"I" (the Narrator)

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.

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The Beadle

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.

Mary Seton

Student at Fernham College and friend of the narrator.

Mary Beton

The 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 irrelevant.)

Judith Shakespeare

The imagined sister of William Shakespeare, who suffers greatly and eventually commits suicide because she can find no socially acceptable outlets for her genius.

Mary Carmichael

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.

Mr. A

An imagined male author, whose work is overshadowed by a looming self-consciousness and petulant self-assertiveness.