The Voice of Harriet Taylor Mill

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9780253340719: The Voice of Harriet Taylor Mill

The Voice of Harriet Taylor Mill is a work about collaboration: Harriet’s life with her lover, friends, and members of her family; Harriet’s joint work with John Stuart Mill; and the author’s interaction with the reader. Jo Ellen Jacobs explores and expands the concept of biography using Salman Rushdie’s analogy of history as a process of "chutnification." She gives Harriet’s life "shape and form—that is to say, meaning" in a way that will "possess the authentic taste of truth."

In the first chapter, the first 30 years of Harriet’s life are presented in the format of a first-person diary—one not actually written by HTM herself. The text is based on letters and historical context, but the style suggests the intimate experience of reading someone’s journal. The second chapter continues the chronological account of HTM until her death in 1858. In an interlude between the first and second chapters, Jacobs pauses to explore Harriet’s life with John Stuart Mill; and in the final chapter, she argues persuasively that Harriet and John collaborated extensively on many works, including On Liberty.

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About the Author:

Jo Ellen Jacobs, Professor of Philosophy at Millikin University, is editor of The Complete Works of Harriet Taylor Mill (Indiana University Press 1998) and author of numerous articles on HTM in Presenting Women Philosophers, Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers, and Hypatia's Daughters.

Review:

"In the first third of this book, Jacobs (Millikin Univ.) presents a biography of Harriet Taylor Mill in the form of a journal. Although the exact words are not Harriet's, Jacobs provides copious footnotes to ground the entries. Next, Jacobs discusses Harriet's relationship with John Stuart Mill. Using as a springboard the concept of a collaborative self, she shows how several of their concerns and positions on various issues arise from the conditions of their shared life. Jacobs then considers the different aspects of Harriet's self, e.g., as daughter, sister, friend, wife, and mother. In the final chapter, Jacobs examines Harriet's work with John, arguing for the presence of her input, particularly in Principles of Political Economy and On Liberty. Jacobs's claim that Harriet and John collaborated on much work that bears his name alone may be controversial, but even more contentious is her claim that Harriet suffered from syphilis, having been infected by her first husband, John Taylor. Jacobs's case supporting this provocative claim is strong. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, undergraduates, and graduate students. May also interest some researchers/faculty." —P. R. Sailors, Southwest Missouri State University, 2003mar CHOICE

(P. R. Sailors, Southwest Missouri State University, 2003mar CHOICE)

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