Violets and abolition: The discourse on slavery in Faustina Saez de Melgar's magazine La Violeta (1862-1866)

Henriette Anna Margarete Partzsch

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Although the commitment of several nineteenth-century Spanish women writers to abolitionism is a well-established fact, not much is known about the concrete forms their engagement took in a society in which the bourgeois ideology of woman as the angel in the house played a prominent role. The close study of the weekly magazine La Violeta (1862-66), directed by Faustina Sáez de Melgar, shows how the active and public support for this international cause was linked to the development of a model of compassionate intervention by women, most notably formulated by the magazine's regular contributor Rogelia León in response to the very mixed reviews of the foundational meeting of a ladies' abolitionist society. The press coverage of this event clearly demonstrates how political conflict is cast in terms of gender and class and used to threaten middle-class women who step into the political sphere. The analysis of the discourse on slavery reveals an equal importance of both categories in La Violeta, together with the patronising and casual racism of its authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-875
JournalBulletin of Spanish Studies
Issue number6
Early online date28 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


  • Nineteenth-century Spanish women writers
  • Racism
  • Class
  • Gender
  • Press
  • Ladies’ abolitionist society
  • Rogelia Léon
  • Faustina Sáez de Melgar
  • Abolitionism


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