Voltairine de Cleyre

Voltairine de Cleyre (November 17, 1866 – June 20, 1912)[1] was an American anarchist known for being a prolific writer and speaker who opposed capitalism, marriage[2] and the state as well as the domination of religion over sexuality and women's lives which she saw as all interconnected. She is often characterized as a major early feminist because of her views.[3]

Voltairine de Cleyre
Voltairine de Cleyre in Philadelphia, 1901
Born(1866-11-17)November 17, 1866
DiedJune 20, 1912(1912-06-20) (aged 45)
St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital in Chicago, Illinois
OccupationWriter, lecturer, tutor

Born and raised in small towns in Michigan and schooled in a Sarnia, Ontario, Catholic convent, de Cleyre began her activist career in the freethought movement. Although she was initially drawn to individualist anarchism, de Cleyre evolved through mutualism to what she called anarchism without adjectives, prioritizing a stateless society without the use of aggression or coercion above all else.

De Cleyre was a contemporary of Emma Goldman, with whom she maintained a relationship of respectful disagreement on many issues. Many of de Cleyre's essays were collected in the Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre, published posthumously by Goldman's magazine Mother Earth in 1914.


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