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ISBN: 9780198204336

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Victorian Feminists

Barbara Caine


This is a study of Victorian feminism which focuses on four leading feminists: Emily Davies, Frances Power Cobbe,Josephine Butler, and Millicent Garrett Fawcett. This approach enables Barbara Caine to uncover the range, diversity, and complexity of Victorian feminism, and to examine the relationship between personal experience and feminist commitment.

Professor Caine sets her carefully researched biographical studies of the four women, each with her own fascinating history, in the context of the Victorian feminist movement. She explores the ideas and strategies of feminists in the late nineteenth century, analysing the tensions which arose as they sought to achieve their aims. In particular, she traces the complex relationship between party politics and feminist commitment.

Barbara Caine's insight into the vision and beliefs of these Victorian feminists is balanced by her scholarly understanding of the society within which they worked. She gives us vivid and perceptive portraits of four very different individuals, who nevertheless shared a commitment to improving the lot of women.

Barbara Caine , Associate Professor of History and Director of Women's Studies, University of Sydney

Barbara Caine is the author of Destined to be Wives: The Sisters of Beatrice Webb (OUP 1986, OPB 1988): `the best and most unbiased kind of women's history ... stylishly written and imaginative study.' Times Literary Supplement

`In Victorian Feminists, Caine provides a strikingly revisionist account of Victorian feminism which reflects recent trends in feminism. Caine uses a wide range of research material, including the unpublished papers of the women she studies, in a thought-provoking and well-written account that should be the starting point for any future study on any aspect of Victorian feminism.' Magill's Literary Annual 1993

'a mature synthetic treatment of an important topic in women's and British history' S.K. Kent, University of Florida, Choice, May '93

'Barbara Caine deserves crdit for acknowledging what most feminists don't: that "women's history" was being written before 1970. Her collective biography Victorian Feminists draws on a substantial bibliography of works published since the 1920s.' Jonathan Rose, Drew University, Victorian REview, Vol. 19, No. 1, Summer 1993

'The strength of Caine's study lies in its portrayal of Victorian feminism as a complex web of differing and often opposing ideas working towards improving the lot of women.' Lori Williamson, University of Toronto, Victorian Studies Association of Ontario Newsletter, No. 54, Fall 1994