> Skip to content
  • Published: 2 March 2015
  • ISBN: 9780099595731
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 864
  • RRP: $27.99

The Second Sex

Required reading for anyone who believes in the equality of the sexes, The Second Sex is the crowning text of second wave feminism


'Everyone who cares about freedom and justice for women should read The Second Sex' Guardian

Simone de Beauvoir famously wrote, 'One is not born, but rather becomes, woman'. In this groundbreaking work of feminism she examines the limits of female freedom and explodes our deeply ingrained beliefs about femininity. Liberation, she argues, entails challenging traditional perceptions of the social relationship between the sexes and, crucially, in achieving economic independence.

Drawing on sociology, anthropology and biology, The Second Sex is as important and relevant today as when it was first published in 1949.

  • Published: 2 March 2015
  • ISBN: 9780099595731
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 864
  • RRP: $27.99

About the author

Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908. In 1929 she became the youngest person ever to obtain the agrégation in philosophy at the Sorbonne, placing second to Jean-Paul Sartre. She taught at the lycées at Marseille and Rouen from 1931–1937, and in Paris from 1938–1943. After the war, she emerged as one of the leaders of the existentialist movement, working with Sartre on Les Temps Mordernes. The author of several books including The Mandarins (1957) which was awarded the Prix Goncourt, de Beauvoir was one of the most influential thinkers of her generation. She died in 1986.

Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier have lived in Paris for over forty years and are both graduates of Rutgers University, New Jersey. Borde was on the faculty of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques and has been chair and vice-chair of American Democrats Abroad. Malovany-Chevallier was a full- time faculty member at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques and continues to teach American literature. They have been translating books and articles on social science, art and feminist literature for twenty-five years and have jointly authored numerous books in French on subjects ranging from grammar to politics to American cooking.

Also by Simone de Beauvoir

See all

Praise for The Second Sex

A masterpiece


Discovering The Second Sex was like an explosion in my skull, shattering illusions bred in a conventional fifties childhood...Re-reading the book now I realise how much of it is still entirely relevant, and that (despite advances) women are as much in need of liberation as ever

Bel Mooney

De Beauvoir was not just a genius as a theorist. She dared to live it. Challenging conventional marriage and sexual practice, she used her own experience to explore the emotional costs of jealousy, attachment, monogamy, bohemianism, sexuality, of love

Susie Orbach

A fine piece of work, a lucid translation


A fresh, much expanded, more intelligible book which repays re-reading by adherents of the old version, and cries out for attention from young women who have not been exposed to this most powerful of feminist thinkers

Irish Times

On publication in 1949, the book shocked and scandalised society, 'The Vatican put the book on the Index; Albert Camus accused Simone De beauvoir of having made the French male look ridiculous... But that didn't stop sales - it sold 20,000 copies in its first week. When The Second Sex was published in the US it leaped onto the the bestseller lists'

London Review of Books

The effect of the new translation, which should be applauded, is to make Beauvoir more herself: to add longer paragraphs, to take away the friendly pronouns added in by the last translator, to keep in dense philosophical riffs that had been omitted before. The book is more demanding than it was before, which is to say more stylish, more itself.


There is no doubt that De Beauvoir's The Second Sex is one of the great texts of women's liberation; and that her refusal to abide by the dictates of her era...were ahead of their time

Joanna Briscoe, Guardian

Everyone who cares about freedom and justice for women should read The Second Sex


Still considered the Holy Grail of modern feminist thought

New York Times

The Second Sex remains the greatest feminist tract of the century

Daily Telegraph

Still an important book. It had a great effect on me

Anne-Marie Duff, Glamour

A landmark in the history of feminism, considered scandalous in its day for its frank treatment of female sexuality, and instantly banned by the Vatican.

John Carey, The Sunday Times

This groundbreaking study of women is a classic, transforming perceptions of gender. It may not be a new release but it is every bit as powerful now as it was then.

Jenny Proudfoot, MarieClaire