woolf imagines a woman’s life as an unrealized genius.

Though she was as brilliant as her brother. Judith is unable to fulfill her potential in her patriarchal Elizabethan society. As a result, she is forced to commit suicide. She is an example of why there was no women genius in the Eighteenth-century.

If a woman wants to raise herself at her own stake, Virginia doubts that society hardly permits her to come up.

Though she is a fictional character, her portrait describes the fatality of being a woman in that era. Her own brother can become a universal author, but she cannot.


Despite having virtues, she cannot flourish as she is a woman. Therefore, according to society, she has to get married and run the household as per her family wishes.


Last but not least, Virginia Woolf portrays the character of Shakespeare’s sister to show us the pathetic condition of women under the reign of a woman.

Though she was the sister of one of the most excellent writers, Shakespeare, she shares the ill fate with the other women. This is because the patriarchal society takes women as their dolls.

Virginia Woolf recognizes that how helpless women were. So maybe the woman can be Shakespeare’s sister or a typical middle-class lady.


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