Emma Goldman  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Emma Goldman (June 27 1869May 14 1940) was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches. She was lionized as a free-thinking "rebel woman" by admirers, and derided as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution by her critics.

Born in Kaunas, Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire), to an Orthodox Jewish family, Goldman suffered from a violent relationship with her father. Although she attended schools in Königsberg, her father refused to allow her further education when the family moved to St. Petersburg. Still, she read voraciously and educated herself about the politics of her time. She moved with her sister Helena to Rochester, New York, in the United States at the age of sixteen. Married briefly in 1887, she divorced her husband and moved to New York City. Attracted to anarchism after the Haymarket affair, Goldman was trained by Johann Most in public speaking and became a renowned lecturer, attracting crowds of thousands. The writer and anarchist Alexander Berkman became her lover, lifelong intimate friend, and comrade. Together they planned to assassinate Henry Clay Frick as an act of propaganda of the deed. Though Frick survived the attempt on his life, Berkman was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. Goldman herself was imprisoned several times in the years that followed, for "inciting to riot" and illegally distributing information about birth control. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth.

In 1917, Goldman and Berkman were sentenced to two years in jail for conspiring to "induce persons not to register" for the newly instated draft. After their release from prison, they were arrested – with hundreds of others – and deported to Russia. Initially supportive of that country's Bolshevik revolution, Goldman quickly voiced her opposition to the Soviet use of violence and the repression of independent voices. In 1923, she wrote a book about her experiences, My Disillusionment in Russia. While living in England, Canada, and France, she wrote an autobiography called Living My Life, and eventually traveled to Spain to participate in that nation's civil war. She died in Toronto on 14 May 1940.

Goldman played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in the United States and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Although she distanced herself from first-wave feminism and its efforts toward women's suffrage, she developed new ways of incorporating gender politics into anarchism. She spoke and wrote on a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, and free love. After decades of obscurity, Goldman's iconic status was revived in the 1970s, when feminist and anarchist scholars rekindled popular interest in her life.

Books by Goldman

Edited collections

  • Red Emma Speaks: Selected Writings and Speeches. New York: Random House, 1972. ISBN 0-394-47095-8
  • Emma Goldman: A Documentary History Of The American Years, Volume 1 - Made for America, 1890-1901. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. ISBN 0-520-08670-8.
  • Emma Goldman: A Documentary History Of The American Years, Volume 2 - Making Speech Free, 1902-1909. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. ISBN 0-520-22569-4.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Emma Goldman" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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