[Feminism] letters from Marie Goegg to [André Léo]

Geneva and Thiergarten
June 17 & July 22, 1869
Condition : A
Reference : 261-2

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Set of two autograph letters signed to [André Léo, Victoire Léodile Béra dite](1), Geneva and Thiergarten, June 17 and July 22, 1869. 6 pp. in-8, one of which with embossed letterhead of the "Association internationale des femmes". Slight traces of tab on both letters, two very slight tears at the bottom of the letter of July 22, without affecting the text. 

On June 17, she begins her letter with an apology because "I was hoping from day to day to be able to give you positive news about the arrival of the book that you were kind enough to send me(2). Unfortunately my expectation has been in vain and I am very much afraid that it will be prolonged indefinitely [...]" she continues "I am all the more anxious to read it as your letter gives me the proof. That you embrace all advanced questions, and that I am happy to find in you a valuable support for your 'International Women's Association.'" She quotes passages of the letter of her correspondent and insists on certain points "It is very necessary that the women who think rally all around the common goal and leave aside the petty spirit which hinders all the noble efforts" she continues by estimating that to fight against the dissentions it would be to integrate her association which has for vocation "to join together and to confuse the particular interests to rise above the parties and the personalities [...]".

A little more than a month passed between the letter mentioned below and the one of July 22, Marie Goegg received the book in the meantime.
Having left for Germany she writes "[...] for the moments of real pleasure I had, seeing how many ideas we had in common. I do not mean to say, however, that we agree in all things; on the contrary, there are very marked nuances in our mutual desire for progress, but apart from this diversity [...] which is probably due to the environment in which we both live, we agree on all the main points and on the substance of things, and I admire the lucidity of observation with which you approach and treat all subjects." She then insists on the interest of the newspapers for her work "[...] when I opened the n° 15 [magazine le Droit des Femmes](3) (my husband sends me all my letters and newspapers) I saw with pleasure that Mrs. Angélique Arnaud(4) had taken her as the subject of one of her articles. the way in which the account is given did not satisfy me and the sound judgment that I admired [...]" she is surprised that Angélique Arnaud is noted "the homage paid to the Duchess of Orleans [...] and continues "you proclaim highly that the true happy solution is found in the universal republic! [Let us create a new society from which disdain and exclusivism are banished and which is based instead on complete justice and benevolence towards all creatures. [...]"

(1) André Léo (1824-1900) writer, feminist and socialist activist, member of the Communarde. She published many works including La femme et les moeurs, Liberté ou Monarchie (1869). She founded with Benoit Malon and the Reclus brothers the newspaper, La République des Travailleurs (1871).
(2) La femme et les moeurs, Liberté ou Monarchie (1869).
(3) Droit des Femmes, weekly published from 1869 to 1891, then under the name of L'Avenir des femmes from 1871 to 1879. 
(4) Angélique Arnaud (1797-1884) French writer, journalist and feminist. She wrote in different newspapers about liberal and republican causes. She defended the causes of feminism, socialism and Saint-Simonism. Her progressive novels are very popular with the female public.
She was an active member of the Society for the Improvement of the Status of Women and wrote for the feminist press: Droit des femmes, L'Avenir des femmes, Opinion des femmes, Opinion nationale, La Femme and La Solidarité. ...


Marie was born in Geneva in 1826 and was a leading feminist and abolitionist.

She was known for her commitment to pacifism and was at the origin of the Journal des femmes (first Swiss feminist newspaper). In 1869, she gave a speech in favor of equality between men and women. Thanks to her petition for women's access to university education, the Geneva Grand Council voted a law on equal conditions of access to university in 1872. In 1896 she founded one of the first international women's organizations.

A pioneer of women's rights in Switzerland, her ideas and struggles went beyond the Swiss borders.