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Flora Tristan

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Flora Tristan
Flore Célestine Thérèse Henriette Tristán y Moscoso

(1803-04-07)7 April 1803
Bordeaux, France
Died14 November 1844(1844-11-14) (aged 41)
Bordeaux, France

Flore Célestine Thérèse Henriette Tristán y Moscoso (7 April 1803 – 14 November 1844), better known as Flora Tristan, was a French-Peruvian writer and socialist activist.[1] She made important contributions to early feminist theory, and argued that the progress of women's rights was directly related with the progress of the working class.[2] She wrote several works, the best known of which are Peregrinations of a Pariah (1838), Promenades in London (1840), and The Workers' Union (1843). Tristan was the grandmother of the painter Paul Gauguin.

Early life


Tristan's full name was Flore Célestine Thérèse Henriette Tristán y Moscoso.[2] Her father, Mariano Eusebio Antonio Tristán y Moscoso, was a colonel of the Spanish Navy, born in Arequipa, a city in Peru. His family was one of the most powerful families in the south of the country; his brother Pío de Tristán became viceroy of Peru. Tristan's mother, Anne-Pierre Laisnay, was French; the couple met in Bilbao, Spain.

When Tristan's father died in 1807, before her fifth birthday, the family's situation changed drastically from the high standards of living Tristan and her mother were accustomed to. In 1833 she travelled to Arequipa to claim her paternal inheritance, which was in possession of her uncle, Juan Pío de Tristán y Moscoso. She remained in Peru until 16 July 1834. Though she never secured her inheritance, Tristan wrote a travel diary about her experiences in Peru during its tumultuous post-independence period. The diary was published in 1838 as Pérégrinations d'une paria (Peregrinations of a Pariah).[3] Around this time, Tristan met and was influenced by the philosophy of the androgynous mystic Simon Ganneau, as well as the occultist writer Éliphas Lévi, her longtime friend.[4][5][6]



Repressed for the most part in history, women's historiography has been gaining traction in the attempt of historians to highlight “minoritized” histories. Through her writings, Flora Tristan was able to show the ability of women to conceptualize the idea of freedom which emanated from her works.

Seeing the failure of the promises of capitalism, Tristan wrote from a deep desire for social progress—combining the women's struggle with socialism. When one traces socialism going together with feminism, Tristan becomes the key person in this amalgamation. Tristan would be known as the “mother of feminism and of popular communitarian socialism”,[7] fighting the prejudice and misogyny that powers women's oppression.

Flora Tristan was “the first woman to try to merge the proto-feminist and social discourses into a critical synthesis, opening the way leading for the future shape of feminism of a proletarian class character, which finds it inconceivable that there exist oppressed women who are capable of oppressing other women”.[8]

Tristan highlighted themes and ideas that give primacy to worker's rights. She was the first one to conceive the idea that the emancipation of the proletariat would be the synthesis of the people's struggle against the bourgeoisie. She further added that this was only to be possible with the emancipation of the sexes.[7]

Tristan organized the fragmented ideas of women's equality at that time, brought by the French Revolution. She provided the platform for the later rise of feminism in the late 19th century. Tristan would die “defending the rights of the proletarian or rather demanding them for him; she died whilst preaching, through her words and her actions, the law of union and love that she had brought to him”.[9]

Flora Tristan's life, works, and ideals have proved fruitful for the excavation of women's work through time. Establishing histories that would focus on the contribution of women, Flora Tristan has provided much in the progressing excavation of women's role in our history.[citation needed]

Family tree


José Joaquín
de Tristán del Pozo
de Moscoso
Léonard ChazalJeanne-Geneviève ButerneMariano de Tristán y MoscosoAnne-Pierre LaisnayPío de Tristán y Moscoso
Antoine ChazalAndré ChazalFlora Tristan
Alexandre ChazalErnest ChazalClovis GauguinAline Chazal
Paul GauguinMette-Sophie Gad
Émile GauguinAline GauguinClovis GauguinJean René GauguinPaul-Rollon Gauguin


  1. ^ "Flora Tristán". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b Nilan, Kathleen A. "Flora Tristan". Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  3. ^ Doris and Paul Beik, Flora Tristan: Utopian Feminist: Her Travel Diaries and Personal Crusade. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993
  4. ^ Naomi Judith Andrews, Socialism's Muse: Gender in the Intellectual Landscape of French Romantic Socialism (2006), pages 40-41, 95, 102
  5. ^ Francis Bertin, Esotérisme et socialisme (1995), page 53
  6. ^ Grogan (2002), pp. 193-194
  7. ^ a b Sowerwine, Charles (1998). "Socialist, Feminism, and the Socialist Women's Movement from the French Revolution to World War II" in Becoming Visible: Women in European History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 357–388.
  8. ^ Valenzuela, Nahuel (2015). "Flora Tristan: precursor of feminism and proletarian emancipation". Anarkismo.
  9. ^ Grogan, Susan (1998). Flora Tristan: Life Stories. New York: Routledge. p. 6.


  • Tristan, Flora. The Workers Union. Translated by Beverly Livingston. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983, 77–78.
  • Máire Cross. The Feminism of Flora Tristan. Berg, Oxford, 1992. ISBN 0-85496-731-1
  • Máire Cross. The Letter in Flora Tristan's Politics, 1835-1844, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004. ISBN 0-333-77264-4
  • Flora Tristan’s Diary: The Tour of France 1843–1844, translated, annotated and introduced by Máire Fedelma Cross. Berne: Peter Lang, 2002. ISBN 978-3-906768-48-9
  • Dominique Desanti. A Woman in Revolt: A Biography of Flora Tristan. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1976. ISBN 0-517-51878-3
  • The London Journal of Flora Tristan, translated, annotated and introduced by Jean Hawkes. London: Virago Press, 1982. ISBN 0-86068-214-5
  • Tristan, Flora. Peregrinations of a Pariah, translated by Jean Hawkes. London: Virago Press, 1985. ISBN 0-86068-477-6
  • Beik, Doris and Paul. Flora Tristan: Utopian Feminist: Her Travel Diaries and Personal Crusade. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
  • Dijkstra, Sandra. Flora Tristan: Feminism in the Age of George Sand. London: Pluto Press, 1992. ISBN 0745304508
  • Krulic, Brigitte. ‘’Flora Tristan.’’ Paris: Gallimard/NRF, 2022. ISBN 978-2-07-282022-9
  • Melzer, Sara E. and Rabine, Leslie W. Rebel Daughters: Women and the French Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, 284.
  • Schneider, Joyce Anne. Flora Tristan: Feminist, Socialist, and Free Spirit. New York: Morrow, 1980. ISBN 0688222501.
  • Strumingher, Laura L. The Odyssey of Flora Tristan. New York: Peter Lang, 1988. University of Cincinnati Studies in Historical and Contemporary Europe, vol. 2. ISBN 0820408883