Early French Feminisms, 1830–1940 is a source book of personal and political writings by Flora Tristan, Pauline Roland, Jeanne Deroin, Hélène Brion and Madeleine Pelletier, five key individuals in the development of women’s rights in France.
Though their writings and political activity ranged over more than a century, these women were linked by their commitment to feminism and to socialism and can be considered as seminal figures in French political thought. Their journals, letters and diaries have not been available in print or in English translation and the same is true of many of their published works. As well as extensive extracts from the original source material, Early French Feminisms, 1830–1940 contains biographical and contextual historical material which sets the writers in their period and links them to contemporary feminist and socialist debates. Tristan, Deroin, Roland, Pelletier and Brion were active in the growth of trade union organization, Saint-Simonian utopian socialism, the birth of the parliamentary Socialist Parties, pacifism during the First World War and the neo-Malthusian or birth control movement.
Ranging across personal and public genres of writings, the texts reproduced for this volume, placed in historical context, demonstrate the difficulty which these largely self-educated women faced in entering the public sphere and the political persecution which they faced courageously. Early French Feminisms, 1830–1940 clarifies an important chapter in feminist and socialist militancy which will be of interest to students and scholars of women’s studies and modern French history.