Louise Aston (1814–1871)

Author of Aus dem Leben einer Frau

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Louise or Luise Aston was born in Gröningen, Germany, a daughter of Johann Gottfried Hoche, a Protestant theologian and his wife, a disinherited aristocrat. At age 17, she made an arranged marriage to Samuel Aston, a wealthy industrialist of English descent. During their 13-year union, she was radicalized by contact with the workers in her husband's factories, and developed ideas on democracy and free love. She left her husband and moved with her daughter to Berlin to make a career as a writer and work for political and social change. In Berlin, she caused a scandal by smoking cigars and wearing men's clothing in public, and living with poet Rudolf Gottschall. She was watched by the secret police, and expelled from Berlin in 1846. That year, she published Wilde Rosen, her first collection of poetry, and her most overtly political work, Meine Emanzipation: Verweisung und Rechtfertigung, a leaflet printed in Brussels that called for a complete upheaval in the socio-political system. In 1848, she fought on the barricades of the revolution that was sweeping through Germany. She founded and managed to publish seven issues of a weekly newspaper, Der Freischärler, recognized today as the first newspaper of the German women's movement, before it was banned by the government. In 1850, she married Eduard Meier, a physician, and moved with him to Bremen. Harassed by the authorities, she and her husband went into foreign exile, moving among various European cities. She followed her husband when he went to serve as a doctor in the Crimean War. Eventually, they became exhausted from traveling and returned to Germany, where she lived incognito as Louise Meier. Among her other writings were three semi-autobiographical novels that promoted social and sexual equality and a book called Revolution und Contrerevolution (1849), a personal account of the failed revolution of the previous year interwoven with a fictional love story. Louise Aston was alone in her day in equating the role of women in a capitalist society with that of the working class, and calling for the rejection of all institutions of patriarchy. These ideas would later become the focus of radical feminists such as Shulamith Firestone.
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