The Margaret Sanger Papers


Browne, Frances Worsely Stella (1882-1955)

British socialist feminist and birth control advocate. Browne was not only a socialist but an early admirer of Havelock Ellis' writing on female sexual pleasure. In 1912, committed to promoting women's sexual freedom, she began writing articles for The Freewoman. By 1914 Browne was a member of the Malthusian League and through lectures and articles in journals such as The New Generation, had emerged as an advocate of women's sexual freedom. She was also known for her outspoken support of the need to disseminate birth control information to working class women. Browne, who met Margaret Sanger during the latter's 1914 exile, contributed to Sanger's The Birth Control Review and helped circulate the journal in England. Browne also contributed to Cedar and Eden Paul's 1917 book, Population and Birth Control. By the 1920s Browne's efforts were directed at promoting birth control in the British Communist Party; she resigned in 1923 when she failed to alter the Party's position on the issue. Browne then became a member of the Workers' Birth Control Group (1924-1930), an organization aimed at generating the support of the Labour Party for the inclusion of birth control in the British Public Health Service. In 1936 she became a founding member of the Abortion Law Reform Association, which sought to legalize abortion in England. Fluent in German, Browne translated Theodore Van de Velde's Ideal Marriage (1928) and sexologist Max Hodann's History of Modern Morals (1937).
References: Rosanna Ledbetter, A History of the Malthusian League, 1877-1927 (1976); Sheila Rowbotham, A New World for Women: Stella Browne, Socialist-Feminist (1977); and Richard A. Soloway, Birth Control and the Population Question in England, 1877-1930 (1982).