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But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction--what, has that got to do with a room of one's own? When you asked me to speak about women and fiction I sat down on the banks of a river and began to wonder what the words meant.
They might mean simply a few remarks about Fanny Burney; a few more about Jane Austen; a tribute to the Brontës and a sketch of Haworth Parsonage under snow; some witticisms if possible about Miss Mitford; a respectful allusion to George Eliot; a reference to Mrs Gaskell and one would have done.
Therefore I propose, making use of all the liberties and licences of a novelist, to tell you the story of the two days that preceded my coming here--how, bowed down by the weight of the subject which you have laid upon my shoulders, I pondered it, and made it work in and out of my daily life.
I need not say that what I am about to describe has no existence; Oxbridge is an invention; so is Fernham; 'I' is only a convenient term for somebody who has no real being.
To the right and left bushes of some sort, golden and crimson, glowed with the colour, even it seemed burnt with the heat, of fire.
On the further bank the willows wept in perpetual lamentation, their hair about their shoulders.
The river reflected whatever it chose of sky and bridge and burning tree, and when the undergraduate had oared his boat through the reflections they closed again, completely, as if he had never been.
There one might have sat the clock round lost in thought.
What idea it had been that had sent me so audaciously trespassing I could not now remember.
Alas, laid on the grass how small, how insignificant this thought of mine looked; the sort of fish that a good fisherman puts back into the water so that it may grow fatter and be one day worth cooking and eating.