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17/06/2020

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‘A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out’ —Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader

Perhaps as loved as her fiction and letters, Woolf’s essays guide their reader through considerations of equality, the importance of literature, health, and pleasure. Many readers have discovered or re-discovered Woolf’s essays during lockdown, finding in them inspiration and solace in uncertain times. In her essay ‘Street Haunting’ Virginia Woolf noted, ‘we are no longer quite ourselves’, which takes on new meaning almost a century later, when essays still help us make sense of the world around

Join writers Mona Eltahawy and Sinéad Gleeson in conversation with Charleston’s Susannah Stevenson as they discuss the power of modern essay writing, the potential of the form to progress feminism, and the legacy of Virginia Woolf’s work.

Wednesday 17 June, 6.30pm. Please register for this event on Crowdcast.

This event is free to the public and RSL Members.


Susannah Stevenson is the Artistic Director of Charleston Festival, Small Wonder – The Short Story Festival, and Literary Programmes at Charleston, the homeplace of the Bloomsbury Group.

Mona Eltahawy is a journalist and author of The 7 Necessary Sins For Women & Girls and Headscarves & Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution.

Sinéad Gleeson is a writer of essays, criticism and fiction. Her bestselling collection of essays Constellations was shortlisted for the 2020 Rathbones Folio Prize and won non-fiction book of the year at the Irish Book Awards.

You can read Virginia Woolf’s original notebook draft of the notebook draft for The Common Reader (1925), as well as those of Mrs Dalloway from 1923 (Volume II and Volume III), in the British Library online archive.