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Dora Marsden, a renegade suffragette who would radicalize Ezra Pound and publish James Joyce's first novel

No one exemplified the interchange between radical politics and art more than Dora Marsden, a renegade suffragette who would radicalize Ezra Pound and publish James Joyce's first novel. In 1909, Marsden led a march of thirty women to Parliament and was charged with assaulting a police officer by hitting him with her banner (she claimed it was an accident). After spending a month in jail, Marsden broke up a Liberal Party meeting by throwing iron balls through a glass partition. That earned her two more months in prison, where she went on a hunger strike, smashed her cell windows and tore off her prison clothes to protest naked. When the guards forced her into a straitjacket, Dora Marsden, at four foot ten, squirmed her way out.

Liberal Party meetings routinely became suffragist protest sites. When a young Winston Churchill addressed an audience in Southport in 1909, police officers surrounded the hall so that Churchill could rally support for a budget bill that the House of Lords vetoed. When he argued that the Lords should acquiesce to the House of Commons because it represented the will of the electorate, a voice shouted out from a ceiling porthole, "But it does not represent the women, Mr. Churchill!" The audience flew in an uproar. Dora Marsden had eluded the tight security by hiding in the hall's attic space the previous day and waiting through a night of rain and freezing temperatures. After haranguing Churchill for several minutes, Marsden and two accomplices were dragged off the roof and arrested.

She decided to expand the feminist movement beyond politics altogether by starting a magazine called The Freewoman, which she later renamed to The Egoist. During her tenure as editor of The Egoist, she published a serialization of James Joyce's groundbreaking first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which helped Joyce find avid supporters, which in turn helped him secure small institutional grants. The grants gave Joyce time to write Ulysses and to frequent cafes and restaurants, where he drank regularly with a small group of international refugees who called themselves the "Club des Étrangers".


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