Remembering Dora Marsden: Suffragette Anarchist

A few weeks ago I wrote a short post about Constance Markievicz, suffragette and the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons (though she never actually took her seat). But there are some people for whom the passion for change burns so strongly that it brings them into conflict even with the cause they espouse.  Such was the case with Dora Marsden who died today (13th December) in 1960.  Marsden operated from Manchester and occupied a position on the radical activist wing of the suffragette movement, frequently engaging in illegal activities. From 1909 she accepted a post in the Pankhursts Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) but her assertive campaigning style resulted in frequent conflict with the organization hierarchy.

Splitting with the WSPU in 1911 she pursued a  literary path, founding the Freewoman, the New FreeWoman and Egoist journals. She gave voice to many radical authors who challenged accepted notions of society such as the role of marriage. It would be fascinating to know how she would have viewed same-sex marriage! Another important radical thinker who must NOT be eclipsed by the establishment historical narrative.

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