London: A. Roper & E. Wilkinson, 1696. First edition. Bound with [Drake, Judith], An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex. London: A. Roper and R. Clavel, 1697. Third edition.
Early 20th century crushed morocco with gilt to spine; patterned endpapers. Measuring 175 x 110mm and collating , 115, ; , 148, : bound without the frontis to the second volume, otherwise complete and in very pleasing condition. Symson's print signature inked out as usual. Occasional light scattered foxing throughout; small loss to corner of Symson pages 33-34 with no loss to text. Symson's text (sometimes also attributed to Mary Astell or Judith Drake) was released in this first and only edition as a bolster to An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex, which was released in first edition earlier that year and has been hailed as the first feminist treatise by a woman. Scarce institutionally and in trade, A Farther Essay has appeared only twice at auction; of those, one was bound with a third edition of An Essay in Defence as here.
Monuments in the history of feminism, and often considered two of the earliest such arguments published in English. The authorship of both An Essay in Defence and A Farther Essay have been matters of debate since their publication. At various times, Mary Astell and Judith Drake have been named by scholars as the "Lady" of the first tract's byline; similarly, while Ez. Symson appears as the author in the preface, his name is often inked out and the book attributed again to either Astell or Drake. Such guessing games seem to fulfill the wishes of the author, whose insistence on remaining anonymous is accompanied by a continual insistence on her sex as her only identifier (the title page of the early editions carry the byline "Written by a Lady," and throughout she aligns herself with others of "our sex"). Arguing that social constraints rather than natural ability limit women, and arguing for an inherent equality between the sexes, the author's removal of a specific name suggests the possibility that any lady with enough education could be the author. "Most Men pronounce this as a Performance above the Ability of Woman," she teases readers, asserting that her unknowability is further evidence of the sexes' lack of natural difference. "They will no more be able to discern a Man's Stile from a Woman's, than they can tell whether this was written with a Goose's Quill or a Gander's."
With an accompanying Typed Letter Signed, loosely inserted, from activist Emma Guffey Miller (1874-1970) to her close and longtime colleague Alice Paul (1885-1977) dated 1953 and discussing the recent progress of the Democratic party in their respective states of Pennsylvania and New York. Miller and Paul had for decades been leaders in the National Women's Party fighting for suffrage and, after 1920, for the Equal Rights Amendment. By the 1950s, they were working on campaigns to increase liberal leadership at local, state, and federal levels to make the ERA more likely to pass. A likely though not proven provenance.
ESTC R2585 and R2061. (Item #4351)