E. Belfort Bax


The Fraud of Feminism

Note by Transcriber

Ted Crawford

The Fraud of Feminism can be regarded as an unconsciously very funny book – or alternatively as a monstrous monument to male chauvinism. To be fair, many of the court reports of which Bax speaks were appalling examples of British injustice though the weird beliefs of the many medical men that he adduces merely says something of the scientific status of medicine at the time. And it must always be remembered how splendid was the line that Bax took on the imperialism, colonialism and racism in the 1890’ties, let alone religion where he speaks great sense to us still. However when looking at his diatribes against females some might like to know what EBB’s own personal life and attitude to women were. In so far as one of those outside the family can tell, the facts were these.

His first marriage was to Emily Gordon Wright, daughter of James Wright, merchant, on 20 August1877 at Upper Brook Street Chapel, Charlton, Hulme, in presence of Alfred Ridley Bax and Ada Mary Wright. He is described as gentleman. In between November 1878 and June 1886 she had seven children which may have been normal for the time but was by no means normal for an “advanced” socialist when English Trade Unionists could describe themselves on public platforms as “practical Malthusians”. At any rate she was treated as a baby making machine and appears to have had some form of nervous breakdown some time after the birth of her youngest child. She died a lonely individual 23 April 1893 at 12 Albert Place, Cheltenham without any members of her family present. Her death certificate says she was 40 which from the register of births, marriages and deaths seems correct though one of her sons, when cited by Cowley in EBB’s biography, says 34. That may be the age she had her breakdown when she left her children and was dead to them.

He married again 15 November 1897 at the Registry Office in the City of London, where he is described as widower, barrister, aged 43, Maria Johanna Cecilia Henneberg, a German spinster aged 41, a daughter of a physician. He had no children by her and they died within a few hours of one another in 1925. His biography mentions his marriage to his first wife once and there are three other mentions of his second but only in passing and he never mentions the name of either. His four sons were all professionally educated though none of the three daughters seem to have been and his eldest daughter, Elsa, unmarried, died in London in 1905 like her mother without a member of her family in attendance. The remaining two have been referred to as “two sad old aunts”. Again this matter of female education, or lack of it, was not so unusual for the time but was unusual among those, like Bax, of “advanced” views and middle class incomes. At his death however his will divides his property equally among all his children in the old Quaker manner save for his books which were left to the boys. Girls after all had smaller brains.

So he seems to have been consistent.


Last updated on 26.7.2005