New York: Published by the Author, 1905. First edition, presentation copy from the author. One of five hundred copies. Uncommon in commerce. With a frontisportrait of Walt Whitman. Some dustsoiling to cloth and sunning to spine. Clean and fresh throughout. A very good, clean copy, inscribed by the author (dated 1914). Publisher’s pictorial gray cloth stamped in green with a design of reeds and grass. Titled in gilt. Octavo. 72 pp. Item #17299
Rev. Mabel MacCoy Irwin (1856 – 1928) reads Whitman through the lens of women’s rights. She analyzes the language and themes of poems like “Leaves of Grass” and “Children of Adam” to argue that Whitman’s writing belies his empathy toward women. Irwin also identifies themes of independence, pleasure, self-determination, and sexuality in Whitman’s work, and argues that those themes are crucial components of women’s freedom. In Irwin’s view, Whitman’s writing supports women’s struggle for bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and equality in marriage, and inspires women to explore those themes in their own writing.
Irwin was a Universalist pastor, lecturer, women’s rights activist, and one of the first woman graduates of Tufts Divinity School. She was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement and the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage. In 1915, she served as a representative for the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage at the International Conference of Women in the Hague.