This is the first full length biography of radical reformer Stella Browne, whose life, ideas and activities overturn so many assumptions about early twentieth-century politics and feminism. Stella Brown offers her biographer a window onto many neglected areas of twentieth-century history, and this context is vividly brought to life in this book. Lesley Hall's biography explores Stella Browne's life and times, from her upbringing in Nova Scotia into her political apprenticeship and life from militant suffragism in the early 1900s through her internationalism and involvement with Margaret Sanger and the birth control and sex-reform movements, her work among pacifist, Communist and feminist circles in North America, the UK and Continental Europe. Her relations with such as Rebecca West, Winifred Holtby, Havelock Ellist, Dora Russell and C.K.Ogden are central to the biography. Based on extensive and new research in primary sources in Britain, Europe and North America and on Stella Browne's own copious (and scattered) writings, this biography gives as rounded a portrait as is possible of this vivid and original woman, whose life and ideas are shown to have been well before her time.
Introduction: 'The Knowledge in My Own Person'
Chapter 1: The early years, 1880–1914
Chapter 2: The emergence of a freewoman, 1912–1914
Chapter 3: Friends, war, pacifism and revolution
Chapter 4: Spanish flu and Red Dawn
Chapter 5: 'Strong red flag'
Chapter 6: Endings, beginnings, new directions in the middle way of life
Chapter 7: Activism and other interests
Chapter 8: Milestones on the long road to freedom
Chapter 9: Progressing
Chapter 10: The years of triumph
Chapter 11: Exile and Twilight
Coda: Stella's Afterlife
Lesley A. Hall is based at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London. Her publications include 'Hidden Anxieties: Male Sexuality, 1900-1950' (Polity Press, 1991) and (with Roy Porter) 'The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950' (Yale University Press, 1995) as well as numerous articles and reviews.
'[Stella Browne] was a wonderful women who well deserves this excellent biography.'
Jad Adams, The Guardian
'Hall paints a vivid picture of this indomitable, trailblazing pioneer of legalized safe abortion. In so doing, she adds considerably to our knowledge about the sex reform movement in the first half of the 20th-century Britain and the critical place of Browne within it.'
June Purvis, Times Higher Education
'A rigorous work of scholarship and an astute evocative account of an inspiring fighter for birth control, abortion and sexual freedom. This is an historically illuminating and exceedingly relevant book.'
'Through a close and sympathetic analysis of Browne's hectic life, Hall has produced an innovative and enthralling history of the struggle for sex reform in the first half of the twentieth century as seen from the trenches. But she not only analyzes Browne's public presentations; having unearthed evidence of a number of her love affairs, Hall suggests how the public declarations on sexual issues of this complex and fascinating figure also reflected her personal experiences. The result is that Hall has crafted both an insightful history of the early twentieth-century fight for female reproductive choice and a moving portrait of the movement's most indefatigable and high-spirited campaigner.'
‘Lesley Hall has made an enormous contribution not only to the recovery of an important life, but, as the title suggests, to the recovery of an important milieu, the world of early twentieth-century sexual reform and feminism. This represents a considerable achievement in terms of empirical research…it is unlikely we will have any time soon as good a guide to Stella Browne’s life and times as Hall’s biography.’
Women’s History Review
‘In this impeccably researched biography, enriched by its sympathy for its subject, Wellcome Library archivist Lesley A. Hall illuminates a long-neglected figure and her determined campaigns for a range of issues—the vote for women, birth control, divorce reform, socialism, pacifism, and a more enlightened attitude toward sexuality among them—while establishing the importance of her work to the pro-choice cause in the UK.’
The Feminist Library
‘Through Hall’s painstaking research…she builds an intriguing picture of a woman who was both of her time and way ahead of it.’
‘Drawing on a huge range of archival material, letters and publications Hall provides a detailed picture of this complex, independent minded woman...Hall uncovers the visionary radical and dedicated internationalist who practiced what she preached..Hall’s engrossing biography underlines Stella Browne as a woman for today.’
'An outstanding account of a complex person... Lesley Hall’s portrait of Stella Browne is nuanced and shows the complexities of her character.'
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.Hardback
Publication Date: 30 Jan 2011
Number of Pages: 304
Illustrations: illustrated illustrations