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Collection Overview

Marsden, Dora, 1882-1960
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Dora Marsden Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1907-1961 (mostly 1909-1914)
4 boxes and 1.60 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-4


Dora Marsden was an English author, editor, and suffragette. The collection contains correspondence about Marsden's books and periodicals, manuscripts sent to the periodicals, correspondence with other feminists, part of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and correspondence with contemporary literary figures.

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists of papers of Marsden, including correspondence relating to her books, The Definition of the Godhead, The Mysteries of Christianity, and The Philosophy of the Time, and the three periodicals she edited, The Freewoman, The New Freewoman, and The Egoist. Contained in the collection are manuscripts sent to the periodicals, although the bulk of this material appeared in The Freewoman. There is also correspondence between feminists, such as Harriet Shaw Weaver, Mary Gawthorpe, and Grace Jardine, and an exchange of letters among leading suffragettes, including Emmeline and Cristabel Pankhurst of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

In January of 1911, Marsden left WSPU and founded The Freewoman to express her more radical feminist views. When the publisher of The Freewoman went bankrupt, the editors reorganized their periodical to form The New Freewoman, continuing their feminist philosophy, but within six months of its publication, encouraged by Ezra Pound, the magazine became The Egoist and reflected a greater interest in literature and literary subjects. Included is a fragment of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which appeared in serial form in The Egoist.

A special section of the collection groups together correspondence of well-known literary contemporaries of Marsden, such as Rebecca West, H. G. Wells, Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence, Storm Jameson, and others. Many of Storm Jameson's letters in the correspondence relate to The Definition of the Godhead.

Collection Creator Biography:

Marsden, Dora, 1882-1960

Dora Marsden (1882-1960) was a writer, editor, and British suffragette in the early 20th century. After graduating from Owens College in 1903, she worked as a teacher and later became the headmistress of Altrincham Teacher-Pupil Center. At this time, she was also becoming more active in the British Women's Rights Movement. After several arrests in 1909, Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst offered Marsden a position in their organization, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), which used civil disobedience and militant tactics to campaign for white, middle-class women's right to vote in England.

Marsden resigned from the WSPU in 1911 due to political and philosophical disagreements and, later that year, founded the Freewoman with her co-editor Mary Gawthorpe to critique WSPU for its militant campaigns and lack of interest in the rights of working class women. Her periodical also discussed other controversial topics of the time, such as birth control, homosexuality, free love, and wages for housework and mothering. The Freewoman publication ended due to a lack of financial resources in 1912 after Gawthrope resigned and its publisher, W. H. Smith and Son's, withdrew support. Marsden revived the journal in 1913 as The New Freewoman and then again in 1914 as The Egoist, which ran until 1919. In these publications, she shifted her perspective from a radical feminist one to a humanist view with an interest in literary experimentalism.

Collection History


Purchased in 1986.


No appraisal information is available.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Dora Marsden Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-4