Who could imagine a socialist seamstress or doctor today giving their time to running evening literacy classes and free clinics for the poor? I was drawn to the early socialists in France because I was initially intrigued by their dream worlds, but stayed the course through admiration for their selfless inspiration and initiative, particularly that of the substantial number of ordinary working women.
The manuscript evidence is taken in Paris mainly from the Archives Nationales, the Bibliothèque de l'Arsénal and the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris; I also worked in a selection of departments, chiefly in the south-west and west, especially in Nantes. The Goldsmiths' Collection, University of London provided a mine of rare books and periodicals on early socialism, particularly the Saint-Simonians and Fourierists. I am indebted to the archivists and librarians of these collections.
I am very grateful to the Research Strategy Fund, Royal Holloway, University of London, which facilitated my work in Paris and to my Head of Department, Francis Robinson, who allowed me sabbatical leave to research and write; to Patrick O'Brien and the Scouloudi Foundation, Institute of Historical Research, University of London for an award that allowed me to undertake my own mini “tour de France”; to the British Academy, which financed extensive work on the valuable and virtually unused papers of the femininst socialist Ange Guépin in Nantes and the Fourier and Considérant papers in the Archives Nationales; and to the Central Research Fund, University of London which contributed to my work on the Saint-Simonian archive in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsénal.
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