Maria Deraismes

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Deraismes, Maria (17 August 1828 - 6 February 1894)

Deraismes was a pioneering force for women's rights in France. She was raised by a prosperous middle class family in a part of Paris called Pontoise and received more educational opportunities than most young women of her era. She wrote a collection of dramatic sketches that were published in 1861, and she wrote some comedies.

One of the founding members of the feminist movement in France. Deraismes welcomed participants to the first French Women's Congress, held in 1878, and she was president of the Society for the Improvement of the Condition of Women. She became known for having made a famous rebuttal to the misogynist labeling of women intellectuals as "bluestockings." Aux Femmes Riches (1865) was an appeal on behalf of her gender.

A rationalist and president of various freethought societies, she was invited by the Masonic Lodge of Le Pecq, near Paris, to become a member, and she was duly installed under the Grand Orient of France.

She not only was the first female Freemason but also with V. Schoelcher was co-president of the Paris Anti-clerical Congress of 1881. In 1882, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Paris.

Her journal was entitled Le Républicain de Seine et Oise.

Upon her death, she was interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre. Her complete writings were published in 1895, and much information on her work can be found at the Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand in Paris.