Frances Power Cobbe entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
As one of the most prominent Victorian writers of non-fiction prose, and the only feminist of the period who wrote regularly in periodicals, Frances Power Cobbe published prolifically in a range of genres from reportage and travel writing to social criticism, theology, and ethics. As a professional journalist she wrote more than a hundred periodical essays, and above a thousand anonymous newspaper leaders. She published, at a conservative estimate, eighteen books and innumerable tracts. A key figure in the Victorian women's movement, she produced ground-breakingly trenchant as well as frequently witty analyses of women's social and political disabilities, representing womanly duty as feminist praxis. All her social writings are grounded in her life-long effort to promulgate a nondenominational theistic system of ethics. In her later career she dedicated herself to fighting animal vivisection (a cause she characterized as an abolitionist crusade analogous to anti-slavery) and the campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts. For the anti-vivisection campaign alone she produced considerable journalism and at least two hundred tracts. Her theology, ethics, feminism, and anti-vivisection converged in her argument that sympathy—beyond as well as within the human community—was an index of true civilisation. Bibliographic Citation link.
4 December 1822 FPC was born in Dublin, the youngest of five and the only girl in her family. Bibliographic Citation link.
December 1868 FPC published in Fraser's Magazine her signed, landmark claim for women's civil and property rights: "Criminals, Idiots, Women, and Minors". Bibliographic Citation link.
May 1903 FPC published her last major essay, "Woman Suffrage", in the Contemporary Review. It concluded: "In short, in the lump, women are better than men." Bibliographic Citation link.
5 April 1904 FPC died at Hengwrt near Dolgelley in Wales. Bibliographic Citation link.
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