London and Belfast: William Mullan and Son, 1879. First edition. Buff printed wraps, measuring 135 x 205mm. Complete in 32 pages. Some chipping along spine and to top and fore edges of wraps; a bit toned externally and internally. Stamps of the University of Bristol Library to foot of title page and verso of final leaf, else unmarked. Presented by Burton to the City Liberal Club, with her signature on the verso of the front wrap: "The Authoress. March 21st 1879." A scarce and delicate piece, OCLC reports 8 copies (none noted as signed) at libraries. No copies appear in the modern auction record, and the present is the only example in trade.
Pulling content from a longer work AEI: Arabia, Egypt and India, traveler and activist Isabel Burton produced a pamphlet for the benefit of her animal rights work in the Middle East. While living in Trieste with her husband, Sir Richard Burton, "one of her chief interests was to manage a local society for the prevention of cruelty to animals" (Burtonia). Before her marriage, Burton had promoted sex worker rights and an improvement in their safety and healthcare; after her marriage, her activism shifted to the more socially acceptable realm of animal rights. Yet Burton maintained her verve. "A passionate campaigner, she patrolled the streets on the lookout for natives abusing animals, boasting that 'if my husband did not keep me in order in this matter, I should always be in the lock-up for assault, for these sights make me forget that I am a lady'" (Taylor). Here, Burton documents instances of animal cruelty that she had observed, including vivisection, details local resistance to her efforts and a lack of police support, and sets forth arguments and solutions.
Burton's humane intentions aside, it must be acknowledged that her activism carried with it imperialist attitudes and leveraged white supremacy to create public space for upper class women's empowerment. "Women have historically used a raft of strategies to open up new conceptual spaces in their engagement with power...and they have drawn on male sources of authority and prestige by identifying themselves with certain kinds of men...These strategies that served to create representations of women as powerful nonetheless remained overtly conservative" (Taylor). No longer aiding women outside her social strata and turning instead to non-human animals, Burton's words at times position these animals as superior to the Middle Eastern peoples and cultures that allow animal abuse; and in addition to attempting to enforce cultural change in a space not her own, she urges her fellow English to cease animal abuse as well, in order to prevent their sinking to an inhumane level beneath their status. (Item #4652)