Women’s History Month~Emma Goldman


Emma Goldman was a feminist, lecturer, journalist, editor, anarchist, free speech agitator, advocate of birth control, political activist, book author, popularizer of the plays of Ibsen, Strindberg, and George Bernard Shaw, free love advocate, supporter of the Republican cause and the International Brigades fighting against Franco in Spain’s Civil War, advocate and student of mid-wifery and all-around radical firebrand. She was born of Jewish parents in Kovno, Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire, on June 27, 1869. Coming to the United States in 1885, she quickly became involved in left-wing political activities. In secret proceedings during 1908-9, the federal government revoked her citizenship and deported her in December, 1919. In 1921, she left Russia, appalled at Lenin’s suppression of dissent. She spent the rest of her life in England, France and Canada, dying from complications of a stroke in Toronto, Ontario, on May 14, 1940.


Emma Goldman


The reporter Nellie Bly described Goldman as an attractive woman “with saucy turned-up nose and very expressive blue-gray eyes . . . hair falling loosely over her forehead, full lips . . . a mild, pleasant voice, with a fetching accent.” In 1922 the Nation magazine listed her as one of “the twelve greatest living women.” Roger Baldwin, one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union, said of her, “For the cause of free speech in the United States Emma Goldman fought battles unmatched by the labors of any organization.”


In addition to Goldman’s own books, essays and speeches, the materials about her are extensive. Those interested may make a start by selecting from among the following: Lives of Their Own: Rhetorical Dimensions in the Autobiographies of Women Activists (1999) by Martha Watson; Emma Goldman (1997) by Kathlyn Gay and Martin Gay; Emma Goldman: a Guide to Her Life and Documentary Sources (1995) edited by Candace Falk; Emma Goldman: Sexuality and the Impurity of the State (1993) by Bonnie Haaland; Emma Goldman and the American Left: “Nowhere at Home” (1992) by Marian J Morton; Mother Earth: an Epic Drama of Emma Goldman’s Life (1991) by Martin Duberman; Emma Goldman: American Individualist (1991) by John Chalberg; Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman (1990) by Candace Falk; Emma Goldman in Exile: from the Russian Revolution to the Spanish Civil War (1989) by Alice Wexler; Emma Goldman (1987) by Martha Watson; Emma Goldman in America (1984) by Alice Wexler; Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman (1984) by Candace Falk; Vision on Fire: Emma Goldman on the Spanish Revolution (1983) edited by David Porter; Red Emma Speaks: an Emma Goldman Reader (1983) compiled and edited by Alix Kates Shulman; Emma Goldman: Portrait of a Rebel Woman (1979) by Birendranath Ganguli; Seven Women Against the World (1976) by Margaret L Goldsmith; Rebel in Paradise: a Biography of Emma Goldman (1961) by Richard Drinnon; Emma Goldman: Biographical Sketch (1960) by Charles A Madison; Red Rose: a Novel Based on the Life of Emma Goldman (1941) by Ethel Mannin; Women and the Revolution (1938) by Ethel Manin; Native American Anarchism (1932) by Eunice M Schuster

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