“THE BIBLE OF THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT”: SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN’S WOMEN AND ECONOMICS
Women and Economics. A Study of the Economic Relations between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution.
[Gilman] Stetson, Charlotte Perkins.
Item Number: 84940
Boston: Small Maynard & Company, 1898.
First edition of this work which was hailed on publication by Jane Addams as “a masterpiece.” Octavo, original cloth. In very good condition, contemporary name to the front free endpaper.
“One of America’s preeminent feminist writers and social reformers at the turn of the century, Charlotte Perkins Gilman stressed the importance of economic independence and equality for women in all spheres of life.” Publication of Women and Economics, Gilman’s “first and best known nonfiction work,” quickly established her international reputation and was “hailed as the bible of the women’s movement. In it she asserts: ‘To speak broadly, the troubles of life as we find them are mainly traceable to the heart or the purse” (Kort, A to Z of Women Writers, 105-6). “She argued in it that the major influence in our lives is the way we earn a living, a view built on classical economics… Gilman located the source of the subordination of women in the home, society’s most venerated institution. She exposed the façade of the sentimental home by demonstrating how it was a limiting place, a place in which patriarchal power was used against women and children, and she did it with theoretical formulations that explained how it came about and why and how it must and will change… Her work addresses the issues still current today of how to resolve the tension between love and work, intimacy and autonomy. Gilman created the rudiments of a theory of gender” (ANB). Women and Economics was proclaimed “a masterpiece” by Jane Addams and called “the only real contribution to economics ever made by a woman” by Florence Kelley. “Gilman was much lionized as the author of Women and Economics and, thus, the leading intellectual in the United States’ women’s-rights movement” (Showalter, et al., 104). While Gilman is also famous for her tale, The Yellow Wall-paper (1892), “a riveting Gothic, Poe-like tale of Victorian marrige and madness,… in her lifetime Women and Economics was easily her most acclaimed work” (Allen, Feminism of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 21).