“You damn bitch of an anarchist. I wish I could get at you. I would tear your heart out and feed it to my dog.” This was one of the less obscene messages received by Emma Goldman (1869-1940), while in jail on suspicion of complicity in the assassination of McKinley. The most notorious woman of her day, she was bitterly hated by millions and equally revered by millions.
The strong feelings she aroused are understandable. She was an alien, a practising anarchist, a labour agitator, a pacifist in World War I, an advocate of political violence, a feminist, a proponent of free love and birth control, a communist, a street fighter for justice – all of which she did with a strong intellect and boundless passion. Today, of course, many of the issues that she fought over are just as vital as they were 75 years ago.
Emma Goldman came from