Sheila Rowbotham, who helped start the women’s liberation movement in Britain, is known internationally as an historian of feminism and radical social movements. She is the author of the ground-breaking books Women, Resistance and Revolution; Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World; and Hidden from History. Her later works include Promise of a Dream: Remembering the Sixties; Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century; and the biography Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love, shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize and winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Biography. Her poetry and two plays have been published and she has written for newspapers and journals in Britain, the US, Italy, Brazil, Turkey, Sweden and Sri Lanka. An Honorary Fellow of Manchester University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, she lives in Bristol.
October 28, 2017
London, United Kingdom
William Morris Society
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Detail from c. 1920s Soviet poster for International Women's Day.
First published in 1973, and reissued as part of Verso's Radical Thinkers series, Women, Resistance and Revolution: A History of Women and Revolution in the Modern World — Sheila Rowbotham's first book-length study, a landmark in feminist history — reconstructs the often neglected feminist currents in the English, American, French, Russian, Chinese, Algerian, Cuban, Vietnamese revolutions, and within European socialist movements. "This is not a proper history of feminism and revolution," Rowbotham writes, "Such a story necessarily belongs to the future and will anyway be a collective creation. Instead I have tried to trace the fortunes of an idea. It is a very simple idea, but one with which we have lost touch, that the liberation of women necessitates the liberation of all human beings."
Continued from Part I.
Alexandra Kollontai became notorious as one of the defenders of sexual freedom. In fact her ideas were quite different from the "glass of water" theories described in novels like Without a Bird-Cherry Tree by P. Romanov, and The Dog’s Lane by Lev Gumilevsky. Instead she followed the tradition of the young Marx and Engels in The Origin of the Family in imagining that love would develop rather than disappear under communism:
On this day in 1759, pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft was born in Spitalfield's, London.
In this extract from her introduction to Wollstonecraft's groundbreaking work A Vindication of the Rights of Women, historian Sheila Rowbotham charts the radical milieu into which she was born, and the enduring influence of her work.