Labour Research March 2017


Rebel crossings

New women, free lovers, and radicals in Britain and the United States

Sheila Rowbotham, Verso, 512 pages, £19.99 (hardback)

Sheila Rowbotham is one of the UK’s leading feminist historians, well known for her books, including Women, resistance and revolution (1972), Hidden from history (1973), and more recently, her book on the early 20th century gay rights activist, Edward Carpenter.

In Rebel crossings she relates the interweaving lives of four women and two men as they journey from the 19th to the 20th century, from Britain to America, and from Old World conventions towards New World utopias.

Radicalised by the rise of socialism, Helena Born, Miriam Daniell, Gertrude Dix, Robert Nicol and William Bailie cross the Atlantic dreaming of liberty and equality. The book offers fascinating perspectives on the historical interaction of feminism, socialism, and anarchism. 

These six lives bring fresh slants on political and cultural movements and on influential individuals of the time such as Walt Whitman, Eleanor Marx, William Morris, Patrick Geddes and Benjamin Tucker.

By looking in detail at the sorts of lives that are usually ignored by mainstream historians, Rowbotham uses their stories to engage us in the dilemmas of our own time.

Reviews contributed by the Bookmarks socialist bookshop. 

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