Marie Stopes PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 10:20

Marie Carmichael Stopes, D.Sc., Ph.D.

Born: 15 October 1880

Died: 2 October 1958, Dorking, Surrey.

Age: 77

Cause of death: Breast cancer

Notable because: Activist for women's rights - becoming a target for the Church through her work in empowering women. Accused of being a Eugenicist and anti-semite. Opened first UK Family planning clinic in 1921. Played a major role in breaking down taboos about sex that bound many in ignorance.

Marie Stopes was a Scottish author, palaeobotanist, campaigner for women's rights and pioneer in the field of family planning. Stopes edited the journal Birth Control News which gave anatomically explicit advice, and in addition to her enthusiasm for protests at places of worship this provoked protest from both the Church of England and the Catholic Church. Her sex manual Married Love, which was written, she claimed, while she was still a virgin, was controversial and influential.

The modern organisation that bears her name, Marie Stopes International, works in 38 countries across the world - ranging from the UK, Bolivia, and the Philippines through to Pakistan, Kenya and Papua New Guinea.

Stopes attended University College London as a scholarship student studying botany and geology, graduating with a first class B.Sc. in 1902. After carrying out research at University College London she pursued further study at the University of Munich, receiving a Ph.D. in palaeobotany in 1904. Following this Stopes earned a D.Sc degree from University College London, becoming the youngest person in Britain to have done so. In 1903 she published a study of the botany of the recently dried-up Ebbsfleet River. In 1907 she went to Japan on a Scientific Mission, spending a year and a half at the Imperial University, Tokyo, exploring for fossil plants. She was also Fellow and sometime Lecturer in Palaeobotany at University College London and Lecturer in Palaeobotany at the University of Manchester, in this capacity she became the first female academic on Manchester's faculty.

During Stopes' time at Manchester, she studied Coal and the collection of Glossopteris (seed Ferns). This was to prove the theory of Eduard Suess concerning the existence of Gondwanaland or Pangaea. A chance meeting with a Robert Falcon Scott, (Scott of the Antarctic), during one of his fund raising lectures brought a possibility of proving Suess's theory. Stopes' passion to prove Suess' theory led her to discuss with Scott the possibility of joining his next expedition. She failed to join the expedition but Scott had promised to bring back samples of fossils to prove the theory of the existence of Gondwanaland. A little more information can be found at the Geological Society web site concerning this area Cold Comfort.

Stopes opened the UK's first family planning clinic, the Mothers' Clinic at 61, Marlborough Road, Holloway, North London on 17 March 1921. 1925 the Mothers' Clinic moved to Central London, where it remains to this day.

Stopes and her fellow family planning pioneers around the globe, like Dora Russell, played a major role in breaking down taboos about sex and increasing knowledge, pleasure and improved reproductive health. In 1930 the National Birth Control Council was formed.

Stopes was a prominent campaigner for the implementation of policies inspired by eugenics, then not a discredited science. In her Radiant Motherhood (1920) she called for the "sterilisation of those totally unfit for parenthood [to] be made an immediate possibility, indeed made compulsory." She also bemoaned the abolition of child labour for the lower classes:

"Crushed by the burden of taxation which they have not the resources to meet and to provide for children also: crushed by the national cost of the too numerous children of those who do not contribute to the public funds by taxation, yet who recklessly bring forth from an inferior stock individuals who are not self-supporting, the middle and superior artisan classes have, without perceiving it, come almost to take the position of that ancient slave population."

In 1935 Stopes attended the International Congress for Population Science in Berlin, held under the Nazi regime. She was more than once accused of being anti-Semitic by other pioneers of the birth control movement such as Havelock Ellis

After her son Harry married a myopic woman, Stopes cut him out of her will. The daughter-in-law - Mary Eyre Wallis, later Mary Stopes-Roe - was the daughter of the noted engineer Barnes Wallis. Stopes reasoned that prospective grandchildren might inherit the condition. 

Supporters of Stopes generally concede that she made such remarks, but argue that they should be read in their historical context; such attitudes were not uncommon at the time. For example, the author Virginia Woolf once wrote in her diary "On the tow path we met and had to pass a long line of imbeciles...They should certainly be killed." Following Stopes' death in 1958, a large part of her personal fortune went to the Eugenics Society

Marie Carmichael Stopes was the daughter of Henry Stopes and Charlotte Carmichael Stopes.

Prior to her claim that her marriage to Canadian geneticist Reginald Ruggles Gates in 1911 was unconsummated, she had a serious relationship with Japanese botanist Kenjiro Fujii or Fugii, whom she met at the University of Munich in 1904 whilst researching her Ph.D. It was so serious, that in 1907, during her 1904-1910 tenure at Manchester University, she went to be with him in Japan, but the affair ended. Her marriage to Gates was annulled in 1914.

In 1918 she married the financial backer of her most famous work, Married Love : A New Contribution to the Solution of the Sex Difficulties, Humphrey Verdon Roe, brother of Alliott Verdon Roe. Her son, the philosopher Harry Stopes-Roe, was born in 1924.

Stopes died at her home in Dorking, Surrey, UK from breast cancer.

From the 1920s onward, Marie Stopes gradually built up a small network of clinics that were initially very successful, but by the early 1970s were in financial difficulties. In 1975 the clinics went into voluntary receivership. The modern organisation that bears Marie Stopes' name was established a year later, taking over responsibility for the main clinic, and in 1978 it began its work overseas in New Delhi. Since then the organisation has grown steadily and today the Marie Stopes International (MSI) global partnership works in 38 countries, has 452 clinics worldwide and has offices in London, Brussels, Melbourne and USA.

In 2006 alone, the organisation provided services to 4.6 million clients and by 2010 aims to protect 20 million couples from unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion.

Marie Stopes founded Portland Museum, Dorset on the Isle of Portland, which opened in 1930, and acted as the museum's curator. The cottage housing the museum was an inspiration behind The Well-Beloved, a novel by Thomas Hardy, who was a friend of Marie Stopes


Married Love A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties

Author: Marie Carmichael Stopes
Manufacturer: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Amazon Price: $6.99
Offers - Buy New From: $6.24 Used From: $5.12
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Editorial Review: This collection of literature attempts to compile many classics that have stood the test of time and offer them at a reduced, affordable price in an attractive volume so that everyone can enjoy them.


Married Love or Love in Marriage

Author: Dr. Marie Carmichael Stopes

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Editorial Review: Married Love or Love in Marriage is a book written by Dr. Marie Carmichael Stopes, first published in March 1918 by a small publisher, after many other larger publishers turned her down because of the content. It rapidly sold out, and was in its sixth printing within a fortnight.

The US Customs Service banned the book as obscene until April 6, 1931, when Judge John M. Woolsey overturned that decision. Woolsey is the same judge who in 1933 would lift the ban on James Joyce's "Ulysses", allowing for its publication and circulation in the United States of America.

It was the first book to note that women's sexual desire coincides with ovulation and the period right before menstruation. The book argued that marriage should be an equal relationship between partners. Although officially scorned in the UK, the book went through 19 editions and sales of almost 750,000 copies by 1931. -- from Wikipedia


Married Love

Author: Marie Carmichael Stopes
Manufacturer: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Amazon Price: $8.00
Offers - Buy New From: $7.04 Used From: $6.40
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Editorial Review: Married Love By Marie Carmichael Stopes


MARRIED LOVE or Love in Marriage

Author: Marie Carmichael Stopes
Manufacturer: Evergreen Review, Inc.

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Editorial Review: from the AUTHOR'S PREFACE: MORE than ever to-day are happy homes needed. It is my hope that this book may serve the State by adding to their number. Its object is to increase the joys of marriage, and to show how much sorrow may be avoided. ...This little book is less a record of a research than an attempt to present in easily understandable form the clarified and crystallized results of long and patient investigations. Its simple statements are based on a very large number of first hand observations, on confidences from men and women of all classes and types, and on facts gleaned from wide reading. My original contributions to the age-long problems of marriage will be found principally in Chapter IV; also in Chapters V, and VIII. The other chapters fill in what I hope is an undistorted and unexaggerated picture of the potential beauties and realities of marriage. The whole is written simply, and for the ordinary untrained reader, though it embodies some observations which will be new even to those who have made scientific researches on the subjects of sex and human physiology. I do not touch upon the many human variations and abnormalities which bulk so largely in most books on sex, nor do I deal with the many problems raised by incurably unhappy marriages. In the following pages I speak to those -- and in spite of all our neurotic literature and plays, they are in the great majority -- who are normal, and who are married or about to be married, and hope, but do not know how, to make their marriages happy and successful. To the reticent, as to the conventional, it may seem a presumption or a superfluity to speak of the details of the most complex of all human functions. They ask: Is not instinct enough? The answer is: No, instinct is not enough. In every other human activity it has been realized that training is essential to creatures of intellectual capacity like ourselves. As Saleeby once wisely pointed out: A cat knows how to manage her new-born kittens, how to bring them up and teach them; a human mother does not know how to manage her baby unless she is trained, either directly or by her own quick observation. A cat performs her simple duties by instinct; a human mother has to be trained to fulfill her very complex ones. And the same is true, and even to a greater extent, in the subtle complexities of sex. In civilized countries, in modern times, the old traditions, the profound primitive knowledge of the needs of both sexes have been lost -- and nothing but a muffled confusion of individual gossip disturbs a silence, shame-faced or foul. Here and there, in a family of fine tradition, a youth or maiden may learn some of the mysteries of marriage, but the great majority of people in the English speaking countries have no glimmering of knowledge of the supreme human art, the Art of Love. And even in books on advanced Physiology and Medicine the gaps, the omissions and even the misstatements, are amazing. In my own marriage I paid such a terrible price for sex-ignorance that I feel that knowledge gained at such a price should be placed at the service of humanity. In this book, average, healthy, mating creatures who come within the limits of what may be called "normal," will find information which should be known to every one of our race -- but is not -- and which may save them years of heartache and blind groping in the dark.


Radiant Motherhood: A Book for Those Who, Are Creating the Future (Classic Reprint)

Author: Marie Carmichael Stopes
Manufacturer: Forgotten Books
Amazon Price: $11.57
Offers - Buy New From: $11.57 Used From: $19.78
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Editorial Review: Excerpt from Radiant Motherhood: A Book for Those Who, Are Creating the Future

This book is written for the same young people who inspired Married Love. Many of my readers have asked me to write such a book as this, and I sincerely hope that it will not disappoint them. Many, many people have contributed facts which have helped me to write it. The book, however, is preeminently the work of my baby son and his father, whose beautiful spirits have been, and will be, through all eternity united with me in a burn ing desire to bring light into dark places.

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This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 March 2010 10:35

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