The Next Generation: Stella Browne, the New Woman as Freewoman

  • Lesley A. Hall


New Women at the end of the nineteenth century were leading activist and outward-looking lives, openly challenging many of the most cherished conventions of British society. Linked networks of women, not just odd rebellious individuals, were protesting in very various ways both personal and political against the established order. Emma Brooke, author of the prototypical New Woman novel, A Superfluous Woman (1894), was a Fabian and the compiler of Tabulation of the Factory Laws of European Countries, with special reference to women and children (1898). A former member of the Fellowship of the New Life and participant in the ‘Fellowship House’ experiment, she was thus an associate of Edith Lees Ellis, whose Seaweed: A Cornish Idyll (1898: revised and republished as Kit’s Woman in 1907), set in rather humbler social circles than most New Woman novels, dealt with the right of a sensual woman married to a loving but paralysed miner-husband to seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere. Liz Stanley has illuminated Ellis’s connections with various overlapping networks of activist women from the 1880s to the 1910s.1


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Chris Waters, ‘New Women and Socialist-Feminist Fiction: the novels of Isabella Ford and Katherine Bruce Glasier’, Rediscovering Forgotten Radicals: British Women Writers 1880–1939, eds Angela Ingram and Daphne Patai ( Chapel Hill: University of North Caroline Press, 1993 ), 29.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Lucy Bland, Banishing the Beast: English Feminism and Sexual Morality, 1885–1914 ( Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1995 ), 172.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Karen Hunt, Equivocal Feminists: The Social Democratic Federation and the Woman Question, 1884–1911 ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996 ), 94–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 6.
    Rebecca West, ‘The Freewoman’, Time and Tide, 16 July 1926, reprinted in Dale Spender, Time and Tide Wait for No Man ( London: Pandora Press, 1984 ), 65–6.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Les Garner, A Brave and Beautiful Spirit: Dora Marsden 1882–1960 ( Aldershot: Avebury, 1990 ), 60.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Ruth First and Ann Scott, Olive Schreiner: a Biography ( London: André Deutsch, 1980 ), 291–2.Google Scholar
  7. 20.
    Sheila Jeffreys, The Spinster and Her Enemies: Feminism and Sexuality 1880–1930 ( London: Pandora Press, 1985 );Google Scholar
  8. Margaret Jackson, The Real Facts of Life: Feminism and the Politics of Sexuality c. 1850–1940 (London: Taylor & Francis, 1994); Bland, Banishing the Beast.Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    Lesley Hall, ‘“I have never met the normal woman”: Stella Browne and the politics of womanhood’, Women’s History Review, 1997, 6, 157–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 25.
    F. W. Stella Browne, The Sexual Variety and Variability Among Women, and their Bearing upon Social Reconstruction ( London: British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, 1917 ).Google Scholar
  11. 26.
    Lesley A. Hall, ‘Suffrage, Sex and Science’, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: New feminist perspectives, eds Maroula Joannou and June Purvis ( Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998 ), 188–200.Google Scholar
  12. 33.
    Barbara Taylor, Eve and the New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the Nineteenth Century ( London: Virago, 1983 ).Google Scholar
  13. 39.
    F. W. Stella Browne, ‘Concerning the Yoshiwara’, The Freewoman, 18 July 1912, 176.Google Scholar
  14. 40.
    F. W. Stella Browne ‘Women and Birth-Control’, Population and Birth-Control: A Symposium, eds Eden and Cedar Paul ( New York: Critic and Guide, 1917 ), 247–57.Google Scholar
  15. 41.
    Jane Lewis, Women in England 1870–1950 (Brighton: Wheatsheaf Books, 1984), 105:Google Scholar
  16. Greta Jones ‘Women and Eugenics in Britain: the Case of Mary Scharlieb, Elizabeth Sloan Chesser, and Stella Browne’, Annals of Science, 1995, 52, 481–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. George Robb, ‘Race Motherhood: Moral Eugenics vs Progressive Eugenics, 1880–1920’, Maternal Instincts: Visions of Motherhood and Sexuality in Britain, 1875–1925, eds Claudia Nelson and Ann Summer Holmes ( London: Macmillan, 1997 ), 58–74.Google Scholar
  18. 43.
    F. W. Stella Browne, ‘A Few Straight Questions to the Eugenics Society’, The Freewoman, 1 August 1912, 217–18.Google Scholar
  19. 44.
    F. W. Stella Browne, ‘More Questions’, The Freewoman, 15 August 1912, 258.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lesley A. Hall

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations