If Shakespeare Had A Sister

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I've been thinking a great deal about the role of women in the world of writing.

This week, I've been pouring over the sheer genius of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. She speaks with such conviction about a subject very dear to my heart.  What is the role of women in society, in art, in academia, in politics?  How is she portrayed in history?  What options were available to her vs. what should be available?

Woolf writes, "The world did not say to her as it said to them, Write if you choose; it makes no difference to me. The world said with a guffaw, Write? What's the good of your writing?" Hence we have writers like George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) and Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte)...women who had to use pen names for their works to be taken seriously in an age when women were expected to write frivolous stories.

One part of the text especially speaks with great boldness. Woolf contemplates what would have happened if Shakespeare had a sister who was the brilliant writer.  Would the world remember her genius? Probably not. We have fairly little poetry, art, music, journal entries or plays from women before the 19th century.

Still the question lingers. What would a woman have done with the same talent?

I have therefore written my own limerick poem on this subject. I hope you enjoy.

If Shakespeare Had A Sister

If Shakespeare had a sister,
Brilliant she must be,
With words all flowing from her heart
Of love and tragedy.

She’d write up in the apple loft
And on the cottage grounds,
Lifting her ever far away 
From home where she was bound.

But while William learned his Ovid,
His Virgil and his prose,
Dear sister darned the stockings,
Twas her place, Heaven knows.

She wrote in secret when she could
Until there came the morn
When father said that she should marry
To have a baby born.

Now sister was in a panic.
Her writing she must save!
And so she left in dead of night
Lest she be a mortal slave.

In London, she could be free
To write of Caliban and Kate.
But instead the kings would only leer
For this was woman’s fate.

Her words were lovely, as was her face,
A half-moon made with a pen.
And yet her lines could pierce them not,
The stage was for the men.

They told her, “What’s this madness?
A woman with a mind?
Get thee to a nunnery
And leave this Globe behind.”

If Shakespeare had a sister,
Well, you wouldn’t know today.
The world of poets and philosophers
Said she had nothing to say.

And so she wrote her sonnets
Alone in apple trees,
Unable to have an audience
And bring them to their knees.

Kudos to everyone who caught the Shakespeare puns and references! I have also included a few pictures from my own experiences at Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon. These pictures show a few of the domestic scenes that would have been common for women at the time.

[Quick clip of Shakespeare's cottage]

I'm thankful to live in a world that has been affected by the work of writers such as Virginia Woolf, who paved the way for women to be writers, to be taken seriously, to have a room of their own.

What do you think about women & fiction?

What do you think would have happened if Shakespeare had a sister?

You Might Also Like


  1. Having just completed a Shakespeare class, let me begin by saying that I LOVED THIS. Definitely caught a few references, too... ;)

    I think women have much to offer the world of fiction, just as men do. I believe each gender has a unique perspective to offer and it saddens me to see one valued over the other. In many Christian circles, women's work is devalued. Yet, in many secular circles, the feminists do the same to men's work.

    If Shakespeare had a sister... That just makes me dizzy. Could the world have handled TWO such masters of language? Goodness.

    Wonderful post! I'll be sharing this one with my Shakespeare classmates. Merry Christmas!

    Ashley @ The Writerly One

    1. I should probably tag on that not all Christian men devalue women's work and not all feminists devalue men's work. It's just a tendency I've noticed.

    2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ashely. Yes, I agree with you. I hope for a world in which both men and women are equally recognized for their work without limiting gendered expectations!

  2. That poem was brilliant. *nods* It's really scary, actually, to look back and consider how women writers were treated back then--well, I mean, just how women were treated in general. But like, even in Jane Austen's time it was still an issue. Like, it was fine for men to make a living off of writing, but it was ridiculous for women to write for money.

    Anyway, I'm so glad I don't have to worry about using a man's name as my pseudonym so that people will take me seriously. And I'm glad that the people in my life who are close to me see writing as a legitimate, if difficult, career option.

    Thanks so much for sharing! And those pictures are super cool. :)

  3. I really feel you! Especially with the pressure of being a blogger.

  4. Thanks for sharing the cover - I like it! This sounds like an intriguing read.

  5. Mobius Final Fantasy Magicite
    – Magicite get 99,999 and Gil 999,000 a single day

  6. Zeon Hack, Our generator work with on all Android & iOS devices, including the iPhone, the iPad and Ipod Mini and iPod touch.

  7. ChronoBlade
    Real-time PvP Accompanied by Multiple Player Modes...
    Click Here

  8. MLB 9 Innings 16 Hack tool is an online generator that will help you to generate Points & Stars on your iOS or Android device!

  9. Bullet Force Live Hack Resources is an online tool that will help you to generate Credits and Gold on your iOS or Android device!

  10. Super Mario Run Hack Our team just created the Generator Tool Online that will help you to get free Coins in no time.

  11. Today we present you the new Fable of Fantasy Hack & Cheats. This Online Tool Generator gives you infinity Gold and Ruby a day free NO COST.
    Access Online Generator: Fable of Fantasy Hack and Cheats

  12. WarFriends Hack Online Gold and Warbucks will allow you to buy all resources items for free no cost. Below you will see all the cheats needed to Generator Online Tool WarFriends.
    Access Generator: WarFriends Hack Online

  13. Legacy of Discord Hack Online Tool Diamonds and Gold will allow you to buy all resources items for free no cost. Below you will see all the cheats needed to Generator Legacy of Discord.
    Access Generator: Legacy of Discord Hack

  14. That poem was brilliant. Thanks

  15. Narcos Cartel Wars Hack is an online Tool that will help you to generate free gold on your iOS or Android device!
    Narcos Cartel Wars Gold Hack!

  16. Avenger Legends Hack diamonds is new online tool created to make the game easier for you.
    Avenger Legends Hack!

  17. Heroes of Skyrealm Hack Gems is new 2017 online tool generator created to make the game easier for you.
    Heroes of Skyrealm Hack!

  18. War of Rings Hack Diamonds online generator created to make the game easier for you.
    War of Rings Hack!

  19. Fifa Mobile 2017 Hack Points and Coins online generator created to make the game easier for you.
    Fifa Mobile Hack!

    1. MARVEL Strike Force Hack - GET Unlimited Gold and Orbs for you device Android or iOS !

  20. Power Rangers Legacy Wars Hack (Coins and Crystals) online generator created to make the game easier for you.
    Power Rangers Legacy Wars Hack !

  21. Crash of Cars Hack Gold and Gems online generator created to make the game easier for you.
    Crash of Cars Hack!

  22. War of Rings Hack Diamonds online generator created to make the game easier for you.

    1. Team up to build your roster and dominate the league in Tap Sports Baseball 2018.

  23. Useful Pointers For Selecting And Playing hack FIFA Mobile Games. FIFA Mobile hack android games are all the rage these days and there is rarely a person alive today who hasn't played one. These games can take you on a journey and provide you with hours of fun. There are some things you may not even know about FIFA Mobile hile games and this article will provide you with some insider tips. Try downloading a game demo prior to purchasing the actual game so that you can determine if you're going to enjoy it. You can see if you like it and if it's worth the price being charged. Be careful, though, where you download the game from. Don't download from sites you aren't familiar with; it could cause problems.
    Hack Fifa Mobile

  24. Critical Ops hack games are constantly changing, and they are getting increasingly popular. Some games now have a following Critical Ops hile keeps people up all night for its new release. Not to mention, in today's online world, everything is so much more readily discussed and available. Remember what you've read here, and enjoy some of those new Critical Ops hack games. There are a lot of methods to playing Critical Ops hack games, like SNES, Xbox 360, Sega, and Wii. It does not matter if you do not own a system because you can play a lot of games on your computer. Read the following article to learn ways you can make your Critical Ops hack gaming hobby something spectacular.
    Critical Ops hack!

  25. Understand each game rating. The realm of Fortnite hack games is not just for children, and thus, not all games are meant for the entire family. Each games offers a rating, such as EC for early childhood to AO, which means adults only. So, check the rating to be sure that the game you are buying is suitable for the player you have in mind. If you can't get past a particular level, turn off all noise, whether it is the in-game sounds or music that you have put on. This will help you to really focus on what is happening in front of you and you may have a better chance of progressing in the game.
    Fortnite hack

  26. Rules of Survival Hack Gold and Diamonds online generator created to make the game easier for you.
    Rules of Survival Hack!

  27. WWE Mayhem Hack Gold and Cash live generator created to make the game easier for all gamers.
    WWE Mayhem Hack!

  28. Paladins Strike Hack Gold and Crystals Online Generator created to make the game easier for all gamer.
    Paladins Strike Hack!

  29. The Sims Mobile- Create your Sims, give them unique personalities, and customize their world with more detail than ever before on mobile.

  30. Welcome to Fortnite V-Bucks Online Hack.

  31. Fortnite Battle Royale Hack V-Bucks 2018 !

  32. PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS goes mobile - the original Battle Royale game is now available on your device!

  33. Pest Control Company Pesticide Insecticides Company is the best insect control company in Saudi Arabia
    شركة الصفرات لمكافحة الحشرات بالرياض
    We have the best kinds of pesticides that eliminate all types of insects crawling and flying imported pesticides not found only by our company

  34. Welcome to Dead Rivals Online Generator Gems FREE.

  35. Shadowgun Legends Hack Live Generator for Android and iOS Device.

  36. Destiny Warfare Hack - Unlimited Credits and Gold for you platform-device Android, 100% Worked.

  37. Major Mayhem 2 Hack Get Unlimited Coins and Gems for you device Android or iOS 100% Worked.

  38. Dungeon Hunter Champions Hack Get Unlimited Gold and Gems for you device Android or iOS.

  39. Death Shooter 4 Hack - Unlimited Cash and Gold for you platform-device iOS and Android 100% Worked.

  40. Disney Heroes: Battle Mode Hack - Unlimited Diamonds and Gold for you device iOS and Android.