Virginia Woolf stands out as one of the most significant and iconic female voices in the history of English literature. A key exponent of Modernism along with writers such as E.M. Forster and James Joyce, Woolf was a champion of female emancipation and the right of women to write whatever they wished to.
Despite being one of her lesser-studied works in comparison to, for example, 'Mrs Dalloway', Woolf's essay 'Three Guineas' continues to be debated amongst academic circles for its contribution to the field of feminist literature. In it, Woolf, whilst continuing on from 'A Room of One's Own' to explore social, economic and financial aspects to life that continued to hold women back, also expresses her deeply-held pacifist views. She also explores the effects of government, the Church and the general social order on the lives of women. Published just a year before the start of the Second World War, Woolf's pacifist, feminist, and anti-imperialistic polemic can be read against the backdrop of German militarization under Hitler since 1933.
Beginning life as a lecture she originally gave at Cambridge University and published in book form in 1938, three years prior to Woolf's untimely death at the age of 59, 'Three Guineas' remains a blisteringly powerful reminder of the social and gender inequalities that were entrenched in society and its way of thinking at the time. While it shows us how far society has come since the days of the 1930s, it remains a source of inspiration to all those fighting for the rights of the oppressed in today's world.