"ACQUIRING THIS NEW IMPLEMENT OF POWER AND LITERALLY PUTTING IT UNDERFOOT"
(WOMAN SUFFRAGE) WILLARD, Frances E. A Wheel Within a Wheel. How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle. With Some Reflections by the Way. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1895. Small octavo (4-3/4 by 7 inches), original green cloth. $950.
First edition of the 19th-century temperance leader and suffragist's surprising path to "a whole philosophy of life" that is discovered as she learns ride a bicycle, an unexpected guide "to help women to a wider world," with frontispiece and six full-page illustrations, in original cloth.
When Frances Willard was elected president of the WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union), "she won on a platform that urged the WCTU to support the right of women to vote. She said that only with the right to vote could women elect officials who would support temperance. This was a master stroke of public relations, and it made women's suffrage palatable to many—both men and women—who would not have otherwise supported it" (Washington Post). Willard "made an unrivaled contribution toward the movement of women into public life… By 1890 she was as well known nationally as Eleanor Roosevelt was to be in the 1930s and 1940s" (ANB). Her persuasive skills are particularly evident in this seemingly modest work that uses a bicycle to prompt answers, in her words, to the "woman question." As she writes of her determination to ride a bicycle at the age of 53, she subtly evokes the potential freedoms, small and large, ushered in by "this uncompromising but fascinating and illimitably capable machine." Willard finds "a whole philosophy of life" in her adventure and, in Wheel Within a Wheel, captures the sheer joy of "acquiring this new implement of power and literally putting it underfoot," a power that allows her "to help women to a wider world." Copies found with title page imprint of "Fleming H. Revell Company" (this copy), or Woman's Temperance Publishing Association": no priority established. Without very scarce glassine. Bookseller ticket.
A fine copy.