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180 THE NEW. FREEWQMANî A SHORT STORY OF LITERARY JOURNALISM By Louis K. MacKendrick (University of Windsor) The New Freewoman was the unemphatic title of a short-lived little magazine whose role in the British literary periodical movement of the early twentieth century has been generally overlooked. Its successor, the Egoist (191^-1919)» is better known, for it printed the poetry of William Carlos Williams, the Imagists, and Marianne Moore, the work of Ezra Pound, the first novels of James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis, and the early criticism of its last editor, T. S. Eliot. The Egoist also gave rise to a small but influential press with an impressive list of releases; these included Eliot's Prufrock and Other Observations, the "Poet's Translation Series," Pound's Quia Pauper Amavi. Miss Moore's Poems. Lewis's Tarr, and editions of all of Joyce·s work before Pomes Penveach. However, the Egoist's approach and philosophy were firmly rooted in its predecessor, and a brief description of the New Freewoman will suggest its contribution of the literary developments of its time. The New Freewoman appeared in thirteen twenty-page fortnightly issues between 15 June and 15 December 1913» in optimistic runs of 2,000 copies.1 It was edited by Dora Marsden, an ardent feminist who had severed her connection with the Women's Social and Political Union to begin a weekly called the Freewoman (November 1911-October 1912). Miss Marsden believed in female sexual freedom, or self-determination , and deplored the rhetorical extravagancies of suffragism; consequently, her paper excited a good deal of attention and controversy in Britain and America - so much so that the Freewoman's prime distributor eventually boycotted it. Though aggressive and iconoclastic , the paper was never in a strong financial position, and was discontinued when its publisher appropriated various monies and fled from England. In June, 1913, the Freewoman was reconstituted as the New Freewoman because of the zeal of the "Freewoman Discussion Circle," a group of feminist allies and former readers who attended lectures on sociosexual topics. The new sixpenny journal, which appeared from Oakley House on Bloomsbury St., paces from the British Museum, was owned and published by the New Freewoman Ltd., a minute company in which Harriet Shaw Weaver was the major stockholder. Miss Weaver, of a well-to-do Cheshire family, had been a reader of the Freewoman; after its failure she had corresponded with Dora Marsden about possible continuation, and had contributed to a re-establishment fund.2 Largely under Miss Weaver's financial management the New Freewoman, subtitled "An Individualist Review," began its short career with the issue of 15 June 1913· The journal was briefly co-edited by Rebecca West, an incisive reviewer for the defunct Freewoman. while Miss Weaver encouraged the copy of the unusually 181 dilatory editor. (Her experience in this venture was invaluable when che became the financial power behind the Egoist as well as Joyce's work on Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.) At first, the New Freewoman was a bloodless echo of the Freewoman as it continued the earlier paper's interests in the social and economic potential of women. No intimation of any forthcoming literary emphasis was apparent in articles on such subjects as labor unrest in California, free love, the belief in personal immortality, the etiquette of dying, and the history of the ancient social transfer from matriarchy to patriarchy. Miss Marsden contributed editorials and "Views and Comments" to each early number; her enthusiasms and aversions included the emptiness of abstract concepts, property, Causes, intellect and culture, women's misuse of their sexual power, and people's unwillingness to manage their own lives. First-hand expex-ience with militant suffragism prompted much of Miss Marsden·s philosophical approach, particularly the side devoted to the individual's surrender of his prerogatives to any institution, mob, or ideology. A. R. Orage-s New Age welcomed Miss Marsden*s venture, allowing that the Freewoman-cum-New Freewoman had made "a lively enough resurrection"j the paper was "less hungry-sounding than of yore," though it contained "a great deal of cackle."3 Before the New Freewoman became almost exclusively literary with the fifth number, its other...


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pp. 180-188
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