Rebel Crossings

Rebel Crossings:New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in Britain and the United States

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The transatlantic story of six radical pioneers at the turn of the twentieth century

In a feat of extraordinary archival research Sheila Rowbotham uncovers six little-known women and men whose lives were both dramatic and startlingly radical. Rowbotham tells a story that moves from Bristol, Belfast and Edinburgh to Massachusetts and the wildernesses of California, showing how rebellious ideas were formed and travelled across the Atlantic.

Rebel Crossings offers fascinating perspectives on the historical interaction of feminism, socialism, anarchism and on the incipient consciousness of a new sense of self, so vital for women seeking emancipation. Their influences ranged from Unitarianism, High Church Anglicanism, and esoteric spirituality through to Walt Whitman, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, Eleanor Marx, Peter Kropotkin, Benjamin Tucker, and Max Stirner. In differing ways they sought to combine the creation of a co-operative society with personal freedom, enhanced perception and loving friendships, experimenting with free love, rational dress, health diets and deep breathing.

A work of significant originality in terms of historical scholarship, this book also speaks to the dilemmas of our own times.


  • Rebel Crossings contains remarkable tales of courage

    Times Higher Education
  • Like the radicals of the sixties who shaped Rowbotham, the subjects of her new book connected their political action to their pursuit of personal transformation and spiritualism...Rebel animated by this idea, as essential now as ever, that socialism and feminism are inseparable.

    Laura TanenbaumThe New Republic
  • Rowbotham is a leading feminist historian, and an unapologetic utopian … Rebel Crossings is crammed with hopeful visions from the past.

    Barbara TaylorGuardian