A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Overview

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792
1792 in literature
-New books:*Hugh Henry Brackenridge - Modern Chivalry: containing the Adventures of Captain John Farrago and Teague O'Regan, His servant*Johann Baptist Durach - Philippine Welserin*Susannah Gunning - Anecdotes of the Delborough Family...

), written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book...

, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy
Feminist philosophy
Feminist philosophy refers to philosophy approached from a feminist perspective. Feminist philosophy involves both attempts to use the methods of philosophy to further the cause of the feminist movements, and attempts to criticise or re-evaluate the ideas of traditional philosophy from within a...

. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who did not believe women should have an education. She argues that women ought to have an education commensurate with their position in society, claiming that women are essential to the nation because they educate its children and because they could be "companions" to their husbands, rather than mere wives.
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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792
1792 in literature
-New books:*Hugh Henry Brackenridge - Modern Chivalry: containing the Adventures of Captain John Farrago and Teague O'Regan, His servant*Johann Baptist Durach - Philippine Welserin*Susannah Gunning - Anecdotes of the Delborough Family...

), written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book...

, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy
Feminist philosophy
Feminist philosophy refers to philosophy approached from a feminist perspective. Feminist philosophy involves both attempts to use the methods of philosophy to further the cause of the feminist movements, and attempts to criticise or re-evaluate the ideas of traditional philosophy from within a...

. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who did not believe women should have an education. She argues that women ought to have an education commensurate with their position in society, claiming that women are essential to the nation because they educate its children and because they could be "companions" to their husbands, rather than mere wives. Instead of viewing women as ornaments to society or property to be traded in marriage, Wollstonecraft maintains that they are human beings deserving of the same fundamental rights as men.

Wollstonecraft was prompted to write the Rights of Woman after reading Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord's 1791 report to the French National Assembly
National Constituent Assembly
The National Constituent Assembly was formed from the National Assembly on 9 July 1789, during the first stages of the French Revolution. It dissolved on 30 September 1791 and was succeeded by the Legislative Assembly.-Background:...

, which stated that women should only receive a domestic education; she used her commentary on this specific event to launch a broad attack against sexual double standards and to indict men for encouraging women to indulge in excessive emotion. Wollstonecraft wrote the Rights of Woman hurriedly in order to respond directly to ongoing events; she intended to write a more thoughtful second volume but died before completing it.

While Wollstonecraft does call for equality between the sexes in particular areas of life, such as morality, she does not explicitly state that men and women are equal. Her ambiguous statements regarding the equality of the sexes have since made it difficult to classify Wollstonecraft as a modern feminist, particularly since the word and the concept were unavailable to her. Although it is commonly assumed now that the Rights of Woman was unfavourably received, this is a modern misconception based on the belief that Wollstonecraft was as reviled during her lifetime as she became after the publication of William Godwin's
William Godwin
William Godwin was an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism...

 Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is William Godwin's biography of his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ....

(1798). The Rights of Woman was actually well-received when it was first published in 1792. One biographer has called it "perhaps the most original book of [Wollstonecraft's] century".

Historical context



A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was written against the tumultuous background of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 and the debates that it spawned in Britain. In a lively and sometimes vicious pamphlet war, now referred to as the Revolution Controversy
Revolution Controversy
The Revolution Controversy was a British debate over the French Revolution, lasting from 1789 through 1795. A pamphlet war began in earnest after the publication of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France , which surprisingly supported the French aristocracy...

, British political commentators addressed topics ranging from representative government to human rights to the separation of church and state, many of these issues having been raised in France first. Wollstonecraft first entered this fray in 1790 with A Vindication of the Rights of Men
A Vindication of the Rights of Men
A Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; Occasioned by His Reflections on the Revolution in France is a political pamphlet, written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, which attacks aristocracy and advocates republicanism...

, a response to Edmund Burke's
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

 Reflections on the Revolution in France
Reflections on the Revolution in France
Reflections on the Revolution in France , by Edmund Burke, is one of the best-known intellectual attacks against the French Revolution...

(1790). In his Reflections, Burke criticized the view of many British thinkers and writers who had welcomed the early stages of the French revolution. While they saw the revolution as analogous to Britain's own Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 in 1688, which had restricted the powers of the monarchy, Burke argued that the appropriate historical analogy was the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 (1642–1651) in which Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 had been executed in 1649. He viewed the French revolution as the violent overthrow of a legitimate government. In Reflections he argues that citizens do not have the right to revolt against their government because civilization is the result of social and political consensus; its traditions cannot be continually challenged—the result would be anarchy. One of the key arguments of Wollstonecraft's Rights of Men, published just six weeks after Burke's Reflections, is that rights cannot be based on tradition; rights, she argues, should be conferred because they are reasonable and just, regardless of their basis in tradition.

When Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord presented his Rapport sur l'instruction publique (1791) to the National Assembly
National Assembly (French Revolution)
During the French Revolution, the National Assembly , which existed from June 17 to July 9, 1789, was a transitional body between the Estates-General and the National Constituent Assembly.-Background:...

 in France, Wollstonecraft was galvanized to respond. In his recommendations for a national system of education, Talleyrand had written:

Let us bring up women, not to aspire to advantages which the Constitution denies them, but to know and appreciate those which it guarantees them . . . Men are destined to live on the stage of the world. A public education suits them: it early places before their eyes all the scenes of life: only the proportions are different. The paternal home is better for the education of women; they have less need to learn to deal with the interests of others, than to accustom themselves to a calm and secluded life.


Wollstonecraft dedicated the Rights of Woman to Talleyrand: "Having read with great pleasure a pamphlet which you have lately published, I dedicate this volume to you; to induce you to reconsider the subject, and maturely weigh what I have advanced respecting the rights of woman and national education." At the end of 1791, French feminist Olympe de Gouges
Olympe de Gouges
Olympe de Gouges , born Marie Gouze, was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionist writings reached a large audience....

 had published her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen , also known as the Declaration of the Rights of Woman, was written in 1791 by French activist and playwright Olympe de Gouges...

, and the question of women's rights became central to political debates in both France and Britain.

The Rights of Woman is an extension of Wollstonecraft's arguments in the Rights of Men. In the Rights of Men, as the title suggests, she is concerned with the rights of particular men (18th-century British men) while in the Rights of Woman, she is concerned with the rights afforded to "woman", an abstract category. She does not isolate her argument to 18th-century women or British women. The first chapter of the Rights of Woman addresses the issue of natural rights
Natural rights
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

 and asks who has those inalienable rights and on what grounds. She answers that since natural rights are given by God, for one segment of society to deny them to another segment is a sin. The Rights of Woman thus engages not only specific events in France and in Britain but also larger questions being raised by contemporary political philosophers
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

 such as John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 and Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

.

Themes


Wollstonecraft did not employ the formal argumentation or logical prose style common to 18th-century philosophical writing when composing her own works. The Rights of Woman is a long essay that introduces all of its major topics in the opening chapters and then repeatedly returns to them, each time from a different point of view. It also adopts a hybrid tone that combines rational argument with the fervent rhetoric of sensibility
Sensibility
Sensibility refers to an acute perception of or responsiveness toward something, such as the emotions of another. This concept emerged in eighteenth-century Britain, and was closely associated with studies of sense perception as the means through which knowledge is gathered...

.

In the 18th century, sensibility was a physical phenomenon that came to be attached to a specific set of moral beliefs. Physicians and anatomists believed that the more sensitive people's nerves, the more emotionally affected they would be by their surroundings. Since women were thought to have keener nerves than men, it was also believed that women were more emotional than men. The emotional excess associated with sensibility also theoretically produced an ethic of compassion: those with sensibility could easily sympathize with people in pain. Thus historians have credited the discourse of sensibility and those who promoted it with the increased humanitarian efforts, such as the movement to abolish the slave trade
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

. But sensibility also paralyzed those who had too much of it; as scholar G. J. Barker-Benfield explains, "an innate refinement of nerves was also identifiable with greater suffering, with weakness, and a susceptibility to disorder".

By the time Wollstonecraft was writing the Rights of Woman, sensibility had already been under sustained attack for a number of years. Sensibility, which had initially promised to draw individuals together through sympathy, was now viewed as "profoundly separatist"; novels, plays, and poems that employed the language of sensibility asserted individual rights, sexual freedom, and unconventional familial relationships based only upon feeling. Furthermore, as Janet Todd
Janet Todd
Janet Margaret Todd is a Welsh-born academic and a well-respected author of many books on women in literature. Todd was educated at Cambridge University and the University of Florida, where she undertook a doctorate on the poet John Clare...

, another scholar of sensibility, argues, “to many in Britain the cult of sensibility seemed to have feminized the nation, given women undue prominence, and emasculated men.”

Rational education


One of Wollstonecraft's central arguments in the Rights of Woman is that women should be educated rationally in order to give them the opportunity to contribute to society. In the 18th century, it was often assumed by both educational philosophers and conduct book
Conduct book
Conduct books are a genre of books that attempt to educate the reader on social norms. As a genre, they began in the mid-to-late Middle Ages, although antecedents such as The Maxims of Ptahhotep are among the earliest surviving works...

 writers, who wrote what one might think of as early self-help books, that women were incapable of rational or abstract thought. Women, it was believed, were too susceptible to sensibility and too fragile to be able to think clearly. Wollstonecraft, along with other female reformers such as Catharine Macaulay and Hester Chapone
Hester Chapone
Hester Chapone , writer of conduct books for women, was born on 27 October 1727 at Twywell, Northamptonshire,The daughter of Thomas Mulso , a gentleman farmer, and his wife , a daughter of Colonel Thomas, Hester wrote a romance at the age of nine, 'The Loves of Amoret and Melissa', which earned...

, maintained that women were indeed capable of rational thought and deserved to be educated. She argued this point in her own conduct book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters
Thoughts on the Education of Daughters
Thoughts on the education of daughters: with reflections on female conduct, in the more important duties of life is the first published work of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Published in 1787 by her friend Joseph Johnson, Thoughts is a conduct book that offers advice on female education...

(1787), in her children's book, Original Stories from Real Life
Original Stories from Real Life
Original Stories from Real Life; with Conversations Calculated to Regulate the Affections, and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness is the only complete work of children's literature by 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Original Stories begins with a frame story, which sketches out...

(1788), as well as in the Rights of Woman.

Stating in her preface that “my main argument is built on this simple principle, that if [woman] be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue; for truth must be common to all", Wollstonecraft contends that society will degenerate without educated women, particularly because mothers are the primary educators of young children. She attributes the problem of uneducated women to men and “a false system of education, gathered from the books written on this subject by men who [consider] females rather as women than human creatures". Women are capable of rationality; it only appears that they are not, because men have refused to educate them and encouraged them to be frivolous (Wollstonecraft describes silly women as "spaniels" and "toys"). While stressing it is of the same kind, she entertains the notion that women might not be able to attain the same degree of knowledge that men do.

Wollstonecraft attacks conduct book writers such as James Fordyce
James Fordyce
James Fordyce, DD , was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and poet. He is best known for his collection of sermons published in 1766 as Sermons for Young Women, popularly known as Fordyce's Sermons.-Early life:...

 and John Gregory
John Gregory (moralist)
John Gregory , a.k.a. John Gregorie, was an eighteenth-century Scottish physician, medical writer and moralist....

 as well as educational philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

 who argue that a woman does not need a rational education. (Rousseau famously argues in Emile
Emile: Or, On Education
Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was be...

(1762) that women should be educated for the pleasure of men; Wollstonecraft, infuriated by this argument, attacks not only it but also Rousseau himself.) Intent on illustrating the limitations that contemporary educational theory placed upon women, Wollstonecraft writes, "taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and, roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison", implying that without this damaging ideology, which encourages young women to focus their attention on beauty and outward accomplishments, they could achieve much more. Wives could be the rational "companions" of their husbands and even pursue careers should they so choose: "women might certainly study the art of healing, and be physicians as well as nurses. And midwifery, decency seems to allot to them . . . they might, also, study politics . . . Business of various kinds, they might likewise pursue."

For Wollstonecraft, "the most perfect education" is "an exercise of the understanding as is best calculated to strengthen the body and form the heart. Or, in other words, to enable the individual to attach such habits of virtue as will render it independent.” In addition to her broad philosophical arguments, Wollstonecraft lays out a specific plan for national education to counter Talleyrand's. In Chapter 12, "On National Education", she proposes that all children be sent to a "country day school" as well as given some education at home "to inspire a love of home and domestic pleasures". She also maintains that schooling should be co-educational
Coeducation
Mixed-sex education, also known as coeducation or co-education, is the integrated education of male and female persons in the same institution. It is the opposite of single-sex education...

, contending that men and women, whose marriages are "the cement of society", should be "educated after the same model".

Feminism



It is debatable to what extent the Rights of Woman is a feminist text; because the definitions of feminist vary, different scholars have come to different conclusions. Wollstonecraft would never have referred to her text as feminist because the words feminist and feminism were not coined until the 1890s. Moreover, there was no feminist movement
Feminist movement
The feminist movement refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment and sexual violence...

 to speak of during Wollstonecraft's lifetime. In the introduction to her seminal work on Wollstonecraft's thought, Barbara Taylor
Barbara Taylor
Barbara Taylor is a Canadian-born British-based historian and historical author specialising in Enlightenment history, gender studies, and the history of subjectivity. She is Professor of Modern History at the University of East London...

 writes:

Describing [Wollstonecraft's philosophy] as feminist is problematic, and I do it only after much consideration. The label is of course anachronistic . . . Treating Wollstonecraft’s thought as an anticipation of nineteenth and twentieth-century feminist argument has meant sacrificing or distorting some of its key elements. Leading examples of this . . . have been the widespread neglect of her religious beliefs, and the misrepresentation of her as a bourgeois liberal, which together have resulted in the displacement of a religiously inspired utopian radicalism by a secular, class-partisan reformism as alien to Wollstonecraft’s political project as her dream of a divinely promised age of universal happiness is to our own. Even more important however has been the imposition on Wollstonecraft of a heroic-individualist brand of politics utterly at odds with her own ethically driven case for women’s emancipation. Wollstonecraft’s leading ambition for women was that they should attain virtue, and it was to this end that she sought their liberation.

In the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft does not make the claim for gender equality using the same arguments or the same language that late 19th- and 20th century feminists later would. For instance, rather than unequivocally stating that men and women are equal, Wollstonecraft contends that men and women are equal in the eyes of God, which means that they are both subject to the same moral law. For Wollstonecraft, men and women are equal in the most important areas of life. While such an idea may not seem revolutionary to 21st-century readers, its implications were revolutionary during the 18th century. For example, it implied that both men and women—not just women—should be modest and respect the sanctity of marriage. Wollstonecraft's argument exposed the sexual double standard of the late 18th century and demanded that men adhere to the same virtues demanded of women.

However, Wollstonecraft's arguments for equality stand in contrast to her statements respecting the superiority of masculine strength and valour. Wollstonecraft famously and ambiguously states:

Let it not be concluded, that I wish to invert the order of things; I have already granted, that, from the constitution of their bodies, men seem to be designed by Providence to attain a greater degree of virtue. I speak collectively of the whole sex; but I see not the shadow of a reason to conclude that their virtues should differ in respect to their nature. In fact, how can they, if virtue has only one eternal standard? I must therefore, if I reason consequentially, as strenuously maintain that they have the same simple direction, as that there is a God.


Moreover, Wollstonecraft calls on men, rather than women, to initiate the social and political changes she outlines in the Rights of Woman. Because women are uneducated, they cannot alter their own situation—men must come to their aid. Wollstonecraft writes at the end of her chapter "Of the Pernicious Effects Which Arise from the Unnatural Distinctions Established in Society":

I then would fain convince reasonable men of the importance of some of my remarks; and prevail on them to weigh dispassionately the whole tenor of my observations. – I appeal to their understandings; and, as a fellow-creature, claim, in the name of my sex, some interest in their hearts. I entreat them to assist to emancipate their companion, to make her a help meet for them! Would men but generously snap our chains, and be content with rational fellowship instead of slavish obedience, they would find us more observant daughters, more affectionate sisters, more faithful wives, more reasonable mothers – in a word, better citizens.

It is Wollstonecraft's last novel, Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman
Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman
Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman is the 18th century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft's unfinished novelistic sequel to her revolutionary political treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman...

(1798), the fictionalized sequel to the Rights of Woman, that is usually considered her most radical feminist work.

Sensibility


One of Wollstonecraft's most scathing criticisms in the Rights of Woman is against false and excessive sensibility
Sensibility
Sensibility refers to an acute perception of or responsiveness toward something, such as the emotions of another. This concept emerged in eighteenth-century Britain, and was closely associated with studies of sense perception as the means through which knowledge is gathered...

, particularly in women. She argues that women who succumb to sensibility are "blown about by every momentary gust of feeling"; because these women are "the prey of their senses", they cannot think rationally. In fact, not only do they do harm to themselves but they also do harm to all of civilization: these are not women who can refine civilization – these are women who will destroy it. But reason and feeling are not independent for Wollstonecraft; rather, she believes that they should inform each other. For Wollstonecraft, as for the important 18th-century philosopher David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

, the passions underpin all reason. This was a theme that she would return to throughout her career, but particularly in her novels Mary: A Fiction
Mary: A Fiction
Mary: A Fiction is the only complete novel by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. It tells the tragic story of a heroine's successive "romantic friendships" with a woman and a man...

(1788) and Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman
Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman
Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman is the 18th century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft's unfinished novelistic sequel to her revolutionary political treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman...

.

As part of her argument that women should not be overly influenced by their feelings, Wollstonecraft emphasizes that they should not be constrained by or made slaves to their bodies or their sexual feelings. This particular argument has led many modern feminists to suggest that Wollstonecraft intentionally avoids granting women any sexual desire. Cora Kaplan argues that the "negative and prescriptive assault on female sexuality" is a "leitmotif
Leitmotif
A leitmotif , sometimes written leit-motif, is a musical term , referring to a recurring theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea. It is closely related to the musical idea of idée fixe...

" of the Rights of Woman. For example, Wollstonecraft advises her readers to "calmly let passion subside into friendship" in the ideal companionate marriage (that is, in the ideal of a love-based marriage that was developing at the time). It would be better, she writes, when “two virtuous young people marry . . . if some circumstances checked their passion”. According to Wollstonecraft, “love and friendship cannot subsist in the same bosom". As Mary Poovey explains, “Wollstonecraft betrays her fear that female desire might in fact court man’s lascivious and degrading attentions, that the subordinate position women have been given might even be deserved. Until women can transcend their fleshly desires and fleshly forms, they will be hostage to the body.” If women are not interested in sexuality, they cannot be dominated by men. Wollstonecraft worries that women are consumed with "romantic wavering", that is, they are interested only in satisfying their lusts. Because the Rights of Woman eliminates sexuality from a woman's life, Kaplan contends, it “expresses a violent antagonism to the sexual" while at the same time "exaggerat[ing] the importance of the sensual in the everyday life of women". Wollstonecraft was so determined to wipe sexuality from her picture of the ideal woman that she ended up foregrounding it by insisting upon its absence. But as Kaplan and others have remarked, Wollstonecraft may have been forced to make this sacrifice: "it is important to remember that the notion of woman as politically enabled and independent [was] fatally linked [during the eighteenth century] to the unrestrained and vicious exercise of her sexuality."

Republicanism



Claudia Johnson
Claudia L. Johnson (scholar)
Claudia L. Johnson is the Murray Professor of English Literature at Princeton University; she is also currently chairperson of the English department. Johnson specializes in Restoration and 18th-century British literature, with an especial focus on the novel. She is also interested in feminist...

, a prominent Wollstonecraft scholar, has called the Rights of Woman "a republican manifesto". Johnson contends that Wollstonecraft is hearkening back to the Commonwealth
Commonwealth men
The Commonwealth men, Commonwealth's men, or Commonwealth Party were highly outspoken British Protestant religious, political, and economic reformers during the early 18th century. They were active in the movement called the Country Party...

 tradition of the 17th century and attempting to reestablish a republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 ethos. In Wollstonecraft's version, there would be strong, but separate, masculine and feminine roles for citizens. According to Johnson, Wollstonecraft "denounces the collapse of proper sexual distinction as the leading feature of her age, and as the grievous consequence of sentimentality itself. The problem undermining society in her view is feminized men". If men feel free to adopt both the masculine position and the sentimental feminine position, she argues, women have no position open to them in society. Johnson therefore sees Wollstonecraft as a critic, in both the Rights of Men
A Vindication of the Rights of Men
A Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; Occasioned by His Reflections on the Revolution in France is a political pamphlet, written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, which attacks aristocracy and advocates republicanism...

and the Rights of Woman, of the "masculinization of sensitivity" in such works as Edmund Burke's
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

 Reflections on the Revolution in France
Reflections on the Revolution in France
Reflections on the Revolution in France , by Edmund Burke, is one of the best-known intellectual attacks against the French Revolution...

.

In the Rights of Woman Wollstonecraft adheres to a version of republicanism that includes a belief in the eventual overthrow of all titles, including the monarchy. She also briefly suggests that all men and women should be represented in government. But the bulk of her “political criticism,” as Chris Jones, a Wollstonecraft scholar, explains, “is couched predominantly in terms of morality". Her definition of virtue focuses on the individual’s happiness rather than, for example, the good of the entire society. This is reflected in her explanation of natural rights
Natural rights
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

. Because rights ultimately proceed from God, Wollstonecraft maintains that there are duties, tied to those rights, incumbent upon each and every person. For Wollstonecraft, the individual is taught republicanism and benevolence within the family; domestic relations and familial ties are crucial to her understanding of social cohesion and patriotism.

Class


In many ways the Rights of Woman is inflected by a bourgeois
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 view of the world, as is its direct predecessor the Rights of Men
A Vindication of the Rights of Men
A Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; Occasioned by His Reflections on the Revolution in France is a political pamphlet, written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, which attacks aristocracy and advocates republicanism...

. Wollstonecraft addresses her text to the middle class, which she calls the "most natural state". She also frequently praises modesty and industry, virtues which, at the time, were associated with the middle class. From her position as a middle-class writer arguing for a middle-class ethos, Wollstonecraft also attacks the wealthy, criticizing them using the same arguments she employs against women. She points out the "false-refinement, immorality, and vanity" of the rich, calling them "weak, artificial beings, raised above the common wants and affections of their race, in a premature unnatural manner [who] undermine the very foundation of virtue, and spread corruption through the whole mass of society".

But Wollstonecraft's criticisms of the wealthy do not necessarily reflect a concomitant sympathy for the poor. For her, the poor are fortunate because they will never be trapped by the snares of wealth: “Happy is it when people have the cares of life to struggle with; for these struggles prevent their becoming a prey to enervating vices, merely from idleness!” Moreover, she contends that charity has only negative consequences because, as Jones puts it, she “sees it as sustaining an unequal society while giving the appearance of virtue to the rich".

In her national plan for education, she retains class distinctions (with an exception for the intelligent), suggesting that: "After the age of nine, girls and boys, intended for domestic employments, or mechanical trades, ought to be removed to other schools, and receive instruction, in some measure appropriated to the destination of each individual . . . The young people of superior abilities, or fortune, might now be taught, in another school, the dead and living languages, the elements of science, and continue the study of history and politics, on a more extensive scale, which would not exclude polite literature."

Rhetoric and style



In attempting to navigate the cultural expectations of female writers and the generic conventions of political and philosophical discourse, Wollstonecraft, as she does throughout her oeuvre, constructs a unique blend of masculine and feminine styles in the Rights of Woman. She utilizes the language of philosophy, referring to her work as a "treatise" with "arguments" and "principles". However, Wollstonecraft also uses a personal tone, employing "I" and "you", dashes and exclamation marks, and autobiographical references to create a distinctly feminine voice in the text. The Rights of Woman further hybridizes its genre by weaving together elements of the conduct book, the short essay, and the novel, genres often associated with women, while at the same time claiming that these genres could be used to discuss philosophical topics such as rights.

Although Wollstonecraft argues against excessive sensibility
Sensibility
Sensibility refers to an acute perception of or responsiveness toward something, such as the emotions of another. This concept emerged in eighteenth-century Britain, and was closely associated with studies of sense perception as the means through which knowledge is gathered...

, the rhetoric of the Rights of Woman is at times heated and attempts to provoke the reader. Many of the most emotional comments in the book are directed at Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

. For example, after excerpting a long passage from Emile
Emile: Or, On Education
Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was be...

(1762), Wollstonecraft pithily states, "I shall make no other comments on this ingenious passage, than just to observe, that it is the philosophy of lasciviousness." A mere page later, after indicting Rousseau's plan for female education, she writes "I must relieve myself by drawing another picture." These terse exclamations are meant to draw the reader to her side of the argument (it is assumed that the reader will agree with them). While she claims to write in a plain style so that her ideas will reach the broadest possible audience, she actually combines the plain, rational language of the political treatise with the poetic, passionate language of sensibility in order to demonstrate that one can combine rationality and sensibility in the same self. Wollstonecraft defends her positions not only with reasoned argument but also with ardent rhetoric.

In her efforts to vividly describe the condition of women within society, Wollstonecraft employs several different analogies. She often compares women to slaves, arguing that their ignorance and powerlessness places them in that position. But at the same time, she also compares them to "capricious tyrants" who use cunning and deceit to manipulate the men around them. At one point, she reasons that a woman can become either a slave or tyrant, which she describes as two sides of the same coin. Wollstonecraft also compares women to soldiers; like military men, they are valued only for their appearance. And like the rich, women's "softness" has "debased mankind".

Revision


Wollstonecraft was forced to write the Rights of Woman hurriedly in order to respond to Talleyrand and ongoing events. Upon completing the work, she wrote to her friend William Roscoe
William Roscoe
William Roscoe , was an English historian and miscellaneous writer.-Life:He was born in Liverpool, where his father, a market gardener, kept a public house called the Bowling Green at Mount Pleasant. Roscoe left school at the age of twelve, having learned all that his schoolmaster could teach...

: "I am dissatisfied with myself for not having done justice to the subject. – Do not suspect me of false modesty – I mean to say that had I allowed myself more time I could have written a better book, in every sense of the word . . . I intend to finish the next volume before I begin to print, for it is not pleasant to have the Devil coming for the conclusion of a sheet fore it is written." When Wollstonecraft revised the Rights of Woman for the second edition, she took the opportunity not only to fix small spelling and grammar mistakes but also to bolster the feminist claims of her argument. She changed some of her statements regarding female and male difference to reflect a greater equality between the sexes.

Wollstonecraft never wrote the second part to the Rights of Woman, although William Godwin
William Godwin
William Godwin was an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism...

 published her "Hints", which were "chiefly designed to have been incorporated in the second part of the Vindication of the Rights of Woman", in the posthumous collection of her works. However, she did begin writing the novel Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman
Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman
Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman is the 18th century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft's unfinished novelistic sequel to her revolutionary political treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman...

, which most scholars consider a fictionalized sequel to the Rights of Woman. It was unfinished at her death and also included in the Posthumous Works published by Godwin.

Reception and legacy



When it was first published in 1792, the Rights of Woman was reviewed favourably by the Analytical Review
Analytical Review
The Analytical Review was a periodical established in London in 1788 by the publisher Joseph Johnson and the writer Thomas Christie. Part of the Republic of Letters, it was a gadfly publication, which offered readers summaries and analyses of the many new publications issued at the end of the...

, the General Magazine, the Literary Magazine, New York Magazine, and the Monthly Review, although the assumption persists even today that Rights of Woman received hostile reviews. It was almost immediately released in a second edition in 1792, several American editions appeared, and it was translated into French. Taylor writes that "it was an immediate success". Moreover, other writers such as Mary Hays
Mary Hays
Mary Hays was an English novelist and feminist.- Early years :Mary Hays was born in Southwark, London on Oct. 13, 1759. Almost nothing is known of her first 17 years. In 1779 she fell in love with John Eccles who lived on Gainsford Street, where she also lived. Their parents opposed the match but...

 and Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson (poet)
Mary Robinson was an English poet and novelist. During her lifetime she is known as 'the English Sappho'...

 specifically alluded to Wollstonecraft's text in their own works. Hays cited the Rights of Woman in her novel Memoirs of Emma Courtney
Memoirs of Emma Courtney
Memoirs of Emma Courtney is an epistolary novel by Mary Hays, first published in 1796. The novel is partly autobiographical and based on the author's own unrequited love for William Frend . Mary Hay's relationship with William Godwin is reflected through her eponymous heroine's philosophical...

(1796) and modelled her female characters after Wollstonecraft's ideal woman. Although female conservatives such as Hannah More
Hannah More
Hannah More was an English religious writer, and philanthropist. She can be said to have made three reputations in the course of her long life: as a poet and playwright in the circle of Johnson, Reynolds and Garrick, as a writer on moral and religious subjects, and as a practical...

 excoriated Wollstonecraft personally, they actually shared many of the same values. As the scholar Anne Mellor has shown, both More and Wollstonecraft wanted a society founded on “Christian virtues of rational benevolence, honesty, personal virtue, the fulfillment of social duty, thrift, sobriety, and hard work". During the early 1790s, many writers within British society were engaged in an intense debate regarding the position of women in society. For example, the respected poet and essayist Anna Laetitia Barbauld
Anna Laetitia Barbauld
Anna Laetitia Barbauld was a prominent English poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and children's author.A "woman of letters" who published in multiple genres, Barbauld had a successful writing career at a time when female professional writers were rare...

 and Wollstonecraft sparred back and forth; Barbauld published several poems responding to Wollstonecraft’s work and Wollstonecraft commented on them in footnotes to the Rights of Woman. The work also provoked outright hostility. The bluestocking
Bluestocking
A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman. Until the late 18th century, the term had referred to learned people of both sexes. However it subsequently was applied primarily to intellectual women, and the French equivalent bas bleu had a similar connotation. The term later developed...

 Elizabeth Carter
Elizabeth Carter
Elizabeth Carter was an English poet, classicist, writer and translator, and a member of the Bluestocking Circle.-Biography:...

 was unimpressed with the work. Thomas Taylor, the Neoplatonist translator who had been a landlord to the Wollstonecraft family in the late 1770s, swiftly wrote a satire called A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes: if women have rights, why not animals too
Animal rights
Animal rights, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings...

?

After Wollstonecraft died in 1797, her husband William Godwin
William Godwin
William Godwin was an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism...

 published his Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is William Godwin's biography of his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ....

(1798). He revealed much about her private life that had previously not been known to the public: her illegitimate child, her love affairs, and her attempts at suicide. While Godwin believed he was portraying his wife with love, sincerity, and compassion, contemporary readers were shocked by Wollstonecraft's unorthodox lifestyle and she became a reviled figure. Richard Polwhele
Richard Polwhele
Richard Polwhele was a Cornish clergyman, poet and topographer.-Biography:Born at Truro, Cornwall, Polwhele met literary luminaries Catharine Macaulay and Hannah More at an early age. He was educated at Truro Grammar School, where he precociously published The Fate of Llewellyn...

 targeted her in particular in his anonymous long poem The Unsex'd Females
The Unsex'd Females
The Unsex'd Females, a Poem , by Richard Polwhele, is a polemical intervention into the public debates over the role of women at the end of the 18th century. The poem is primarily concerned with what Polwhele characterizes as the encroachment of radical French political and philosophical ideas into...

(1798), a defensive reaction to women's literary self-assertion: Hannah More is Christ to Wollstonecraft's Satan. His poem was "well known" among the responses A Vindication. One reviewer comments this "ingenious poem" with its "playful sallies of sarcastic wit" against "our modern ladies," though others found it "a tedious, lifeless piece of writing." Critical responses largely fell along clear-cut political lines.

Wollstonecraft’s ideas became associated with her life story and women writers felt that it was dangerous to mention her in their texts. Hays, who had previously been a close friend and an outspoken advocate for Wollstonecraft and her Rights of Woman, for example, did not include her in the collection of Illustrious and Celebrated Women she published in 1803. Maria Edgeworth
Maria Edgeworth
Maria Edgeworth was a prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adults' and children's literature. She was one of the first realist writers in children's literature and was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel in Europe...

 specifically distances herself from Wollstonecraft in her novel Belinda
Belinda (Edgeworth novel)
Belinda is an 1801 novel by the Irish writer Maria Edgeworth. It was first published in three volumes by Joseph Johnson of London in 1801, and was later reprinted by Pandora Press in 1986...

(1802); she caricatures Wollstonecraft as a radical feminist in the character of Harriet Freke. But, like Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

, she does not reject Wollstonecraft’s ideas. Both Edgeworth and Austen argue that women are crucial to the development of the nation; moreover, they portray women as rational beings who should choose companionate marriage.

The negative views towards Wollstonecraft persisted for over a century. The Rights of Woman was not reprinted until the middle of the 19th century and it still retained an aura of ill-repute. George Eliot
George Eliot
Mary Anne Evans , better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era...

 wrote "there is in some quarters a vague prejudice against the Rights of Woman as in some way or other a reprehensible book, but readers who go to it with this impression will be surprised to find it eminently serious, severely moral, and withal rather heavy".
The suffragist (i.e. moderate reformer, as opposed to suffragette
Suffragette
"Suffragette" is a term coined by the Daily Mail newspaper as a derogatory label for members of the late 19th and early 20th century movement for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, in particular members of the Women's Social and Political Union...

) Millicent Garrett Fawcett wrote the introduction to the centenary edition of the Rights of Woman, cleansing the memory of Wollstonecraft and claiming her as the foremother of the struggle for the vote. While the Rights of Woman may have paved the way for feminist arguments, 20th century feminists have tended to use Wollstonecraft's life story, rather than her texts, for inspiration; her unorthodox lifestyle convinced them to try new "experiments in living", as Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

 termed it in her famous essay on Wollstonecraft. However, there is some evidence that the Rights of Woman may be influencing current feminists. Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Magan Ali is a Somali-Dutch feminist and atheist activist, writer, politician who strongly opposes circumcision and female genital cutting. She is the daughter of the Somali politician and opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse and is a founder of the women's rights organisation the AHA...

, a feminist who is critical of Islam's dictates regarding women, cites the Rights of Woman in her autobiography Infidel
Infidel (book)
Infidel , a New York Times bestseller, is the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, originally written in English together with an English-language ghost-writer. Because of publisher agreements the book first appeared in a Dutch translation as Mijn Vrijheid , released on September 29, 2006...

, writing that she was "inspired by Mary Wollstonecraft, the pioneering feminist thinker who told women they had the same ability to reason as men did and deserved the same rights".

Modern reprints

  • Wollstonecraft, Mary
    Mary Wollstonecraft
    Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book...

    . The Complete Works of Mary Wollstonecraft. Ed. Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler. 7 vols. London: William Pickering, 1989. ISBN 0-8147-9225-1.
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. The Vindications: The Rights of Men and The Rights of Woman. Eds. D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf. Toronto: Broadview Literary Texts, 1997. ISBN 1-55111-088-1
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. Miriam Brody Kramnick. Rev. ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2004. ISBN 0-14-144125-9.
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. Deidre Shauna Lynch. 3rd ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2009. ISBN 0-393-92974-4.
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Men and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. Sylvana Tomaselli. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 1995. ISBN 0-521-43633-8.

Contemporary reviews

  • Analytical Review
    Analytical Review
    The Analytical Review was a periodical established in London in 1788 by the publisher Joseph Johnson and the writer Thomas Christie. Part of the Republic of Letters, it was a gadfly publication, which offered readers summaries and analyses of the many new publications issued at the end of the...

    12 (1792): 241–249; 13 (1792): 418–489.
  • Christian Miscellany 1 (1792): 209–212.
  • Critical Review
    The Critical Review
    The Critical Review was first edited by Tobias Smollett from 1756 to 1763, and was contributed to by Samuel Johnson, David Hume, John Hunter, and Oliver Goldsmith, until 1817....

    New Series 4 (1792): 389–398; 5 (1792): 132–141.
  • General Magazine and Imperial Review 6.2 (1792): 187–191.
  • Literary Magazine and British Review 8 (1792); 133–139.
  • Monthly Review New Series 8 (1792): 198–209.
  • New Annual Register 13 (1792): 298.
  • New-York Magazine 4 (1793): 77–81.
  • Scots Magazine
    The Scots Magazine
    The Scots Magazine is a magazine containing articles on subjects of Scottish interest. It is the oldest magazine in the world still in publication although there have been several gaps in its publication history...

    54 (1792): 284–290.
  • Sentimental and Masonic Magazine 1 (1792): 63–72.
  • Town and Country Magazine
    Town & Country (magazine)
    Town & Country, formerly the Home Journal and The National Press, is a monthly American lifestyle magazine. It is the oldest continually published general interest magazine in the United States.-Early history:...

    24 (1792): 279.

Secondary sources

  • Barker-Benfield, G.J. The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
    University of Chicago Press
    The University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the United States. It is operated by the University of Chicago and publishes a wide variety of academic titles, including The Chicago Manual of Style, dozens of academic journals, including Critical Inquiry, and a wide array of...

    , 1992. ISBN 0-226-03714-2.
  • Gordon, Lyndall. Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Great Britain: Virago, 2005. ISBN 1-84408-141-9.
  • Janes, R.M. "On the Reception of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman". Journal of the History of Ideas 39 (1978): 293–302.
  • Johnson, Claudia L.
    Claudia L. Johnson (scholar)
    Claudia L. Johnson is the Murray Professor of English Literature at Princeton University; she is also currently chairperson of the English department. Johnson specializes in Restoration and 18th-century British literature, with an especial focus on the novel. She is also interested in feminist...

     Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. ISBN 0-226-40184-7.
  • Jones, Chris. "Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindications and their political tradition". The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-521-78952-4.
  • Kaplan, Cora. "Mary Wollstonecraft’s reception and legacies". The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-521-78952-4.
  • Kaplan, Cora. "Pandora's Box: Subjectivity, Class and Sexuality in Socialist Feminist Criticism". Sea Changes: Essays on Culture and Feminism. London: Verso, 1986. ISBN 0-86091-151-9.
  • Kaplan, Cora. “Wild Nights: Pleasure/Sexuality/Feminism". Sea Changes: Essays on Culture and Feminism. London: Verso, 1986. ISBN 0-86091-151-9.
  • Kelly, Gary. Revolutionary Feminism: The Mind and Career of Mary Wollstonecraft. New York: St. Martin's, 1992. ISBN 0-312-12904-1.
  • Mellor, Anne K.
    Anne K. Mellor
    Anne Kostelanetz Mellor is a Distinguished Professor of English Literature and Women's Studies at UCLA; she specializes in Romantic literature, British cultural history, feminist theory, philosophy, art history and gender studies...

     "Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and the women writers of her day". The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-521-78952-4.
  • Poovey, Mary. The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. ISBN 0-226-67528-9.
  • Sapiro, Virginia. A Vindication of Political Virtue: The Political Theory of Mary Wollstonecraft. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. ISBN 0-226-73491-9.
  • Sunstein, Emily W. A Different Face: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. New York: Harper and Row, 1975. ISBN 0-06-014201-4.
  • Taylor, Barbara. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-66144-7.
  • Todd, Janet
    Janet Todd
    Janet Margaret Todd is a Welsh-born academic and a well-respected author of many books on women in literature. Todd was educated at Cambridge University and the University of Florida, where she undertook a doctorate on the poet John Clare...

    . Sensibility: An introduction. London: Methuen, 1986. ISBN 0-416-37720-3.
  • Wardle, Ralph M. Mary Wollstonecraft: A Critical Biography. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press
    University of Nebraska Press
    The University of Nebraska Press, founded in 1941, is a publisher of scholarly and popular-press books. It is the second-largest state university press in the United States and, including private institutions, ranks among the 10 largest university presses in the United States...

    , 1951.

External links