Harriet Taylor Mill Criticism - Essay

S. E. Henshaw (essay date 1874)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “John Stuart Mill and Mrs. Taylor,” in Overland Monthly, Vol. 13, No. 6, 1874, pp. 516-23.

[In the following essay, Henshaw examines John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, focusing on Mill's excessive praise of Harriet Taylor.]

As we lay down the deeply interesting biography of John Stuart Mill, we can not help wondering whether the volume will raise or lower him in the general regard, and what is the place that will be finally assigned him in the world of letters. His own estimate of himself can not be accepted at all. He did not know enough of children to judge his own attainments in childhood, nor enough of religion to comprehend the extent to which he...

(The entire section is 4953 words.)

Mary Taylor (essay date 1912)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Mrs. John Stuart Mill: A Vindication by Her Granddaughter,” in Nineteenth Century and After, Vol. 71, 1912, pp. 357-63.

[In the following essay, Taylor refutes an earlier article questioning both Harriet Taylor's intellect as well as her influence on John Stuart Mill.]

In an article entitled ‘Famous Autobiographies,’ by an anonymous writer in the Edinburgh Review for October, certain statements have been made that must have grated upon all admirers of John Stuart Mill, accustomed as they are to pay respect to the memory of the woman whom he loved with unfailing constancy from youth to the day of his death; and also to that of his step-daughter,...

(The entire section is 3227 words.)

Guy Linton Diffenbaugh (essay date 1923)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Mrs. Taylor Seen Through Other Eyes than John Stuart Mill's,” in Sewanee Review, Vol. 31, No. 2, April, 1923, pp. 198-204.

[In the following essay, Diffenbaugh examines various opinions of both the character and intellectual abilities of Harriet Taylor by her contemporaries, concluding that although she was certainly an intelligent woman, Taylor could not have been the intellectual giant that John Stuart Mill claimed she was.]

Mill in reply to Grote's letter of sympathy on the death of Mrs. Mill writes: “If I were to attempt to express in the most moderate terms what she was, even you would hardly believe me.”1 This doubt appears to be not...

(The entire section is 2342 words.)

Francis E. Mineka (essay date 1963)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Autobiography and the Lady,” in University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 3, April, 1963, pp. 301-6.

[In the following essay, Mineka explores the initial reaction to John Stuart Mill's Autobiography and his implications that Harriet Taylor collaborated on several of his essays.]

The publication of John Stuart Mill's Autobiography in October 1873, less than six months after his death, created something of a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. Mill's reputation and influence were still at their height, his Logic and his Political Economy were widely used college textbooks in both England and America, and his...

(The entire section is 3231 words.)

Alice S. Rossi (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Sentiment and Intellect: The Story of John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill,” in Essays on Sex Equality: John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill, University of Chicago Press, 1970, pp. 3-63.

[In the following excerpt, Rossi examines the Mill/Taylor controversy from a sociological perspective, paying particular attention to the influence of the Unitarian Radicals and the Philosophical Radicals on the early stages of the couple's relationship.]

If we could go back to the town of Avignon in the year 1860, we might take a two-mile stroll along the banks of the Rhone, through meadows and groves of mulberries, to the house in which John Stuart Mill wrote the...

(The entire section is 20183 words.)

Susan Groag Bell (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Feminization of John Stuart Mill,” in Revealing Lives: Autobiography, Biography, and Gender, edited by Susan Groag Bell and Marilyn Yalom, State University of New York Press, 1990, pp. 81-92.

[In the following essay, Bell explores critics' refusal to acknowledge Harriet Taylor's contribution to John Stuart Mill's writing, and offers possible reasons for this resistance.]

The Autobiography of John Stuart Mill, the most famous male feminist of the nineteenth century, is inspired by a presence that has infuriated many critics—that of his wife Harriet. In Mill's words, she was “the most admirable person I had ever known” (p. 114). He insisted...

(The entire section is 5219 words.)

Leah D. Hackleman (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Suppressed Speech: The Language of Emotion in Harriet Taylor's The Enfranchisement of Women,” in Women’s Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3-4, 1992, pp. 273-86.

[In the following essay, Hackleman explores the impact that Harriet Taylor's “Enfranchisement of Women” had on the feminist movement.]

Suppressed speech gathers into a storm …

Eliza Sharples, 1832

Histories of the early English feminist movement often locate its beginning in the middle nineteenth century with the rise of women's reform societies and trace its development to the suffrage movement of the early...

(The entire section is 6015 words.)

Linda M.-G. Zerilli (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Constructing ‘Harriet Taylor’: Another Look at J. S. Mill's Autobiography,” in Constructions of the Self, edited by George Levine, Rutgers University Press, 1992, pp. 191-212.

[In the following essay, Zerilli explores Harriet Taylor's impact on John Stuart Mill's life, including the possibility that Taylor acted as a “mother-figure” to Mill.]

But if I were to say in what above all she is preeminent, it is her profound knowledge of human nature. To know all its depths and elevations she had only to study herself.

John Stuart Mill

Readers of John Stuart Mill...

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Jo Ellen Jacobs (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “‘The Lot of Gifted Ladies Is Hard’: A Study of Harriet Taylor Mill Criticism,” in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Vol. 9, No. 3, Summer, 1994, pp. 132-62.

[In the following essay, Jacobs considers critiques written about Harriet Taylor and attempts to offer a new perspective on her life and influence on Mill.]

Who can tell a life? How can I reconstruct the inside, not merely the shell, of another? Margaret Atwood quotes the end of Arnold Bennett's biography by Margaret Drabble:

“Many a time, … reading a letter or a piece of his journal, I have wanted to shake his hand, or to thank him, to say well...

(The entire section is 14970 words.)

Sarojini (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Better Deal for the Better Half: Mill and Harriet Taylor on the Subjection of Women,” in Women’s Writing: Text and Context, edited by Jasbir Jain, Rawat Publications, 1996, pp. 56-63.

[In the following essay, Sarojini offers a comparison of the essential views that Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill held concerning men and women, marriage and divorce.]

In the English speaking world the feminist movement might be said to have begun with the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792. It made very little impact on its contemporaries, partly because it was so obviously a child of the French Revolution, and partly...

(The entire section is 2346 words.)