Founded in 2000, A Room of Her Own (AROHO) is the preeminent nonprofit organization working on behalf of women writers today. AROHO’s mission is to inspire, fund, and champion works of art and literature by women. AROHO has channeled more than 1,000,000 publicly gifted dollars into new awards, fellowships, and life-changing opportunities for women and has inspired thousands of books and works of art by women.
While advancing Virginia Woolf’s belief that “women need money and a room of their own if they are to write,” AROHO also works to cultivate an environment of collective fellowship in which creative women bravely unearth, articulate, and contribute transformational literature and art.
AROHO’s Founding Story
When Darlene Chandler Bassett and Mary Johnson met at Ghost Ranch in 2000, a door opened for creative women that hadn’t existed before.
A gifted executive and early retiree, Darlene had just lost her mother and was looking for fellowship and purpose. She signed up to attend a group called Circle of Women, bringing along Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own to read when she had a moment to herself.
Mary was also striking out in a new direction. Having recently left Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity after twenty years in the order, she had come to Ghost Ranch to exercise her freedom and contemplate her future. Given her past, Circle of Women was the last program she wanted to join, but everything else that interested her was full. She too arrived at the ranch with a copy of A Room of One’s Own, newly purchased from a bookstore in Santa Fe.
So when the group asked Mary to tell them what she needed, she found her answer in the title of Virginia’s book. She determined her most pressing need was “a room of [her] own to write [her] story.” In that moment Darlene instinctively knew what she needed and what she had to give. Darlene came to Mary’s room later and said, “That room of your own? I can help you with that. And together we’ll build an organization that helps women tell their own stories.” Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and the beliefs expressed within, became the medium for Darlene and Mary to achieve their individual missions.
Now AROHO is that medium for others, and proof that 1 + 1 can equal 1000s. More than a decade later, AROHO is a growing collective of women bonded by a common goal: to transform ourselves and others through the sharing of individual gifts, as readers, administrators, funders, artists, authors. Even when women are viewed as equal contributors to the legacy of art and literature as Virginia Woolf imagined, our mission will remain, and perhaps be even more important. When barriers are removed we’re confident that the missions will just get bigger.