Given that today might -- or might not -- be Shakespeare's birthday, it seems as good a day as any to remember Virginia Woolf's summoning up of his unknown sister in "A Room of One's Own". I love this passage -- yet another of Woolf's wonderfully imaginative reinventions -- which never fails to inspire me, however tired or despondent or disconsolate I might be.
"I told you in the course of this paper that Shakespeare had a sister; but do not look for her in Sir Sidney Lee's life of the poet. She died young -- alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross-roads 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. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh."