Fanny Wright was born in Dundee on 6th September, 1795. Both her father, a wealthy Scottish linin manufacturer, and her mother died by the time she was three years old. Wright was brought up in the homes of relatives, including James Milne, a member of Scottish school of progressive philosophers. Milne, who encouraged Fanny to question conventional ideas, was to have a lasting influence on her political development.
Wright visited the USA in 1818 and after returning to England published her observations of the country in her book, Views of Society and Manners in America (1821). The book praised America's experiments in democracy and provided information for those radicals in Britain involved in the struggle for parliamentary reform.
In England she became friendly with the Marquis de Lafayette and together they returned to the United States in 1824. Later that year Wright visited New Harmony in Indiana, the socialist community established by Robert Owen and his son Robert Dale Owen. She was immediately converted to Owenism and decided to form her own co-operative community.
In 1825 Wright purchased 2,000 acres of woodland thirteen miles from Memphis in Tennessee and formed a community called Nashoba. Wright then bought slaves from neighbouring farmers, freed them, and gave them land on her settlement.
Some aspects of Wright's community were extremely controversial, especially her decision to encourage sexual freedom. She came to believe that miscegenation was the ultimate solution of the racial question. Wright saw marriage as a discriminatory institution and started advocating free love.
Slavery in the United States (£1.29)
Wright also developed her own dress code for women. This included bodices, ankle-length pantaloons and a dress cut to above the knee. This style was later promoted by feminists such as Amelia Bloomer, Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Wright spent her entire personal fortune on her Nashoba co-operative community. She hoped it would become economically self-sufficient but this did not happen and in 1828 she was forced to abandon her experiment. Wright and Robert Dale Owen arranged for the former slaves to be sent to the black republic of Haiti.
In 1829 Wright settled in New York where she published her book, Course of Popular Lectures. She also combined with Robert Dale Owen to publish the Free Enquirer. In the journal Wright advocated socialism, the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, free secular education, birth control, changes in the marriage and divorce laws. Wright and Owen also became involved in the radical Workingmen's Partywhile living in New York.
Wright married the French doctor, Guillaume P. Darusmont in 1831. The marriage was not a success and ended in divorce. As her husband, Darusmont had managed to gain control over her entire property, including her earnings from lectures and the royalties from her books. Fanny Wright was in the middle of a legal struggle with Darusmont, when she died on 13th December, 1852. As requested, her tombstone in Cincinnati was inscribed with the words: "I have wedded the cause of human improvement, staked on it my fortune, my reputation and my life."