Frances Power Cobbe (4 December 1822 – 5 April 1904) was an Irish writer, social reformer, anti-vivisection activist, and leading suffragette. She founded a number of animal advocacy groups, including the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) in 1875, and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) in 1898, and was a member of the executive council of the London National Society for Women's Suffrage.
She was the author of a number of books and essays, including The Intuitive Theory of Morals (1855), On the Pursuits of Women (1863), Cities of the Past (1864), Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors (1869), Darwinism in Morals (1871), and Scientific Spirit of the Age (1888).
Cobbe was a member of the prominent Cobbe family, descended from Archbishop Charles Cobbe, Primate of Ireland. She was born in Newbridge House in the family estate in what is now Donabate, Co. Dublin.
She formed a marriage with Mary Lloyd, whom she referred to alternately as "husband," wife," and "dear friend." She founded the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection (SPALV) in 1875, the world's first organization campaigning against animal experiments, and in 1898 the BUAV, two groups that remain active. Cobbe was a member of the executive council of the London National Society for Women's Suffrage and writer of editorial columns for London newspapers on suffrage, property rights for women, and opposition to vivisection.
Cobbe met the Darwin family during 1868. Emma Darwin liked her, "Miss Cobbe was very agreeable." Cobbe persuaded Charles Darwin to read Immanuel Kant's Metaphysics of Ethics. She met him again during 1869 in Wales, and apparently interrupted him when he was quite ill, and tried to persuade him to read John Stuart Mill—and indeed Darwin had read Cobbe's review of Mill's book, The Subjection of Women. She then lost his trust when without permission she edited and published a letter he'd written to her. Her critique of Darwin's Descent of Man, Darwinism in Morals was published in The Theological Review in April 1871.
- Buettinger, Craig. "Women and antivivisection in late nineteenth century America", Journal of Social History, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Summer, 1997), pp. 857–872.
- Caine, Barbara. Victorian feminists. Oxford 1992
- Rakow, Lana and Kramarae, Cheris. The Revolution in Words: Women's Source Library. London, Routledge 2003 ISBN 0-415-25689-5
- Lori Williamson, Power and protest : Frances Power Cobbe and Victorian society. 2005. ISBN 978-1-85489-100-6. A 320-page biography.
- Sally Mitchell, Frances Power Cobbe: Victorian Journalist, Feminist, Reformer. University of Virginia Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8139-2271-3.
- Victorian feminist, social reformer and anti-vivisectionist, discussion on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, 27 June 2005
- State University of New York - Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904)
- The archives of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (ref U DBV) are held at the Hull History Centre - and details of holings on its online catalogue.
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