In this article I shall attempt to show that Virginia Woolf’s essayistic voice is an ambiguous one. To establish aesthetic authority as a woman in a male-dominated field, and at the same time stage herself as a democratic and antiauthoritarian common reader, represented a challenge and an interesting conflict for Woolf. As a woman essayist, Woolf made a place for herself by deconstructing the «great» male personality in literature, linking her voice to the female letter writer or the obscure woman author. She adopted the collective narrative voice of «we», shedding what she saw as an authoritative, egocentric and personal «I». I shall argue that this «voice of her own» is not so democratic and antiauthoritarian as feminist criticism claims.

Keywords: Virginia Woolf, essays, authority, ambiguity