Just finished reading a chapter on John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor for sociology, and boy am I impressed! A brief background: both sociologists lived in the 19th century, and worked together on books that underwrote the importance of the emancipation of women, freedom for all, and abolition of any form of discrimination.
Mill and Taylor were also husband and wife, and were working on an Autobiography – a book that would contain details of their lives, as well as their convictions. They were also both suffering from tuberculosis, and dying, necessitating that they expedite their literary efforts.
In one letter to his wife, Mill says:
“I shall never be satisfied unless you allow our best book, the book which is to come, to have our two names on the title page.”
What an exhortation – to share recognition with his wife! This statement perhaps serves more as a metaphor for all things that a husband and wife can share. Their lives are lived as equals, and on the imaginary book of their lives shall be written both their names.
Taylor was also responsible for many of Mill’s book chapters. So when I came across this statement by Mill, I was promptly touched.
“When two persons have their thoughts and speculations completely in common…it is of little consequence in respect to the question of originality, which of them holds the pen.”
In marriage, in a true union, it is one united hand that holds the pen; a united hand that was once made of two. In speaking of the freedom of women from enslavement to their husbands, Mills and Taylor also underscored the importance of a union of equality and love.
Sociology can be fun. I’m smiling and giddy now.
Now, what if I could write a novel based on this?