Robert A. Danielson
Biography Frances Power Cobbe (Dec. 4, 1822-Apr. 5, 1904) was born in Ireland to a large and important family. She grew up as the only daughter of five children and was educated to be a socially acceptable young lady. However, she had a keen mind and disliked social events, preferring to study on her own and enjoy the natural world around her. While her family was quite religious, she ended up rejecting the Christian faith for her own form of belief as an agnostic. But despite this rejection of Christianity, she later wrote, “By far the most important result of the Individualism of the Evangelical System has been the recognition of the spiritual equality of women” (Mitchell 2004:57). In 1855 she published The Theory of Intuitive Morals, arguing her own view of Kant’s moral imperative. After her father’s death, Cobbe travelled to the Middle East and became a correspondent for the London Daily News in Italy. She would go on to a successful journalistic career writing for social progress in a number of papers. Cobbe also continued with her interest in religious thought by becoming a Theist and writing Broken Lights: an Inquiry into the Present Condition and Future Prospects of Religious Faith (1864) and Dawning Lights: an Inquiry Concerning the Secular Results of the New Reformation (1867). Cobbe took up the cause of suffrage for women and a concern for abused women. Her article, “Truth on Wife Torture” (1878) became the basis for a law allowing for women to legally separate from husbands convicted of assaulting them. She would develop a greater awareness of ethics as they relate to animals as well as humans, and this led to her forming the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection (SPALV) in 1875 and in 1898 the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV). She became most well known for her anti-vivisection work, but continued writing. Her books include: On the Pursuits of Women (1863), Cities of the Past (1864), Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors (1869), Darwinism in Morals (1871), and Scientific Spirit of the Age (1888).
Robert A. Danielson