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Red Virgin, Red Virgin, 0817300635, 0-8173-0063-5, 978-0-8173-0063-0, 9780817300630, , , Red Virgin, 0817380949, 0-8173-8094-9, 978-0-8173-8094-6, 9780817380946,

Red Virgin
Memoirs Of Louise Michel
Louise Michel, edited and translated by Bullitt Lowry and Elizabeth Gunter

Quality Paper
2003. 240 pp.
Price:  $32.95 s
E Book
2007. 240 pp.
Price:  $32.95 d


Louise Michel was born illegitimate in 1830 and became a schoolmistress in Paris. She was involved in radical activities during the twilight of France’s Second Empire, and during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the siege of Paris. She was a leading member of the revolutionary groups controlling Montmarte. Michel emerged as one of the leaders of the insurrection during the Paris Commune of March-May 1871; and French anarchists saw her as martyr and saint – The Red Virgin. When the Versailles government crushed the Commune in May 1871, Michel was sentenced to exile in New Caledonia, until the general amnesty of 1880, when she returned to France and great popular acclaim and support from the working people of the country. Michel was arrested again during a demonstration in Paris in 1883 and sentenced to six years in prison. Pardoned after three years, she continued her speeches and writing, although she spent the greater part of her time from 1890 until her death in 1905 in England in self-imposed exile. It was during her prison term from 1883 to 1886 that she compiled her Memoires, now available in English.
            These memoirs offer readers a view of the non-Marxist left and give an in-depth look into the development of the revolutionary spirit. The early chapters treat her childhood, the development of her revolutionary feelings, and her training as a schoolteacher. The next section describes her activities as a schoolteacher in the Haute-Marne and Paris and therefore contains much of interest on education in 19th-century Europe. Her chapters on the siege of Paris, the Commune, and her first trial show those events from the point of view of a major participant. Of particular interest is a chapter on women’s rights, which Michel saw as part of the search for the rights of all people, male and female, and not as a separate struggle.
            The Red Virgin: Memoirs of Louise Michel will be useful to both scholars and students of 19th-century French history and women’s studies.


Bullitt Lowry, associate professor of history, and Elizabeth Ellington Gunter, instructor of English, both teach at North Texas State University.


“An excellent translation of the edited memoirs of one of the 19th century’s most colorful anarchists and feminists.
            “A staunch enemy of Louis Napoleon’s Second Empire and of the opportunist Third Republic that followed, Michel tells of her part in the Communard Revolt, describes her subsequent deportation to and life in New Caledonia, and recounts highlights of her stormy career in France after amnesty of 1880. She tells her story with a zeal and dedication to a cause worthy of the true revolutionary she was.” – Choice


“A welcome addition to literature on 19th century feminism and the Paris Commune of 1871 [and] a sensitive and sensible translation.
            “This volume, with its helpful introductory and bibliographical notes, should become a standard source in women’s history.” – Nineteenth Century French Studies


“The most important woman to emerge from the Paris Commune of 1871, an associate of Jules Guesde, Prince Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, and Paul Lafargue, and a long-time friend of Victor Hugo, Michel is one of those curious personalities who are well heralded by historians but not really well known. . . . The appearance of this translated and edited edition of her memoirs should be welcomed by psychobiographers, students of radical movements, and those interested in the history of achieving women.” – Journal of Psychohistory


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