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Marsden, Dora (1882–1960)

Gary S. Sprayberry


Dora Marsden, modernist writer, editor, and feminist activist, was born in Yorkshire, England. As a student at the University of Manchester, Marsden became involved in the women's rights movement. In 1909 she and others were arrested when they attempted to disrupt a speech by Winston Churchill. Soon after, Marsden landed a high-profile position with the Women's Social and Political Union. Conflicts with its moderate leadership led her to leave the organization in 1911. Soon thereafter, Marsden began publishing The Freewoman: A Weekly Feminist Review (1911–12), abandoning the suffragist petition for “rights” in favor of the individual woman's effort “to carve out an independence for herself.” Under this and its successive titles, The New Freewoman: A Weekly Humanist Review (1913–14) and The Egoist: An Individualist Review (1914–19), the journal challenged traditional sexual mores and featured some of modernism's rising literary titans, including Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, and James Joyce. At the same time, Marsden expressed her developing philosophy of “egoism,” influenced by Max Stirner's The Ego and His Own , in polemics with American individualist anarchist Benjamin R. Tucker (1854–1939). Ultimately, Marsden rejected Tucker's ethical commitments, and “anarchism” altogether, as constraints upon the ego, calling herself instead an “Archist,” obliged only by ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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