She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil.

This quotation comes from Chapter 3, as the narrator first describes Judith Shakespeare’s character. The narrator makes a point to give her as many natural talents as her brother to make it clear that the difference between their fates lies in the opportunities given to them, not in any quirk of character or preference. The disparity in their lives begins early on in their childhood, with Judith never receiving the basic education that would allow her to begin fostering a talent.

How could she disobey him? How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove her to it.

This quotation from Chapter 3 describes the gravity of Judith Shakespeare’s decision to run away from home. As a woman, she has the responsibility to marry in a way that will benefit her family. Her defiance hurts her father because of the consequences it has for her family. This quote also highlights the narrator’s belief that having an artistic gift compels the artist to follow it despite any consequences. Embedded in Judith’s tragedy is the idea that she couldn’t live as an average woman of her time because of her gift, but the world also would not allow her to nurture it.

[S]he found herself with child by that gentleman and so—who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?—killed herself one winter’s night.

The narrator describes Judith’s tragic fate in Chapter 3 with a grave sense that it was inevitable. Implicit here is that Judith’s pregnancy is the final straw that pushes her to commit suicide. If Judith were to have a child, she would be expected to give all her energy to nurturing that child instead of her art. The thought of losing all her time and energy is too much of a loss for Judith to bear.

Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the crossroads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed.

During her rousing conclusion in Chapter 6, Woolf brings back the specter of Judith Shakespeare to inspire her audience. Here Judith becomes a thwarted literary foremother, a woman who could have helped establish a canon if given time. Just as the narrator describes the canon of literature as building off itself, the narrator suggests that each of them could build on the foundation of women geniuses who died unknown if they are given the resources to do so.