John Stuart Mill 20 May 1806 – the most influential philosopher of the 19th century.
His wife Harriet Taylor reinforced Mill’s advocacy of women’s rights and the writing of On Liberty. He was a godfather to Bertrand Russell.
John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor; paintings by George Frederic Watts, 1873, and an unknown artist, circa 1834
In 1851, Mill married Harriet Taylor after 21 years of an intimate friendship. Taylor was married when they met, and their relationship was close but generally believed to be chaste during the years before her first husband died. Brilliant in her own right, Taylor was a significant influence on Mill’s work and ideas during both friendship and marriage. His relationship with Harriet Taylor reinforced Mill’s advocacy of women’s rights. He cites her influence in his final revision of On Liberty, which was published shortly after her death. Taylor died in 1858 after developing severe lung congestion, after only seven years of marriage to Mill.
The Subjection of Women
If society really wanted to discover what is truly natural in gender relations, Mill argued, it should establish a free market for all of the services women perform, ensuring a fair economic return for their contributions to the general welfare. Only then would their practical choices be likely to reflect their genuine interests and abilities.
Mill felt that the emancipation and education of women would have positive benefits for men also. The stimulus of female competition and companionship of equally educated persons would result in the greater intellectual development of all.
Phyllis Rose Parallel Lives Five Victorian Marriages.
In her study of the married couple as the smallest political unit, Phyllis Rose uses as examples the marriages of five Victorian writers who wrote about their own lives with unusual candor.The couples are John Ruskin and Effie Gray; Thomas Carlyle and Jane Welsh; John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor; George Eliot and G. H. Lewes; Charles Dickens and Catherine Hogarth.
Soren Kierkegaard and Regina Olsen (previous post)