Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

'Political…Civil and Domestic Slavery’: Harriet Taylor Mill and Anna Wheeler on Marriage, Servitude, and Socialism

McCabe, Helen


Helen McCabe


Harriet Taylor Mill and Anna Wheeler are two 19th century British feminists generally over-shadowed by the fame of the men with whom they co-authored (respectively John Stuart Mill and William Thompson). Yet both made important, and interesting, contributions to political thought, particularly regarding deconstruction of the patriarchal institution of marriage; and the current property regime which – they believed – in dominating workers, unfairly distributing the product of labour, and encouraging ‘individualism’ did little to maximise the general happiness. Both were feminists, utilitarians, and socialists. How they link these three core elements is both interestingly similar, and interestingly different. This article has four aims. Firstly, to make a strong claim concerning their authorial hand in works often considered to be solely the work of their male co-author. Secondly, to sketch those co-authoring relationships, and consider whether Taylor Mill and Stuart Mill may even have consciously constructed their early letters On Marriage on what they knew of Thompson and Wheeler’s relationship. Thirdly, to map out their shared, though not identical, claim that marriage was a form of slavery, and the proposals they offered to free women from the domination of patriarchal relationships. Fourthly, to explore the way in which both thought female emancipation would be most truly realised via cooperative socialism.

Journal Article Type Article
Print ISSN 0960-8788
Electronic ISSN 1469-3526
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation McCabe, H. 'Political…Civil and Domestic Slavery’: Harriet Taylor Mill and Anna Wheeler on Marriage, Servitude, and Socialism. Manuscript submitted for publication