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In Search of an Autobiographical Room of Her Own

First Estonian Feminist Lilli Suburg (1841–1923) as an Autobiographer

Eve Annuk

The first Estonian feminist, journalist, writer, and teacher Lilli Suburg (1841–1923) was an outstanding autobiographer who used accounts of her life as a part of her journalistic and literary practice. With the help of her autobiographical strategy she created her own textual space, which allowed her to assert the validity of her life experiences. Feminism was becoming increasingly widespread in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and Suburg tried to introduce European ideas, including feminism, to the emerging Estonian intellectual audience. However, she did not find a receptive public for these ideas, owing to the conservatism of the local Baltic-German society and the Estonian national awakening. This article explores the autobiographical writings of Lilli Suburg and analyzes them in historical context, demonstrating how these texts enabled Suburg to create a unique textual space in which she gradually defined and legitimated her feminism.