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The geneticist Barbara McClintock once said of her research, I was just so interested in what I was doing I could hardly wait to get up in the morning and get at it. One of my friends, a geneticist, said I was a child, because only children can't wait to get up in the morning to get at what they want to do.

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Jul 22, 2024

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About Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 - May 14, 1940) was a Lithuanian-born 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 the province of Kaunas 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 quickly thereafter and moved to New York City. Attracted to anarchism after the Haymarket Riot, Goldman was trained by Johann Most in public speaking and became a renowned lecturer, attracting crowds of thousands. She also became lovers with Alexander Berkman, who became her lifelong intimate friend and comrade. Together they planned to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, as an act of propaganda of the deed. Though Frick survived, 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. Goldman also published an anarchist journal called Mother Earth .

In 1917 Goldman and Berkman were sentenced to two years' jail time for conspiring to "induce persons not to register" for the newly-instated draft. After their release from prison, the pair was 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 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 about her life.

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