"The long trial revealed the most brilliant piece of advocacy that the Bar has known since the day of Russell, though it was entirely conducted by a woman. Women, it appears, may sway courts and judges, but they may not even elect to the High Court of Parliament." (The Nation 26/4-1913)
In a time when women were not allowed to vote, not allowed to become lawyers, and representatives of the medical establishment asserted that an educated woman risked getting her uterus destroyed (and so could not have children), a young Swedish woman triumphed as her own advocate in a British trial. Who was she who gave rise to such admiration, and who during a decade on to 1914 appeared continually as controversial in the British press? And what did she defend in the trial of 1913?
Lizzy Lind-af-Hageby's and Leisa Schartau's eventful life in England at the turn of the century is the subject of this paper in history. For the first time these forgotten British-Swedish events are paid thorough and exclusive attention to. Archives; press cuttings, protocols, reports, diaries not researched before have been used to unravel a story with Lind-af-Hageby's and Schartau's book "Shambles of Science" as a starting-point.
The book "Shambles of Science", causing much debate and publicity when published in 1903, is based upon diary notes taken by the two women during their studies at King's and University's College in London, UK. After having been granted special permission (otherwise for men only) to attend so called vivisections on animals performed before students, Lind-af-Hageby and Schartau - during 1901 joint secretaries of the Nordic Society against animal abuse in science - were able to expose the situation for animals used in such vivisections. Through their book, Lind-af-Hageby and Schartau can be said to have performed an early example of what nowadays is called muckraking or investigative journalism.
Lind-af-Hageby and Schartau were not representative of women in their time. They were upper class women, extremely talented and obviously persons of means. However, they represented and were leaders of a strong movement; the struggle against vivisection. Its contours are seen in the story, and the seldom discussed fact that the antivivisection movement harboured different ideologies, is emphasized. Lind-af-Hageby and Schartau stretched many limits, defied written, and unwritten, rules for women. They went out into the streets, spoke from speech tribunes, arranged rallies in the open - and this in a time when women of their social class were expected to wait for their husband at home, placidly embroidering. The two women engaged in other radical movements, founded new organizations, and edited a journal. Lizzy Lind-af-Hageby debated in public with doctors and physiologists, attended courtrooms, and wrote newspaper columns. In 1913, she wrote a widely reviewed biography of August Strindberg in English (p 47). Lizzy Lind af Hageby and Leisa Schartau can be said to have participated in clearing the way for the "new women" of the time.
Lind-af-Hageby and Schartau were intellectually sophisticated. They advocated a moral utopism that entailed the promoting of all sorts of reform in society; the death penalty, flogging, torture, slavery, prostitution, gender unjustices, social barriers, vaccination, vivisection, and animal exploitation were on their abolition list. They advocated franchise reform and liberty for women, preventive healthcare, vegetarianism, healthcare - and social reform in general. Their commitment to antivivisection was part of an outlook on ethics and society as a whole.
Many women supported the antivivisection movement at that time. Why? The paper employs literature about this specific time in history to place the story in a context. Theories about gender roles and values, concerning the strict categories of men and women and the strongly male-dominated society, are applied to make the two women's commitment and the prevailing society's reactions comprehensible. In our animal- and natureinterested society the story about Lind-af-Hageby and Schartau seems surprisingly current. Modern lines of argumentation and commitment seem to have deep roots. For debaters of today there is much to learn and recognize.
Keywords: Lizzy Lind af Hageby, Leisa Schartau, investigative journalism, animal rights movement, anti-vivisection movement, feminism, new woman