The Duties of Women.
Cobbe,Frances Power.

London: Williams and Norgate, 1881. First edition of one of the author’s most important feminist works (encouraging political emancipation, philanthropic action, etc). The first American edition was published the same year with a Boston imprint. Binding extremities lightly rubbed, very minor wear to crown and tail of spine. A few small bumps to front board. Very minor foxing to preliminary leaves. Small binder’s ticket on rear pastedown. Contemporary ink inscription on verso of front flyleaf. A very good, bright copy Publisher’s brick red cloth stamped decoratively in gilt and black, gilt spine. All edges gilt. Brown coated endpapers. [3], [1, blank], viii, 1 (Item ID: 16415)


Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904) was a feminist, suffragist, philanthropist, and antivivsectionist, as well as a prolific writer. She wrote for several magazines including The Standard and The Daily News. Cobbe was a member of the Married Women’s Property Committee, the London National Society for Woman’s Suffrage, and the National Anti-Vivisection Society. She had personal contact with several major personages of her day, including John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and Tennyson and was friends with several feminists including Emily Davies (1830-1921, founder of Gitron College) and suffrage leaders Lydia Becker (1827-1890) and Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847-1929). Her greatest contribution to the women’s rights movement was through her writing. Cobbe’s two best-known works are Essays on the Pursuits of Women (1863) and The Duties of Women, which explores a woman’s role within relationships (mother, sister, daughter, etc.), within her household, and within society.

“[Duties] took immediate cognizance of the changes in society concerning women’s attitudes, behavior, and status. Although [Cobbe] approved of the new freedom of function of women, she noted also the difficulties inherent in contemporary concepts of right and duty. Advising caution, she advocated retention of the ‘old moral ideal’ of motherhood, comparing mother-child love to that of God” (An Encyclopedia of British Women Writers, pp. 157-158).

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