- The fictionalized author-surrogate ("call me Mary Beton,
Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please—it is not
a matter of any importance") whose process of reflection on the
topic "women and fiction" forms the substance of the essay.
- An Oxbridge security official who reminds the narrator
that only "Fellows and Scholars" are permitted on the grass; women
must remain on the gravel path.
at Fernham College and friend of the narrator.
narrator's aunt, whose legacy of five hundred pounds a year secures
her niece's financial independence. (Mary Beton is also one of the
names Woolf assigns to her narrator, whose identity, she says, is
- The imagined sister of William Shakespeare, who suffers
greatly and eventually commits suicide because she can find no socially
acceptable outlets for her genius.
- A fictitious novelist, contemporary with the narrator
of Woolf's essay. In her first novel, she has "broken the sentence,
broken the sequence" and forever changed the course of women's writing.
imagined male author, whose work is overshadowed by a looming self-consciousness
and petulant self-assertiveness.