Dora Marsden, a Feminist Disciple of Nietzsche

1845-1945, Dora Marsden, Freewoman / Wednesday, November 10th, 2021
An enthusiastic review of The Freewoman, edited by Dora Marsden, from The Boston Evening Transcript of Boston, Massachusetts (January 1st, 1913), page 22. The uncredited author references “A New Prophetess of Feminism: Dora Marsden” by Frances Maule Bjorkman from The Forum (October 1912). The final issue of The Freewoman was Volume 2, Number 47 (October 10, 1912). It was re-launched as The New Freewoman (1913) and finally as The Egoist (1914-1918). Dora Marsden’s work as a publisher is detailed in Dora Marsden Bibliography by Trevor Blake. Her life in and out of the woman movement is detailed in A Brave and Beautiful Spirit by Dr. Les Garner. Her evolution to the superwoman is detailed in The Gospel of Power, also by Trevor Blake.


The feminist movement has evolved its ‘superwoman’ or, rather, the superwoman is the ultimate expression of that new philosophy of feminism preached by the very latest prophetess, Dora Marsden, in her daring “humanist review,” the London Freewoman. With its mid-October issue, The Freewoman ceased temporarily to exist,, but we shall probably witness its reappearance shortly in a still more arresting form as a “significant and compelling sign of new developments taking place within the woman movement.” John Galsworthy and Francis Grierson contributed to its columns. H. G. Wells was not only a contributor, but a “constant reader.” The editorials won the applause of Havelock Ellis and the respectful attention of Bernard Shaw. The extraordinary young editor, Mrs. Bjorkman, remarks, “shot into the philosophic firmament as a star of the first magnitude. Although practically unknown except as a settlement worker and a suffragist before the advent of The Freewoman in November, 1911, she speaks always with the quietly authoritative air of the writer who has arrived.” Her amazing staff reviewer Is a girl of eighteen.

The Freewoman has voiced a philosophy as egoistic and undemocratic as Nletzche’s. It discards the ordinary. The difficult and dangerous creed by reason of which It exists will be rejected today, says Dora Marsden, by three women out of every four.

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