Fettered for Life
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  • Paperback Edition
  • ISBN: 978-1-55861-554-0
  • Publication Date: 09-05-2000
  • Page Count: 436
  • Categories: Fiction
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LILLIE DEVEREUX BLAKE (1833-1913) was a fiction writer, essayist, journalist, lecturer, and activist. She was a prominent organizer for the women's suffrage movement and was instrumental in the founding of Barnard College.

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Fettered for Life

Lillie Devereux Blake

Afterword by Grace Farrell

First published in 1874, Fettered for Life is both a page-turning melodrama and a classic of subversive literature. As young Laura Stanley struggles to make her way independently in New York City, she faces prejudices, limitations, and dangers based on her gender. She also encounters a colorful cast of villains and heroes representing a cross-section of New York society: a vile and corrupt judge, a working-class wife-batterer, a suffragist woman doctor, a gutsy washer-woman, a female crossdresser, and the young man who must accept Laura as an equal before he can win her love.

"The message of Blake's 1874 novel is simple and comprehensive: that women of all classes are denied voice, useful and well-paid work, public protection, the vote and even life itself. . . . Impressive is the range of female types and number of interconnecting plots by which Blake relentlessly expresses this message."


"An outstanding nineteenth-century women's novel found!"

—Susan Gubar, Distinguished Professor of English and Women's Studies, Indiana University, and co-author of The Madwoman in the Attic

"Fettered for Life combines a compelling plot line with a passionate, and amazingly contemporary view of men's oppression of women. . . . [It is] both totally absorbing and strikingly relevant."

—Jane Tompkins, professor of English, Duke University, and author of Sensational Designs

"The action never falters in this entertaining novel, but as the heroine undergoes her series of adventures, the author raises penetrating questions about the wide range of social and political forces that limited the freedom of American women."

—Alfred Bendixon, professor of English, California State University, Los Angeles

"Fettered for Life is the most comprehensive women's rights novel of the nineteenth century. It should be required reading for anyone interested in women's studies and, more generally, in American cultural history."

—David S. Reynolds, distinguished professor of English and American studies, CUNY, and author of Beneath the American Renaissance

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