Working to Pay for a Room of One’s Own: Modern Women Writers in Latin America

Full Text

Claudia Cabello HuttUniversity of North Carolina, Greensboro
Vol. 38, No. 1 (Spring 2019), 39-58

This article examines the material conditions necessary for literary production in relation to the emergence of modern women writers in Latin America from the perspective of two working-class writers. Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938) and Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) contributed to shaping the modern idea of the professional writer and public intellectual in the 1920s and 1930s. These two Latin American writers reflected on the social, economic, and personal conditions required for writing as well as the costs, particularly for working-class women who chose to resist traditional gender roles. Their ideas can be placed in dialogue with Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own to reveal the extent to which these women from different sides of the Atlantic all identified the need for space, time, and money to write. Nevertheless, there were some significant differences in putting their principles into practice, particularly for women whose income depended on employment. Their paid work played a central but ambivalent role in shaping their identities. While it threatened their time to read and write, it was crucial to their autonomy and public personas.



Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]