Virginia Woolf wrote this as an essay for her lectures on women and fiction it appears. In 1929 they were published as the book 'A Room of One's Own'. Here she says that women cannot think of writing fiction without being conscious of being dependent or looking for the validation of men who control their space (a room) and independence (finance). She says she had access to a lifelong pension of 500 pounds from her aunt which allowed her to write fiction.
She explores men's writing over the years and exposes their patriarchal views on women, the gradual assertion by women of their rights to property, to vote, to independent action. In view of all this she felt that women could never write freely or express themselves without the approval of men, the unseen presence of men, over their shoulder.
Those long, long sentences,the way she drifts in and out of reality and her thought, makes it a fascinating read. It looks like she is in a library exploring books by men on women, or women's writing over the ages. Always wanted to read her works and finally have. Now to give it over to the family feminist who will surely enjoy it a lot more.
As always, the lives of the authors make for fascinating reading. As she avers, she was born into a wealthy family where her father encouraged her to write and she could. She was part of a group called the Bloomsbury Group - Keynes, Forster and others in it (they had these lovely groups then). She had romantic relationships with women including her publisher which continued till she died. She was plagued by mental illness for most of her life.