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Stella Browne

Not a domestic utensil, but a woman and a citizen' (1917) Stella Browne Photo

Stella Browne in 1938

'I have never met the normal woman' (1938)



Frances Worsley Stella Browne (1880-1955), feminist, socialist, sex radical, campaigner for women's rights to reproductive control. I first came across Stella when cataloguing the archives of the Abortion Law Reform Association, of which she was an inspirer and founder. I was further intrigued by Sheila Rowbotham's brief essay, A New World for Women (1977). In the course of unrelated researches I found Stella cropping up again and again. Much of the material I encountered had not been available when Rowbotham was writing; this, plus the further leads I came across, persuaded me that a fuller biography was a distinct possibility. While gathering material and looking for a publisher, I deployed the fruits of my researches in a number of papers, published or forthcoming, and unpublished.

The Life and Times of Stella Browne: feminist and free spirit, now out, from IB Tauris
'A rigorous work of scholarship and an astute evocative account of an inspiring fighter for birth control, abortion and sexual freedom'. (Sheila Rowbotham)
'an innovative and enthralling history of the struggle for sex reform in the first half of the twentieth century as seen from the trenches' (Angus McLaren)
A brief taste of Stella Browne's fascinating life, thought, and political activities and Stella Browne feminist, free spirit and pro-choice godmother

Reviews in The Guardian, THE Times Higher Education, and Women's History Review (paywall/subscription only), at MadamJ-Mo's blog (she also gave it 4 stars on Amazon) and blogs.lse.ac.uk, The Feminist Library, Socialist World, plus a short notice in Labour Research.

This LSE Review of Books podcast 'Gender and Feminism includes an interview with me about Stella.


Some of Stella Browne's writings

My published/forthcoming papers on Stella

Plus texts of two unpublished, somewhat informal papers intended for verbal delivery

'Stella and her Friends' given at a conference on Women and Friendship at the Centre for Women's Studies, University of York, April 1995 'Desperately Seeking Stella' given at a meeting of the London Women's History Network, January 1996.

Citing Electronic Resources
Useful information

Literary abortion:
references to abortion in literary texts, mainly but not all from the UK, several during the period when Stella Browne was campaigning for law reform

Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution
August 7-8, 2014, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada

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Last Updated 10 September 2014 by Lesley Hall