The New Freewoman
Superseded by The Egoist: An Individualist Review
Preceded by The Freewoman: A Weekly Feminist Review
and The Freewoman: A Weekly Humanist Review
Date of Publication:
Jun. 1913 – Dec. 1913
Place of Publication:
Frequency of Publication:
New International Publishing Co. (Publisher)
Trade Union Labor at the Oxonian Press (Printer)
Dimensions: 31.5 x 21 cm, 20 pages, two columns, black ink.
Rebecca West (Contributing editor)
Richard Adlington (Contributing editor)
Libraries with Original Issues:
U.S. Library of Congress, Princeton University Library, and The British Library
New York, N.Y.: Kraus Reprint Co., 1967
The transformation from The Freewoman, which ended in October 1912, to The New Freewoman, which began in June 1913, marked an official break from feminism for the sake of anarchism. Editor Dora Marsden reworded these terms, however, as “cause” and “individualism,” respectively. Marsden denounced mass movements that depersonalized the individual and reduced individuals to empty categories. With that individualism in mind, The New Freewoman proclaimed itself as without a Cause and for the empowerment of individuals, a movement known as Egoism. The manifesto and content ultimately led to the critique of the English language as an instrument of oppression and power. The New Freewoman took a decidedly literary shift and published works by a number of authors, especially Imagists, including Ezra Pound, whom Marsden met in 1912 through her colleague, Rebecca West. By October 1913 Pound contributed so heavily to the magazine that Rebecca West, feeling replaced, left the publication team. Under The New Freewoman Marsden published poems and prose by not only Pound but also H.D., William Carlos Williams, Amy Lowell, and more. It was the critique of language and semantics, however, that led to the last transformation of the magazine to The Egoist, which seemed more gender-neutral by not including “woman” or “man” in the magazine’s title.
In the second issue of The New Freewoman, Dora Marsden sets forth the purpose of the magazine in the “Views and Comments” section:
“Dear friends and readers, The New Freewoman has no Cause. The nearest approach to a Cause it desires to attain is to destroy Causes, and for the doing of this it finds its reward and incentive in its own satisfaction. The New Freewoman is not for the advancement of Woman, but for the empowering of individuals—men and women; it is not to set women free, but to demonstrate the fact that “freeing” is the individual’s affair and must be done first-hand, and that individual power is the first step thereto; it is not to bring new thoughts to individuals, but to set the thinking mechanism to the task of destroying thoughts; to make plain that thinking has no merit in itself, but is a machine, of which the purpose is not to create something, but to liberate something: not to create thoughts but to set free life impulses. […] Having no Cause we have no sacred ground, and no individual interpretations of life will be debarred beforehand. In the clash of opinion we shall expect ot find our values.”
“Views and Comments.” The New Freewoman. 1:2 (July 1, 1913): 25.
Dora Marsden (Mar. 5, 1882 – Dec. 13, 1960)
Editor: Jun. – Dec. 1913
Dora Marsden was born the fourth of five children on March 5, 1882 in Yorkshire, England. After the family woolen waste manufacturing business declined, her father emigrated to the U.S. and left his wife and four of his children including Marsden in England. Education was Dora Marsden’s path out of familial dependence and the beginning of her feminist awakening. After working as a teacher in her adolescence, Marsden graduated from Owens College in 1903. She again worked as a teacher until 1909, when she resigned and became a paid organizer for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), a group focused on the suffragist movement. From 1909 to 1910 authorities repeatedly arrested and imprisoned Marsden. After resigning from the WSPU, Marsden edited and published The Freewoman: A Weekly Feminist Review. Under her leadership the magazine transformed from The Freewoman to The New Freewoman, and finally to The Egoist. From 1913 onward Marsden became less political but worked with The Egoist until its collapse in 1919. In 1920 she moved to the Lake District and became increasingly reclusive. With the help of Harriet Shaw Weaver, Marsden published two volumes (in 1928 and 1930) of her philosophy. These volumes were poorly received, and she suffered a mental breakdown in 1934 and attempted suicide in 1935. She became a patient at Crichton Royal Hospital until her death in 1960 (Oxford DNB Vol. 36 777-778).
“The Newer School—II: Sitalkas
“The Plain Woman”
“The Newer School—III: In a Garden”
“The Contemporania of Ezra Pound”
“The Serious Artist”
“Trees of Gold”
“Androcies and the Lion”
“Scented Leaves from a Chinese Jar”
“The God Karos”
William Carlos Williams:
“The Newer School—VI: Postlude”
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Garner, Les. A Brave and Beautiful Spirit: Dora Marsden, 1882-1960. Aldershot, Hants [England: Avebury, 1990. Print.
Images. The New Freewoman. The Modernist Journals Project. 15 Jun 2016.
Kinnahan, Linda A. Poetics of the Feminine: Authority and Literary Tradition in William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Denise Levertov, and Kathleen Fraser. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Print.
MacShane, Frank. Ford Madox Ford: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge and K. Paul, 1972. Print.
Matthew, H. C. G., Brian Harrison, and British Academy. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography : In Association with the British Academy : From the Earliest Times to the Year 2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Vol. 36. 777-778. Print.
Moody, Anthony D. Ezra Pound: Poet : a Portrait of the Man and His Work. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Morrisson, Mark S. The Public Face of Modernism: Little Magazines, Audiences, and Reception, 1905-1920. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. Print.
“You Might Also Like . . . : Magazine Networks and Modernist Tastemaking in the Dora Marsden Magazines.” The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies. 5.1 (2014): 27-68. Print.
“The New Freewoman” compiled by Sophia Guevara (Class of ’16, Davidson College)