Florence Farr — a Modern Woman

Hi to all of you!

Maybe you already know me through my Instagram Account. I hope you know that I am so happy about all of your lovely comments and likes. However, pictures only tell one specific part of a story, in my case the story of a beautiful actress living a life in the upper classes of London which other people can only dream about.

Today, I took the chance to write this post, because I needed a few more lines. Today, I want to tell you something about me — something that exceeds the beautiful world of perfect instagram posts.

One thing is true: I love a good audience — otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen the path of an actress. And, even though likes and comments for my posts really do make me feel good, this feeling doesn’t last long, especially when one is confronted with such denunciating allegations as I am.

I cannot believe that nowadays people are still talking about my sex life. Why is everyone still wondering whether I have had relationships with two or with twenty of my colleagues and friends. Why can’t I just go to dinner with a male friend without some of you asking if this is lover number 21?

Even one of my best friends, Bernard Shaw, who cannot stand the fact that I do not want to marry him, randomly adds men to my „list of lovers“:

„She set no bounds to her relations with men whom she liked, and already had a sort of Leporello list of a dozen adventures, none of which, however, had let to anything serious,“

he wrote in 1941. Unbelievable!

The only thing that differs from what my life would have been a hundred years ago is that today no one wonders whether I am fertile, since I have not once become pregnant sleeping with such a high number of men. I always wonder in how far we really progressed from the Victorian „ideal womanhood“. In fact, I have written a book entirely concerned with this topic, but more on that later …

Anyhow, as my friends say, no one should listen to men as jealous and judgmental as Bernard Shaw. All these allegations are sexist and based solely on hearsay retold by a rejected lover.

My parents died when I was still very young. My mother left us when I was only 16 and my father 7 years later. Since then I had to work for a living. I chose to become an actress because it allowed me to perform all aspects of being a woman, the fierce, the strong, the soft, the intelligent. No matter which role I take on, I try to show how it is part of my own identity as a woman.

This is not always well perceived. Bernard Shaw and W. B. Yeats used to complain that I am too much of a character to actually become an exceptional actress. Both believe that I should consider myself happy to be as beautiful as I am. Without my looks, as they and other critics say, I could never have become a well-known actress. Shaw once mentioned that my appearance „no doubt helped me to achieve a success that would have cost a plainer woman more to achieve.“

How annoying it is being judged solely by my looks and not seen as the woman that I want to be seen as.

Because of my work I haven’t been able to go to university. However, nothing and no one can keep me away from my precious books in the British Museum. Who would have known that the ideas of ancient Egypt are so intriguing or that the Tamil poems by Tagore that fascinating?

I have written various books on the symbolisms and esoteric teachings of the Kabbalah and the Egyptians. Shaw, however, did not like my way of writing. He thinks that popular books cannot be used to bring mystic ideas into the world. I wonder; has he ever been to a book shop? If he has, he must have been blind not to see the shelves labeled „Esotericism“. Again, he does not grant me any intellect and only sees me as a women with „large eyes, crescent eyebrows, and a smile“ of which he warns all mankind to beware.

Off to pastures new …

With this blogpost I also wanted to tell you that I have decided to redirect my life. I don’t think that Europe and it’s western secular culture will enable me to become the woman I want to be. Therefore, I will go to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka, as well as India, is intrinsically spiritual and far ahead of Europe in regard to what really matters in life: a sense of belonging and fulfillment.

I have currently been told that I have a serious illness. To regain strength and fight this opponent, I chose to go to a spiritual retreat in Sri Lanka to learn how to meditate the right way and be one with the world.

Afterwards, I will become the headmistress of a Hindu Girl’s school in Jaffna. I will dedicate my life to help these girls to become the best women they possibly can be. I know that there is a heated discussion within feminism today. White women from the west should stop defining what „feminism“ means and start allowing other women from various backgrounds and cultures to enhance our understanding of „feminism“. And I know that me being the new headmistress of this school sounds like I am doing exactly this: not allowing them to speak for themselves. But believe me when I say: I am the very last person to judge other women for what image of womanhood they consider fit for themselves.

If you don’t believe me, just have look into my newest book, Modern Woman. Her Intentions.

In this, I portray different aspects of female identities that should be acknowledged, allowed, and encouraged. In my feminist manifesto I argue that there is no version of womanhood that should be sanctioned by others. Instead I maintain that society should lay out the foundations that enable women to be true to themselves. Maybe this will lead to a society in which women won’t be judged for either choosing motherhood or their career — as I did — or both and being told that they cannot perform one hundred percent in both simultaneously.

This was:

Florence Farr (1860-1917), full-time Theosophist, woman of the Golden Dawn, writer, actress, and ardent feminist — in her own words …


Sources used:
Letters Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats to Florence Farr, in: Bax, Clifford. 1941. Florence Farr, Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeats. London: Thames & Hudson.
Letters Florence Farr and William Butler Yeats, in: Johnson, Josephine. 1992. „Florence Farr: Letters to W. B. Yeats, 1912-1917“, in: Deirdre Toomey (ed.), Yeats and Women. London: MacMillan. 216-254.
Greer, Mary. 1996. Women of the Golden Dawn, Rebels and Priestesses: Maud Gonne, Moina Bergson Mathers, Annie Horniman, Florence Farr. Park Street Press.

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