Flora Tristan (1803 - 1844) was a French writer, feminist, and socialist reformer.

In 1833 she travelled to Perú; in an attempt to claim her father's inheritance. She arrived in the midst of a chaotic civil war. Doña Francisca Zubiaga de Gamarra, the wife of General Gamarra and the true head of the government, was leading the Peruvian army. Undaunted by the war and her own poverty, Tristan plotted to oppose the Gamarrists and take over the government with her own male figurehead; she reasoned that she would use her power for good, but after some thought she abandoned the plan because worldly ambition often leads to disaster. She never doubted that she could take over the government -- since she was convinced that everyone she met was fascinated by her wit and beauty. This trip's journal was published as Peregrinations of a Pariah, in 1838.

After several trips to London she wrote Promenades in London (1840), a book that advocated the education and legal equality of women as a cure for many social ills. About prostitution, for example, she argues that the expectation of chastity in women, combined with their lack of educational opportunities, creates a system where, once "fallen", a woman has no option but to become a prostitute.

In 1843 she wrote The Workers' Union, a book that exhorted the workers of France to create a union for their own empowerment. Touring the country, she gave speeches to the workers and tried to help them in their struggle for social justice. International solidarity, workers' rights, and equal rights for women were the goal of her life's work.

Her real name was Flore Celestine Therèse Henriette Tristan-Moscoso. As a teenager, she was forced by her parents to marry a man named Chazal; eventually she left Chazal with her two children. They had a prolonged custody battle -- she could not get a divorce, and legally Chazal had the right to force Flora and the children to live with him. At one point Chazal shot and nearly killed Flora; he went to jail and in 1838 she was able to get an order of legal separation from him.

Marx and Engels, the authors of The Communist Manifesto, were influenced by her socialism, and defended her work against its detractors.

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