Trevor Blake & The Atkinson: Dora Marsden and the Gospel of Power

Dora Marsden, Events, Trevor Blake / Monday, May 27th, 2024

Dora Marsden was born in the village of Marsden in 1882. In 1900 began teaching at Owens College, where she met Christabel Pankhurst and other suffragists. Dora joined them and became a leader in the Women’s Social and Political Union (WPSU) by 1908. The following year she resigned as a teacher and became a full time agitator for the WSPU, graduating from suffragist to suffragette. She was sentenced to two months in prison for vandalism in 1909: she refused to wear prison clothes and served her time in the nude, even wriggling out of a straightjacket that had been forced on her. After a hunger strike she was released and continued to agitate. She disrupted political meetings (including a speech by a young Winston Churchill). The WSPU “promoted” her to a clerical position to temper her agitation. Dora, meanwhile, had grown tired of the “skirt movement” and sought a liberty beyond feminism.

In 1911, Dora founded “The Freewoman” (1911 – 1912), a periodical described as “a disgusting publication… indecent, immoral and filthy.” Financial troubles led to a re-launch as “The New Freewoman” (1914). And an ever more keen search for liberty led to a re-launch as “The Egoist” (1914 – 1919). Dora’s periodicals were the first to publish significant works by James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and others.

In the 1920s – 1930s Dora wrote three books: “The Definition of the Godhead” (1928), “The Mysteries of Christianity” (1930) and “The Philosophy of Time” (published later, in 1955). During the writing of these books she went from a self-imposed isolation to confinement in a mental hospital, where she spent the remainder of her life.

About Trevor Blake (born 1966)

Author and publisher with a special interest in Dora Marsden. Published a new and expanded edition of “A Brave and Beautiful Spirit: Dora Marsden (1882 – 1960)” by Dr. Les Garner. Wrote “Dora Marsden Bibliography,” edited collection of Dora essays “The Gospel of Power,” published new and expanded edition of “The Philosophy of Time.”

This was a free online talk by The Atkinson to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024. The Atkinson is Southport’s home for music, theatre, art, literature and history. Special thanks to The Atkinson for this opportunity.

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