Originally published in 1977, this book brings together what is known about liberal feminist and socialist movements for the emancipation of women all over the world in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It deals not only with Britain and the United States but also with Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary and the Scandinavian countries. The chapters trace the origins, development, and eventual collapse of these movements in relation to the changing social formations and political structures of Europe, America and Australasia in the era of bourgeois liberalism.
The first part of the book discusses the origins of feminist movements and advances a model or ‘ideal type’ description of their development. The second part then takes a number of case studies of individual feminist movements to illustrate the main varieties of organised feminism and the differences from country to country. The third part looks at socialist women’s movements and includes a study of the Socialist Women’s International. A final part touches on the reason for the eclipse of women’s emancipation movements in the half-century following the end of the First World War, before a general conclusion pulls together some of the arguments advanced in earlier chapters and attempts a comparison between these feminist movements of 1840-1920 and the Women’s Liberation Movement.