In his 1902 survey of the growing numbers of women graduates in Italy, Vittorio Ravà described them as, ‘a strong and numerous phalanx … that is advancing and preparing to fight economic and social battles’.1 Ravà was far from the only observer at the time to sense change in the air for Italian women. At the dawn of the twentieth century, education for girls was increasing and a few women were making their mark in the public sphere in professions like teaching, writing and medicine. Middle- and upper-class women were beginning to venture more beyond the home. A small, but determined and far from insignificant, feminist movement was campaigning for legal reform and attempting to challenge, or at least rethink, some of the prevailing ideas about the role of women in society.
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