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Josephine Butler (1828–1906) was an English feminist and social reformer in the Victorian era. She was especially concerned with the welfare of prostitutes although she campaigned on a broad range of women's rights. In 1864 her daughter Eva fell 40 feet (12 m) from the top-floor bannister onto the stone floor of the hallway in her home; she died three hours later.[1] The death led Butler to begin a career of campaigning that ran until the end of her life; she later wrote that after the death she "became possessed with an irresistible urge to go forth and find some pain keener than my own, to meet with people more unhappy than myself. ... It was not difficult to find misery in Liverpool."[2] Her targets included obtaining the vote, the right to better education and the end of coverture in British law, although she achieved her greatest success in leading the movement to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts, legislation that attempted to control the spread of venereal diseases, particularly in the British Army and Royal Navy. She was also opposed to the forced medical examination of prostitutes—a process she described as "surgical" or "steel rape".[3][4] Her campaigning led to the suspension of the practice in April 1883, and the Acts were formally repealed in three years later.[5]

Butler's first full-length publication was Memoir of John Grey of Dilston, detailing the life of her father, John Grey, which she wrote following his death.[6] She also wrote a monograph of her husband George in 1892 after his death two years previously.[7] In 1878 Butler published a third biography, this time of Catharine of Siena, which Glen Petrie—Butler's biographer—wrote was probably her best work.[8] Another historian, Judith Walkowitz, considers the work as providing Butler with a "historical justification for her own political activism".[4] Over a period of at least 40 years Butler wrote over 90 books and pamphlets, mostly in support of her campaigning work; because of her campaigning on mainland Europe, some of Butler's works—based on her speeches—were written in French and German, and were published in France, Germany and Switzerland.[4][9]



Butler wrote a biography of her husband George (pictured) after his death.[4]
Title[10][11] Year of first
First edition publisher
Memoir of John Grey of Dilston 1869 Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas
The Constitution Violated 1871 Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas
Une voix dans le desert 1875 Paris: Sandoz et Fischbacher
The Hour Before the Dawn 1876 London: Trubner and Co
Catharine of Siena 1878 London: Dyer Bros
Social Purity 1879 London: Morgan & Scott
The Salvation Army in Switzerland 1883 London: Dyer Bros
Life of J F Oberlin 1883 London: Religious Tract Society
The Bright Side of the Question 1883 Bristol: J. W. Arrowsmith
Rebecca Jarrett 1885 London: Morgan & Scott
Recollections of George Butler 1892 Bristol: J. W. Arrowsmith
Personal Reminiscences of a Great Crusade 1896 London: Horace Marshall
Truth Before Everything 1898 London: Dyer Bros
Prophets and Prophetesses 1898 London: Dyer Bros
Native Races and the War 1900 London: Gay & Bird
In Memoriam, Harriet Meuricoffre 1901 London: Horace Marshall


Bust of Butler in 1865 by Alexander Munro
Title[12][13] Year of first
First edition publisher Notes
Women's Work and Women's Culture 1869 London: Macmillan Introduction only
"The Paris of Regulated Vice" 1877 London: Methodist Protest Newspaper article
The Dawn 1888 London: Burfoot Quarterly publication; Butler wrote for The Dawn between 1888 and 1896
"Woman's Place in Church Work" 1892 London: Review of the Churches Newspaper article
"Letter to Conference in London" 1897 London: The Shield Newspaper article
The Storm-Bell 1898 London: Burfoot Monthly publication; Butler wrote for The Storm-Bell between 1898 and 1900
"Receiving" 1900 London: Wings Newspaper article
"Reflexíons sur la Federation" 1902 Revue du Christianisme Social Newspaper article


Butler, painted by George Richmond in 1851
Title[11][13][14] Year of first
First edition publisher
"The Education and Employment of Women" 1868 London: Macmillan
"An Appeal to the People of England on the Recognition and Superintendence of Prostitution by Governments"[a] 1870 Nottingham: Banks
"On the Moral Reclaimability of Prostitutes" 1870 London: The National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts
"The Duty of Women in Relation to Our Great Social Evil, and Recent Legislation Thereupon" 1870 Carlisle: Hudson Scott
"Sursum Corda: Annual Address to the Ladies' National Association" 1871 Liverpool: Brakell
"The Constitutional Iniquity of the Contagious Diseases Acts of 1866 and 69" 1871 London: The National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts
"Address Delivered in Craigie Hall" 1871 Manchester: A Ireland & Co
"Address Delivered at Croydon" 1871 London: The National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts
"Vox Populi" 1871 Liverpool: Brakell
"Letter to my Countrywomen, Dwelling in the Farmsteads and Cottages of England" 1871 Manchester: A Ireland & Co
"Letter to the Order of Good Templars" 1871 Liverpool: Brakell
"The New Era: Containing a Retrospect of the History of the Regulation System in Berlin" 1872 Liverpool: Brakell
"On the Subject of Mr. Bruce's Bill" 1872 Liverpool: Brakell
"A Few Words Addressed to True-Hearted Women" 1872 Liverpool: Brakell
"Letter to a Friend on a Recent Division in the House of Commons" 1873 Liverpool: Brakell
"Legislative Restrictions on the Industry of Women, Considered From the Women's Point of View" 1873 London: Personal Rights Association
"Some Thoughts on the Present Aspect of the Crusade Against the State Regulation of Vice" 1874 Liverpool: Brakell
"Speech at Bristol to the Vigilance Association" 1874 London: F Bell & Co
"A Letter to the Members of the Ladies' National Association" 1875 Liverpool: Brakell
"State Regulation of Vice" 1876 Hull
"The New Abolitionists" 1876 London: Dyer Bros
"Adieux a Genève" 1877 Geneva
"Discours prononcé a l'hôtel Wagram" 1877 Paris
"Discours prononcé dans la Salle de la rue d' Arras" 1877 Paris
"Discours prononcé dans la Chapelle Malesherbes" 1877 Paris
"Discours prononcé dans la Salle de la Redonte" 1877 Paris
"Ceux qui prient" 1878 Paris
"Government by Police" 1879 London: Dyer Bros
"Souvenir des réunions à Vevey" 1879 Fontaines
"Depositions Regarding Treatment of English Girls in Immoral Houses in Brussels" 1880 Private[b]
"Extrait d'une lettre a I'occasion des investigations de M.X. & Bruxelles" 1880 Neuchâtel
"Discours au Congrès de Génes: La traite des blanches" 1880 Paris
"Discours au Congrès de Génes: Des lois sur le vagabondage" 1880 Paris
"Discours au Congrès de Génes: La provocation" 1880 Paris
"Discours prononcé à l'issue du Congrès de Génes" 1880 Paris
"Address at Tenth Anniversary of L.N.A." 1880 Liverpool: Brakell
"A Call to Action" 1881 Birmingham: Hudson
"Address at the Conference of Women at Geneva" 1881 London: Hazell, Watson and Viney
"Letter to the Mothers of England" 1881 Liverpool: Brakell
"Lettre d'une Mère" 1881 Neuchâtel
"Lettre à ses amis et compagnons d'auvre" 1882 Neuchâtel
"Allocution dans la séance d'ouverture de la Conférence de Neuchâtel" 1882 Neuchâtel
"Allocution à la Chapelle de la Place d'Armes" 1882 Neuchâtel
"Discours d'Adieux a la Conference de Neuchâtel" 1882 Neuchâtel
"Dangers of Constructive Legislation in Matters of Purity" 1883 Bristol: Arrowsmith
"The Bright Side of the Question" 1883 Bristol: Arrowsmith
"Questions morales" 1883 Lausanne
"Appel aux dames présentes au Congrès de La Haye" 1883 Neuchâtel
"Discours dans la sèance d'ouverture du Congrès de La Haye" 1883 Neuchâtel
"Le point du jour" 1883 Neuchâtel
"Allocution aux femmes de Gènes" 1883 Neuchâtel
"The Principles of the Abolitionists" 1885 London: Dyer Bros
"The Work of the Federation" 1885 London: International Abolitionist Federation
"Marion, histoire veritable" 1885 Neuchâtel
"L'œuvre du relèvement moral: Discours prononcé à Naples" 1886 Geneva
"Our Christianity Tested by the Irish Question" 1887 London: T. Fisher Unwin
"The Revival and Extension of the Abolitionist Cause" 1887 Winchester: Doswell
"Letter to International Convention of Women at Washington" 1888 London: Morgan & Scott
"Zwei Vortrage uber das staatlich regulierte Laster" 1888 Mülheim
"Letter to World's Women's Christian Temperance Union" 1892 Bristol
"St. Agnes" 1893 London: J Cox
"The Present Aspect of the Abolitionist Cause in Relation to British India" 1893 London: International Abolitionist Federation
"The Lady of Shunem" 1894 London: Horace Marshall
"The Constitutional Iniquity" 1895 London: International Abolitionist Federation
"Lettre a Madame Duplan" 1895 Lausanne
"Two Letters of Earnest Appeal and Warning" 1895 London: International Abolitionist Federation
"A Doomed Iniquity" 1896 London: International Abolitionist Federation
"Address to the L.N.A." 1896 Bristol: Arrowsmith
"Lettre a une ami sur la lutte contre la reglementation dans I'Inde" 1897
"Some Lessons from Contemporary History" 1898 London: Friends' Association
"Silent Victories" 1900 London: Burfoot
"L'emancipation telle que je l'ai apprise" 1900 Neuchâtel
"La cause de la femme et I'avenir du foyer" 1900 Geneva
"Souvenirs humblement recommandes aux amis de la femme reunis a Paris" 1900 Geneva
"The Morning Cometh"[c] 1903 Newcastle: Grierson
"Lettre aux Membres de la Commission administrative de la Federation" 1904

Notes and referencesEdit


  1. ^ Published under the pseudonym "by an English Mother"[15]
  2. ^ Printed for private circulation only[16]
  3. ^ Published under the pseudonym Philalethes[17]


  1. ^ Mathers 2014, pp. 45–46.
  2. ^ Butler 1892, p. 183.
  3. ^ Summers 1999, p. 1.
  4. ^ a b c d Walkowitz 2004.
  5. ^ Jordan 2001, pp. 213–15; Mathers 2014, pp. 141–43.
  6. ^ Jordan 2001, p. 89.
  7. ^ Jordan 2001, p. 259.
  8. ^ Petrie 1971, p. 185.
  9. ^ Mathers 2014, p. 117.
  10. ^ Boyd 1982, pp. 267–68.
  11. ^ a b Butler 1909, pp. 314–18.
  12. ^ Butler 1909, pp. 315–17.
  13. ^ a b Petrie 1971, pp. 291–93.
  14. ^ Fawcett & Turner 1927, pp. 154–55.
  15. ^ Daggers & Neal 2006, p. 51.
  16. ^ Petrie 1971, p. 292.
  17. ^ Butler 1909, p. 317.


  • Boyd, Nancy (1982). Three Victorian Women Who Changed Their World: Josephine Butler, Octavia Hill, Florence Nightingale. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-333-30057-2.
  • Butler, Josephine (1892). Recollections of George Butler. Bristol: J W Arrowsmith. OCLC 315370873.
  • Daggers, Jenny; Neal, Diana, eds. (2006). Sex, Gender, and Religion: Josephine Butler Revisited. New York: Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0-8204-8117-3.
  • Butler, Josephine (1909). Johnson, George William; Johnson, Lucy A. Nutter (eds.). Josephine E. Butler: an autobiographical memoir. Bristol: J W Arrowsmith. OCLC 15558901.
  • Fawcett, Millicent; Turner, E M (1927). Josephine Butler: Her Work and Principles, and Their Meaning for the Twentieth Century. London: Association for Moral & Social Hygiene. OCLC 1252742.
  • Jordan, Jane (2001). Josephine Butler. London: Hambledon Continuum. ISBN 978-1-84725-045-2.
  • Mathers, Helen (2014). Patron Saint of Prostitutes: Josephine Butler and the Victorian Sex Scandal. Stroud, Glos: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-9209-4.
  • Petrie, Glen (1971). Singular Iniquity: Campaigns of Josephine Butler. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-11662-3.
  • Summers, Anne (Autumn 1999). "'The Constitution Violated': The Female Body and the Female Subject in the Campaigns of Josephine Butler". History Workshop Journal (48): 1–15. JSTOR 4289632.
  • Walkowitz, Judith R (2004). "Butler, Josephine Elizabeth (1828–1906)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32214. Retrieved 2 June 2016. (subscription or UK public library membership required)