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Sexual ProgressivesReimagining Intimacy in Scotland, 1880-1914$
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Tanya Cheadle

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526125255

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526125262

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Deeds of daring rectitude

Deeds of daring rectitude

Chapter:
(p.156) 5 Deeds of daring rectitude
Source:
Sexual Progressives
Author(s):

Tanya Cheadle

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7765/9781526125262.00010

This chapter provides the first detailed analysis of the life and work of Edinburgh feminist freethinker Jane Hume Clapperton. Born into a wealthy and respectable mercantile family, her route to radicalism was via secularism, becoming acquainted with its tenets through the Congregationalist minister James Cranbrook in Edinburgh, and the ribbon manufacturer Charles Bray in Coventry. In a series of works, including a major treatise on social reform, Scientific Meliorism and the Evolution of Happiness (1885), and a utopian novel, Margaret Dunmore: Or A Socialist Home (1888), Clapperton drew on freethought’s feminist and libertarian views on sex to develop a new moral code based on the twin pillars of birth control and women’s right to sexual pleasure. This chapter argues that her explicit engagement with such issues establishes Clapperton as a radical, early voice within sexual progressive thought. Yet, like other feminists and socialists of this period, she maintained a boundary between her public discourse and intimate life, running her relationship with her closest friend, the neo-Malthusian George Gaskell, upon respectable lines.

Keywords:   Jane Hume Clapperton, birth control, sexual pleasure, feminist freethought, secularism, socialism, eugenics, neo-Malthusianism, Scientific Meliorism, Margaret Dunmore

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