Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft

Overview
Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative
Travel literature
Travel literature is travel writing of literary value. Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary. Travel literature may be cross-cultural or transnational in focus, or...

, a history 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...

, a 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...

, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects , written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th...

(1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing.
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Quotations

Nothing, I am sure, calls forth the faculties so much as the being obliged to struggle with the world.

Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, Matrimony (1787)

You know I am not born to tread in the beaten track — the peculiar bent of my nature pushes me on.

Letter to Everina Wollstonecraft, November 7, 1787.

No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)

Virtue can only flourish amongst equals.

A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)

Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.

The French Revolution, Bk. V, ch. 4 (1794)

The endeavor to keep alive any hoary establishment beyond its natural date is often pernicious and always useless.

The French Revolution, Bk. V, ch. 4 (1794)

I write in a hurry, because the little one, who has been sleeping a long time, begins to call for me. Poor thing! when I am sad, I lament that all my affections grow on me, till they become too strong for my peace, though they all afford me snatches of exquisite enjoyment.

Letter to Gilbert Imlay|Gilbert Imlay, August 19, 1794.

Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.

Dedication

Till women are more rationally educated, the progress in human virtue and improvement in knowledge must receive continual checks.

Ch. 3
Encyclopedia
Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative
Travel literature
Travel literature is travel writing of literary value. Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary. Travel literature may be cross-cultural or transnational in focus, or...

, a history 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...

, a 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...

, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects , written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th...

(1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing. After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli
Henry Fuseli
Henry Fuseli was a British painter, draughtsman, and writer on art, of Swiss origin.-Biography:...

 and Gilbert Imlay
Gilbert Imlay
Gilbert Imlay was an American businessman, author, and diplomat. Imlay was known in his day as a shrewd but unscrupulous businessman involved in land speculation in Kentucky. He later served in the U.S...

 (by whom she had a daughter, Fanny Imlay
Fanny Imlay
Frances "Fanny" Imlay , also known as Fanny Godwin, was the illegitimate daughter of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the American commercial speculator Gilbert Imlay.Although Mary Wollstonecraft and Gilbert Imlay lived together happily for brief periods before and after the birth...

), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher 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...

, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. Wollstonecraft died at the age of thirty-eight, ten days after giving birth to her second daughter, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. Her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

, the author of Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

, would become an accomplished writer herself.

After Wollstonecraft's death, her widower published a Memoir
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) of her life, revealing her unorthodox lifestyle, which inadvertently destroyed her reputation for almost a century. However, with the emergence of the 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...

 at the turn of the twentieth century, Wollstonecraft's advocacy of women's equality and critiques of conventional femininity became increasingly important. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers
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...

, and feminists often cite both her life and work as important influences.

Early life


Wollstonecraft was born on 27 April 1759 in Spitalfields
Spitalfields
Spitalfields is a former parish in the borough of Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London, near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane. The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to many markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields Market, founded in the 17th century, Sunday...

, London. She was the second of the seven children of Edward John Wollstonecraft and Elizabeth Dixon. Although her family had a comfortable income when she was a child, her father gradually squandered it on speculative projects. Consequently, the family became financially unstable and they were frequently forced to move during Wollstonecraft's youth. The family's financial situation eventually became so dire that Wollstonecraft's father compelled her to turn over money that she would have inherited at her maturity. Moreover, he was apparently a violent man who would beat his wife in drunken rages. As a teenager, Wollstonecraft used to lie outside the door of her mother's bedroom to protect her. Wollstonecraft played a similar maternal role for her sisters, Everina and Eliza, throughout her life. For example, in a defining moment in 1784, she convinced Eliza, who was suffering from what was probably postpartum depression
Postpartum depression
Postpartum depression , also called postnatal depression, is a form of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, typically after childbirth. Studies report prevalence rates among women from 5% to 25%, but methodological differences among the studies make the actual...

, to leave her husband and infant; Wollstonecraft made all of the arrangements for Eliza to flee, demonstrating her willingness to challenge social norms. The human costs, however, were severe: her sister suffered social condemnation and, because she could not remarry, was doomed to a life of poverty and hard work.

Two friendships shaped Wollstonecraft's early life. The first was with Jane Arden in Beverley
Beverley
Beverley is a market town, civil parish and the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, located between the River Hull and the Westwood. The town is noted for Beverley Minster and architecturally-significant religious buildings along New Walk and other areas, as well as the Beverley...

. The two frequently read books together and attended lectures presented by Arden's father, a self-styled philosopher and scientist. Wollstonecraft revelled in the intellectual atmosphere of the Arden household and valued her friendship with Arden greatly, sometimes to the point of being emotionally possessive. Wollstonecraft wrote to her: "I have formed romantic notions of friendship... I am a little singular in my thoughts of love and friendship; I must have the first place or none." In some of Wollstonecraft's letters to Arden, she reveals the volatile and depressive emotions that would haunt her throughout her life.

The second and more important friendship was with Fanny Blood, introduced to Wollstonecraft by the Clares, a couple in Hoxton
Hoxton
Hoxton is an area in the London Borough of Hackney, immediately north of the financial district of the City of London. The area of Hoxton is bordered by Regent's Canal on the north side, Wharf Road and City Road on the west, Old Street on the south, and Kingsland Road on the east.Hoxton is also a...

 who became parental figures to her; Wollstonecraft credited Blood with opening her mind. Unhappy with her home life, Wollstonecraft struck out on her own in 1778 and accepted a job as a lady's companion
Lady's companion
A lady's companion was a woman of genteel birth who acted as a paid companion for women of rank or wealth. The term was in use in the United Kingdom from at least the 18th century to the mid 20th century. It was related to the position of lady-in-waiting, which by the 19th century was only applied...

 to Sarah Dawson, a widow living in Bath. However, Wollstonecraft had trouble getting along with the irascible woman (an experience she drew on when describing the drawbacks of such a position in 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 1780 she returned home, called back to care for her dying mother. Rather than return to Dawson's employ after the death of her mother, Wollstonecraft moved in with the Bloods. She realised during the two years she spent with the family that she had idealised Blood, who was more invested in traditional feminine values than was Wollstonecraft. But Wollstonecraft remained dedicated to her and her family throughout her life (she frequently gave pecuniary assistance to Blood's brother, for example).

Wollstonecraft had envisioned living in a female utopia with Blood; they made plans to rent rooms together and support each other emotionally and financially, but this dream collapsed under economic realities. In order to make a living, Wollstonecraft, her sisters, and Blood set up a school together in Newington Green
Newington Green
Newington Green is an open space in north London which straddles the border between Islington and Hackney. It gives its name to the surrounding area, roughly bounded by Ball's Pond Road to the south, Petherton Road to the west, the southern section of Stoke Newington with Green Lanes-Matthias Road...

, a Dissenting
English Dissenters
English Dissenters were Christians who separated from the Church of England in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.They originally agitated for a wide reaching Protestant Reformation of the Established Church, and triumphed briefly under Oliver Cromwell....

 community. Blood soon became engaged and after their marriage her husband, Hugh Skeys, took her to Europe to improve her health, which had always been precarious. Despite the change of surroundings Blood's health further deteriorated when she became pregnant, and in 1785 Wollstonecraft left the school and followed Blood to nurse her, but to no avail. Moreover, her abandonment of the school led to its failure. Blood's death devastated Wollstonecraft and was part of the inspiration for her first novel, 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).

"The first of a new genus"


After Blood's death, Wollstonecraft's friends helped her obtain a position as governess
Governess
A governess is a girl or woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny or a babysitter, she concentrates on teaching children, not on meeting their physical needs...

 to the daughters of the Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish was a term used primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify a privileged social class in Ireland, whose members were the descendants and successors of the Protestant Ascendancy, mostly belonging to the Church of Ireland, which was the established church of Ireland until...

 Kingsborough family in Ireland. Although she could not get along with Lady Kingsborough, the children found her an inspiring instructor; Margaret King
Margaret King
Margaret King was an Irish hostess, writer, traveller, and medical adviser. Despite her wealthy aristocratic background, she had republican sympathies, shaped in part by having been a favoured pupil of Mary Wollstonecraft...

 would later say she "had freed her mind from all superstitions". Some of Wollstonecraft's experiences during this year would make their way into her only 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).

Frustrated by the limited career options open to respectable yet poor women—an impediment which Wollstonecraft eloquently describes in the chapter of 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...

entitled "Unfortunate Situation of Females, Fashionably Educated, and Left Without a Fortune"—she decided, after only a year as a governess, to embark upon a career as an author. This was a radical choice, since, at the time, few women could support themselves by writing. As she wrote to her sister Everina in 1787, she was trying to become "the first of a new genus". She moved to London and, assisted by the liberal publisher Joseph Johnson
Joseph Johnson (publisher)
Joseph Johnson was an influential 18th-century London bookseller and publisher. His publications covered a wide variety of genres and a broad spectrum of opinions on important issues...

, found a place to live and work to support herself. She learned French and German and translated texts, most notably Of the Importance of Religious Opinions by Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker was a French statesman of Swiss birth and finance minister of Louis XVI, a post he held in the lead-up to the French Revolution in 1789.-Early life:...

 and Elements of Morality, for the Use of Children by Christian Gotthilf Salzmann
Christian Gotthilf Salzmann
Christian Gotthilf Salzmann was the founder of the Schnepfenthal institution, a school dedicated to new modes of education...

. She also wrote reviews, primarily of novels, for Johnson's periodical, 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...

. Wollstonecraft's intellectual universe expanded during this time, not only from the reading that she did for her reviews but also from the company she kept: she attended Johnson's famous dinners and met such luminaries as the radical pamphleteer Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

 and the philosopher 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...

. The first time Godwin and Wollstonecraft met, they were both disappointed in each other. Godwin had come to hear Paine, but Wollstonecraft assailed him all night long, disagreeing with him on nearly every subject. Johnson himself, however, became much more than a friend; she described him in her letters as a father and a brother.

While in London, Wollstonecraft pursued a relationship with the artist Henry Fuseli
Henry Fuseli
Henry Fuseli was a British painter, draughtsman, and writer on art, of Swiss origin.-Biography:...

, even though he was already married. She was, she wrote, enraptured by his genius, "the grandeur of his soul, that quickness of comprehension, and lovely sympathy". She proposed a platonic living arrangement with Fuseli and his wife, but Fuseli's wife was appalled, and he broke off the relationship with Wollstonecraft. After Fuseli's rejection, Wollstonecraft decided to travel to France to escape the humiliation of the incident, and to participate in the revolutionary events that she had just celebrated in her recent Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790). She had written the Rights of Men in 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....

 conservative critique 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...

 in 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) and it made her famous overnight. She was compared with such leading lights as the theologian and controversialist Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley, FRS was an 18th-century English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and political theorist who published over 150 works...

 and Paine, whose Rights of Man
Rights of Man
Rights of Man , a book by Thomas Paine, posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard its people, their natural rights, and their national interests. Using these points as a base it defends the French Revolution against Edmund Burke's attack in...

(1791) would prove to be the most popular of the responses to Burke. She pursued the ideas she had outlined in Rights of Men in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects , written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th...

(1792), her most famous and influential work.

France and Gilbert Imlay


Wollstonecraft left for Paris in December 1792 and arrived about a month before Louis XVI was guillotined
Execution of Louis XVI
The execution of Louis XVI by means of the guillotine took place on 21 January 1793 at the Place de la Révolution in Paris. It was a major event of the French Revolution...

. France was in turmoil. She sought out other British visitors such as Helen Maria Williams
Helen Maria Williams
Helen Maria Williams was a British novelist, poet, and translator of French-language works. A religious dissenter, she was a supporter of abolitionism and of the ideals of the French Revolution; she was imprisoned in Paris during the Reign of Terror, but nonetheless spent much of the rest of her...

 and joined the circle of expatriates then in the city. Having just written the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft was determined to put her ideas to the test, and in the stimulating intellectual atmosphere 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...

 she attempted her most experimental romantic attachment yet: she met and fell passionately in love with Gilbert Imlay
Gilbert Imlay
Gilbert Imlay was an American businessman, author, and diplomat. Imlay was known in his day as a shrewd but unscrupulous businessman involved in land speculation in Kentucky. He later served in the U.S...

, an American adventurer. Whether or not she was interested in marriage, he was not, and she appears to have fallen in love with an idealised portrait of the man. While Wollstonecraft had rejected the sexual component of relationships in the Rights of Woman, Imlay awakened her passions and her interest in sex. She soon became pregnant, and on 14 May 1794 she gave birth to her first child, Fanny
Fanny Imlay
Frances "Fanny" Imlay , also known as Fanny Godwin, was the illegitimate daughter of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the American commercial speculator Gilbert Imlay.Although Mary Wollstonecraft and Gilbert Imlay lived together happily for brief periods before and after the birth...

, naming her after perhaps her closest friend. Wollstonecraft was overjoyed; she wrote to a friend: "My little Girl begins to suck so MANFULLY that her father reckons saucily on her writing the second part of the R[igh]ts of Woman" (emphasis hers). She continued to write avidly, despite not only her pregnancy and the burdens of being a new mother alone in a foreign country, but also the growing tumult of the French Revolution. While at Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 in northern France, she wrote a history of the early revolution, An Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution, which was published in London in December 1794.

As the political situation worsened, Britain declared war
First Coalition
The War of the First Coalition was the first major effort of multiple European monarchies to contain Revolutionary France. France declared war on the Habsburg monarchy of Austria on 20 April 1792, and the Kingdom of Prussia joined the Austrian side a few weeks later.These powers initiated a series...

 on France, placing all British subjects in France in considerable danger. To protect Wollstonecraft, Imlay registered her as his wife in 1793, even though they were not married. Some of her friends were not so lucky; many, like Thomas Paine, were arrested, and some were even guillotined. (Wollstonecraft's sisters believed she had been imprisoned.) After she left France, she continued to refer to herself as "Mrs Imlay", even to her sisters, in order to bestow legitimacy upon her child.

Imlay, unhappy with the domestic-minded and maternal Wollstonecraft, eventually left her. He promised that he would return to Le Havre where she went to give birth to her child, but his delays in writing to her and his long absences convinced Wollstonecraft that he had found another woman. Her letters to him are full of needy expostulations, explained by most critics as the expressions of a deeply depressed woman but by some as a result of her circumstances—alone with an infant in the middle of a revolution.

England and William Godwin


Seeking Imlay, Wollstonecraft returned to London in April 1795, but he rejected her. In May 1795 she attempted to commit suicide, probably with laudanum
Laudanum
Laudanum , also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight ....

, but Imlay saved her life (although it is unclear how). In a last attempt to win back Imlay, she embarked upon some business negotiations for him in Scandinavia, trying to recoup some of his losses. Wollstonecraft undertook this hazardous trip with only her young daughter and a maid. She recounted her travels and thoughts in letters to Imlay, many of which were eventually published as Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark
Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark
Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark is a personal travel narrative by the eighteenth-century British feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft. The twenty-five letters cover a wide range of topics, from sociological reflections on Scandinavia and its peoples to...

in 1796. When she returned to England and came to the full realisation that her relationship with Imlay was over, she attempted suicide for the second time, leaving a note for Imlay:

She then went out on a rainy night and "to make her clothes heavy with water, she walked up and down about half an hour" before jumping into the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

, but a stranger saw her jump and rescued her. Wollstonecraft considered her suicide attempt deeply rational, writing after her rescue, "I have only to lament, that, when the bitterness of death was past, I was inhumanly brought back to life and misery. But a fixed determination is not to be baffled by disappointment; nor will I allow that to be a frantic attempt, which was one of the calmest acts of reason. In this respect, I am only accountable to myself. Did I care for what is termed reputation, it is by other circumstances that I should be dishonoured."

Gradually, Wollstonecraft returned to her literary life, becoming involved with Joseph Johnson's
Joseph Johnson (publisher)
Joseph Johnson was an influential 18th-century London bookseller and publisher. His publications covered a wide variety of genres and a broad spectrum of opinions on important issues...

 circle again, in particular with 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...

, Elizabeth Inchbald
Elizabeth Inchbald
Elizabeth Inchbald was an English novelist, actress, and dramatist.- Life :Born on 15 October 1753 at Standingfield, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Elizabeth was the eighth of the nine children of John Simpson , a farmer, and his wife Mary, née Rushbrook. The family, like several others in the...

, and Sarah Siddons
Sarah Siddons
Sarah Siddons was a Welsh actress, the best-known tragedienne of the 18th century. She was the elder sister of John Philip Kemble, Charles Kemble, Stephen Kemble, Ann Hatton and Elizabeth Whitlock, and the aunt of Fanny Kemble. She was most famous for her portrayal of the Shakespearean character,...

 through 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...

. Godwin and Wollstonecraft's unique courtship began slowly, but it eventually became a passionate love affair. Godwin had read her Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark and later wrote that "If ever there was a book calculated to make a man in love with its author, this appears to me to be the book. She speaks of her sorrows, in a way that fills us with melancholy, and dissolves us in tenderness, at the same time that she displays a genius which commands all our admiration." Once Wollstonecraft became pregnant, they decided to marry so that their child would be legitimate. Their marriage revealed the fact that Wollstonecraft had never been married to Imlay, and as a result she and Godwin lost many friends. Godwin received further criticism because he had advocated the abolition of marriage in his philosophical treatise Political Justice
Political Justice
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Manners outlines the political philosophy of the 18th-century philosopher William Godwin....

. After their marriage on 29 March 1797, they moved into two adjoining houses, known as The Polygon, so that they could both still retain their independence; they often communicated by letter. By all accounts, theirs was a happy and stable, though tragically brief, relationship.

Death and Godwin's Memoirs


On 30 August 1797, Wollstonecraft gave birth to her second daughter, Mary
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

. Although the delivery seemed to go well initially, the placenta
Placenta
The placenta is an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply. "True" placentas are a defining characteristic of eutherian or "placental" mammals, but are also found in some snakes and...

 broke apart during the birth and became infected; puerperal (childbed) fever
Puerperal fever
Puerperal fever or childbed fever, is a bacterial infection contracted by women during childbirth or miscarriage. It can develop into puerperal sepsis, which is a serious form of septicaemia. If untreated, it is often fatal....

 was a common and often fatal occurrence in the eighteenth century. After several days of agony, Wollstonecraft died of septicaemia
Sepsis
Sepsis is a potentially deadly medical condition that is characterized by a whole-body inflammatory state and the presence of a known or suspected infection. The body may develop this inflammatory response by the immune system to microbes in the blood, urine, lungs, skin, or other tissues...

 on 10 September. Godwin was devastated: he wrote to his friend Thomas Holcroft
Thomas Holcroft
Thomas Holcroft was an English dramatist and miscellaneous writer.-Early life:He was born in Orange Court, Leicester Fields, London. His father had a shoemaker's shop, and kept riding horses for hire; but having fallen into difficulties was reduced to the status of hawking peddler...

, "I firmly believe there does not exist her equal in the world. I know from experience we were formed to make each other happy. I have not the least expectation that I can now ever know happiness again." She was buried at Old Saint Pancras Churchyard
St Pancras Old Church
St Pancras Old Church is a Church of England parish church in central London. It is believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England, and is dedicated to the Roman martyr Saint Pancras, although the building itself is largely Victorian...

, where her tombstone reads, "Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: Born 27 April 1759: Died 10 September 1797." (In 1851, her remains were moved by her grandson Percy Florence Shelley
Percy Florence Shelley
Sir Percy Florence Shelley, 3rd Baronet was the son and only surviving child of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his second wife, Mary Shelley. He was thus the only grandchild of Mary Wollstonecraft...

 to his family tomb in Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

.

In January 1798 Godwin 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 ....

. Although Godwin felt that he was portraying his wife with love, compassion, and sincerity, many readers were shocked that he would reveal Wollstonecraft's illegitimate children, love affairs, and suicide attempts. The Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 poet Robert Southey
Robert Southey
Robert Southey was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called "Lake Poets", and Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843...

 accused him of "the want of all feeling in stripping his dead wife naked" and vicious satires such as 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...

were published. Godwin's Memoirs portrays Wollstonecraft as a woman deeply invested in feeling who was balanced by his reason and as more of a religious sceptic than her own writings suggest. Godwin's views of Wollstonecraft were perpetuated throughout the nineteenth century and resulted in poems such as "Wollstonecraft and Fuseli" by British poet Robert Browning
Robert Browning
Robert Browning was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.-Early years:...

 and that by 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...

 which includes the lines:
Hard was thy fate in all the scenes of life
As daughter, sister, mother, friend, and wife;
But harder still, thy fate in death we own,
Thus mourn'd by Godwin with a heart of stone.


Legacy


Wollstonecraft has had what scholar Cora Kaplan labelled in 2002 a "curious" legacy: "for an author-activist adept in many genres ... up until the last quarter-century Wollstonecraft's life has been read much more closely than her writing". After the devastating effect of Godwin's Memoirs, Wollstonecraft's reputation lay in tatters for a century; she was pilloried by such writers as 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...

, who patterned the "freakish" Harriet Freke in 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...

(1801) after her. Other novelists 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...

, Charlotte Turner Smith
Charlotte Turner Smith
Charlotte Turner Smith was an English Romantic poet and novelist. She initiated a revival of the English sonnet, helped establish the conventions of Gothic fiction, and wrote political novels of sensibility....

, Fanny Burney
Fanny Burney
Frances Burney , also known as Fanny Burney and, after her marriage, as Madame d’Arblay, was an English novelist, diarist and playwright. She was born in Lynn Regis, now King’s Lynn, England, on 13 June 1752, to musical historian Dr Charles Burney and Mrs Esther Sleepe Burney...

, and Jane West
Jane West
Jane West [née Iliffe] , who published as "Prudentia Homespun" and "Mrs. West," was an English novelist, poet, playwright, and writer of conduct literature and educational tracts.- Life :...

 created similar figures, all to teach a "moral lesson" to their readers. (Hays had been a close friend, and helped nurse her in her dying days.) Scholar Virginia Sapiro states that few read Wollstonecraft's works during the nineteenth century as "her attackers implied or stated that no self-respecting woman would read her work". (In fact, as Craciun points out, new editions of Rights of Woman appeared in the UK in the 1840s, and in the US in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s.) One of those few was Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband, Robert Browning, shortly after her death.-Early life:Members...

, who read Rights of Woman aged 12, and whose poem Aurora Leigh
Aurora Leigh
Aurora Leigh is an eponymous epic novel/poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The poem is written in blank verse and encompasses nine books . It is a first person narration, from the point of view of Aurora; its other heroine, Marian Erle, is an abused self-taught child of itinerant parents...

reflected "Wollstonecraft's unwavering focus on education". Another was Lucretia Mott
Lucretia Mott
Lucretia Coffin Mott was an American Quaker, abolitionist, social reformer, and proponent of women's rights.- Early life and education:...

, a Quaker minister and activist against slavery
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...

 who helped organise the Seneca Falls Convention
Seneca Falls Convention
The Seneca Falls Convention was an early and influential women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, July 19–20, 1848. It was organized by local New York women upon the occasion of a visit by Boston-based Lucretia Mott, a Quaker famous for her speaking ability, a skill rarely...

, an influential women's rights convention held in 1848. Another who read Wollstonecraft was 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...

, a prolific writer of reviews, articles, novels, and translations. In 1855, she devoted an essay to the roles and rights of women, comparing Wollstonecraft and Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller
Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli, commonly known as Margaret Fuller, was an American journalist, critic, and women's rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism...

. Fuller was an American journalist, critic, and women's right activist who, like Wollstonecraft, had travelled to the Continent, been involved in the struggle for reform (in this case the Roman Republic
Roman Republic (19th century)
The Roman Republic was a state declared on February 9, 1849, when the government of Papal States was temporarily substituted by a republican government due to Pope Pius IX's flight to Gaeta. The republic was led by Carlo Armellini, Giuseppe Mazzini and Aurelio Saffi...

), and had a child by a man without marrying him. Wollstonecraft's children's work was adapted by Charlotte Mary Yonge
Charlotte Mary Yonge
Charlotte Mary Yonge , was an English novelist, known for her huge output, now mostly out of print.- Life :Charlotte Mary Yonge was born in Otterbourne, Hampshire, England, on 11 August 1823 to William Yonge and Fanny Yonge, née Bargus. She was educated at home by her father, studying Latin, Greek,...

 in 1870.

With the rise of the movement to give women a political voice
Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom
Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom as a national movement began in 1872. Women were not prohibited from voting in the United Kingdom until the 1832 Reform Act and the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act...

, Wollstonecraft was exhumed. The first full-length biography, by Elizabeth Robins Pennell
Elizabeth Robins Pennell
Elizabeth Robins Pennell was an American writer who, for most of her adult life, made her home in London...

, appeared in 1884 as part of a series by the Roberts Brothers
Roberts Brothers (publishers)
Messrs. Roberts Brothers were bookbinders and publishers in 19th-century Boston, Massachusetts. Established in 1857 by Austin J. Roberts, John F. Roberts, and Lewis A. Roberts, the firm began publishing around the early 1860s...

 on famous women. This followed an attempt at rehabilitation in 1879, with the publication of Wollstonecraft's Letters to Imlay, with prefatory memoir by C. Kegan Paul. Millicent Garrett Fawcett, a suffragist and later president of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies
National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies
The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies , also known as the Suffragists was an organisation of women's suffrage societies in the United Kingdom.-Formation and campaigning:...

, wrote the introduction to the centenary edition (i.e. 1892) of the Rights of Woman, cleansing the memory of Wollstonecraft and claiming her as the foremother of the struggle for the vote. With the advent of the modern 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...

, women as politically dissimilar from each other 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....

 and Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century....

 embraced Wollstonecraft's life story. By 1929 Woolf described Wollstonecraft—her writing, arguments, and "experiments in living"—as immortal: "she is alive and active, she argues and experiments, we hear her voice and trace her influence even now among the living". Many, however, continued to decry Wollstonecraft's lifestyleand her works were still largely ignored.

With the emergence of feminist criticism
Feminist criticism
Feminist criticism is a type of literary criticism, which was developed in the late 1960s, focusing on the role of women in literature. Two important representatives are Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir who claim that women are a subject and no object....

 in academia in the 1960s and 1970s, Wollstonecraft's works returned to prominence. Their fortunes reflected that of the second wave of the feminist movement itself; for example, in the early 1970s, six major biographies of Wollstonecraft were published that presented her "passionate life in apposition to [her] radical and rationalist agenda". In the 1980s and 1990s, yet another image of Wollstonecraft emerged, one which described her as much more a creature of her time; scholars such as Claudia Johnson, Gary Kelly, and Virginia Sapiro demonstrated the continuity between Wollstonecraft's thought and other important eighteenth-century ideas regarding topics such as 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...

, economics, and political theory.

Wollstonecraft's work has also had an effect on feminism outside the academy in recent years. 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 political writer and former Muslim who is critical of Islam
Criticism of Islam
Criticism of Islam has existed since Islam's formative stages. Early written criticism came from Christians, prior to the ninth century, many of whom viewed Islam as a radical Christian heresy...

 in general and its dictates regarding women in particular, cited 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...

and wrote 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".

She has also inspired more widely. Nobel Laureate
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, but officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel , is an award for outstanding contributions to the field of economics, generally regarded as one of the...

 Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen, CH is an Indian economist who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to welfare economics and social choice theory, and for his interest in the problems of society's poorest members...

, the Indian economist and philosopher who first identified the missing women of Asia
Missing women of Asia
The phenomenon of the missing women of Asia is a shortfall in the number of women in Asia relative to the number that would be expected if there was no sex-selective abortion or female infanticide or if the newborn of both sexes received similar levels of health care and nutrition.The phenomenon...

, draws repeatedly on Wollstonecraft as a political philosopher in The Idea of Justice
The Idea of Justice
The Idea of Justice is a 2009 book by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. The book has been described by The Economist as "commanding summation of Mr Sen’s own work on economic reasoning and on the elements and measurement of human well-being"...

(2009). Richard Reeves, then head of the thinktank Demos
Demos (UK think tank)
- History :Demos was founded in 1993 by former Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques, and Geoff Mulgan, who became its first director. It was formed in response to what Mulgan, Jacques and others saw as a crisis in politics in Britain, with voter engagement in decline and political institutions...

, considers her an important figure in the development of 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...

 ideas.

Educational works



The majority of Wollstonecraft's early productions centre around the topic of education; she assembled an anthology of literary extracts "for the improvement of young women" entitled The Female Reader and she translated two children's works, Maria Geertruida van de Werken de Cambon's Young Grandison and Christian Gotthilf Salzmann's
Christian Gotthilf Salzmann
Christian Gotthilf Salzmann was the founder of the Schnepfenthal institution, a school dedicated to new modes of education...

 Elements of Morality. Her own writings also addressed the topic. In both her 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...

 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) and her children's book
Children's literature
Children's literature is for readers and listeners up to about age twelve; it is often defined in four different ways: books written by children, books written for children, books chosen by children, or books chosen for children. It is often illustrated. The term is used in senses which sometimes...

 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), Wollstonecraft advocates educating children into the emerging middle-class ethos: self-discipline, honesty, frugality, and social contentment. Both books also emphasise the importance of teaching children to reason, revealing Wollstonecraft's intellectual debt to the important seventeenth-century educational philosopher 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...

. However, the prominence she affords religious faith and innate feeling distinguishes her work from his and links it to the discourse 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...

 popular at the end of the eighteenth century. Both texts also advocate the education of women, a controversial topic at the time and one which she would return to throughout her career, most notably in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects , written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th...

. Wollstonecraft argues that well-educated women will be good wives and mothers and ultimately contribute positively to the nation.

Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)


Published in 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), which was a defence of constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, aristocracy, and the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) attacks aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 and advocates republicanism
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...

. Hers was the first response in a pamphlet war that subsequently became known 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...

, in which Thomas Paine's
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

 Rights of Man
Rights of Man
Rights of Man , a book by Thomas Paine, posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard its people, their natural rights, and their national interests. Using these points as a base it defends the French Revolution against Edmund Burke's attack in...

(1792) became the rallying cry for reformers and radicals.

Wollstonecraft attacked not only monarchy and hereditary privilege but also the language that Burke used to defend and elevate it. In a famous passage in the Reflections, Burke had lamented: "I had thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her [Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette ; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and of Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I....

] with insult.—But the age of chivalry is gone." Most of Burke's detractors deplored what they viewed as theatrical pity for the French queen—a pity they felt was at the expense of the people. Wollstonecraft was unique in her attack on Burke's gendered language. By redefining the sublime
Sublime (philosophy)
In aesthetics, the sublime is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic...

 and the beautiful, terms first established by Burke himself in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful
A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful
A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful is a 1757 treatise on aesthetics written by Edmund Burke. It attracted the attention of prominent Continental thinkers such as Denis Diderot and Immanuel Kant....

(1756), she undermined his rhetoric as well as his argument. Burke had associated the beautiful with weakness and femininity and the sublime with strength and masculinity; Wollstonecraft turns these definitions against him, arguing that his theatrical tableaux turn Burke's readers—the citizens—into weak women who are swayed by show. In her first unabashedly feminist critique, which Wollstonecraft scholar Claudia L. 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...

 argues remains unsurpassed in its argumentative force, Wollstonecraft indicts Burke's defence of an unequal society founded on the passivity of women.

In her arguments for republican virtue, Wollstonecraft invokes an emerging middle-class ethos in opposition to what she views as the vice-ridden aristocratic code of manners. Influenced by Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 thinkers, she believed in progress and derides Burke for relying on tradition and custom. She argues for rationality, pointing out that Burke's system would lead to the continuation of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, simply because it had been an ancestral tradition. She describes an idyllic country life in which each family can have a farm that will just suit its needs. Wollstonecraft contrasts her utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

n picture of society, drawn with what she says is genuine feeling, to Burke's false feeling.

The Rights of Men was Wollstonecraft's first overtly political work, as well as her first feminist work; as Johnson contends, "it seems that in the act of writing the later portions of Rights of Men she discovered the subject that would preoccupy her for the rest of her career". It was this text that made her a well-known writer.

Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)


A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft argues that women ought to have an education commensurate with their position in society and then proceeds to redefine that position, 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. Large sections of the Rights of Woman respond vitriolically to 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 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....

 and 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 wanted to deny women an education. (Rousseau famously argues in Émile
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 states that currently many women are silly and superficial (she refers to them, for example, as "spaniels" and "toys"), but argues that this is not because of an innate deficiency of mind but rather because men have denied them access to education. Wollstonecraft is intent on illustrating the limitations that women's deficient educations have placed on them; she 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." She implies that, without the encouragement young women receive from an early age to focus their attention on beauty and outward accomplishments, women could achieve much more.

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. What she does claim is that men and women are equal in the eyes of God. However, such claims of equality stand in contrast to her statements respecting the superiority of masculine strength and valour. Wollstonecraft famously and ambiguously writes: "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." 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.

One of Wollstonecraft's most scathing critiques in the Rights of Woman is of 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" and because they are "the prey of their senses" they cannot think rationally. In fact, she claims, they do harm not only to themselves but to the entire civilisation: these are not women who can help refine a civilisation—a popular eighteenth-century idea—but women who will destroy it. Wollstonecraft does not argue that reason and feeling should act independently of each other; rather, she believes that they should inform each other.

In addition to her larger philosophical arguments, Wollstonecraft also lays out a specific educational plan. In the twelfth chapter of the Rights of Woman, "On National Education", she argues that all children should 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...

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

Wollstonecraft addresses her text to the middle-class, which she describes as the "most natural state", and 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. It encourages modesty and industry in its readers and attacks the uselessness of the aristocracy. But Wollstonecraft is not necessarily a friend to the poor; for example, in her national plan for education, she suggests that, after the age of nine, the poor, except for those who are brilliant, should be separated from the rich and taught in another school.

Novels



Both of Wollstonecraft's novels criticise what she viewed as the patriarchal institution of marriage and its deleterious effects on women. In her first novel, Mary: A Fiction (1788), the eponymous heroine is forced into a loveless marriage for economic reasons; she fulfils her desire for love and affection outside of marriage with two passionate romantic friendship
Romantic friendship
The term romantic friendship refers to both very close but non-sexual relationship and at times physical relationship between friends, often involving a degree of physical closeness beyond that which is common in modern Western societies, and may include for example holding hands, cuddling,...

s, one with a woman and one with a man. Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman (1798), an unfinished novel published posthumously and often considered Wollstonecraft's most radical feminist work, revolves around the story of a woman imprisoned in an insane asylum by her husband; like Mary, Maria also finds fulfilment outside of marriage, in an affair with a fellow inmate and a friendship with one of her keepers. Neither of Wollstonecraft's novels depict successful marriages, although she posits such relationships in the Rights of Woman. At the end of Mary, the heroine believes she is going "to that world where there is neither marrying, nor giving in marriage," presumably a positive state of affairs.

Both of Wollstonecraft's novels also critique the discourse 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...

, a moral philosophy and aesthetic that had become popular at the end of the eighteenth century. Mary is itself a novel of sensibility and Wollstonecraft attempts to use the tropes of that genre to undermine sentimentalism itself, a philosophy she believed was damaging to women because it encouraged them to rely overmuch on their emotions. In The Wrongs of Woman the heroine's indulgence on romantic fantasies fostered by novels themselves is depicted as particularly detrimental.

Female friendships are central to both of Wollstonecraft's novels, but it is the friendship between Maria and Jemima, the servant charged with watching over her in the insane asylum, that is the most historically significant. This friendship, based on a sympathetic bond of motherhood, between an upper-class woman and a lower-class woman is one of the first moments in the history of feminist literature that hints at a cross-class argument, that is, that women of different economic positions have the same interests because they are women.

Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796)


Wollstonecraft's Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark is a deeply personal travel narrative
Travel literature
Travel literature is travel writing of literary value. Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary. Travel literature may be cross-cultural or transnational in focus, or...

. The twenty-five letters cover a wide range of topics, from sociological reflections on Scandinavia and its peoples to philosophical questions regarding identity to musings on her relationship with Imlay
Gilbert Imlay
Gilbert Imlay was an American businessman, author, and diplomat. Imlay was known in his day as a shrewd but unscrupulous businessman involved in land speculation in Kentucky. He later served in the U.S...

 (although he is not referred to by name in the text). Using the rhetoric of the sublime
Sublime (philosophy)
In aesthetics, the sublime is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic...

, Wollstonecraft explores the relationship between the self and society. Reflecting the strong influence of 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...

, Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark shares the themes of the French philosopher's Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker is an unfinished book by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written between 1776 and 1778. It was the last of a number of works composed toward the end of his life which were deeply autobiographical in nature...

(1782): "the search for the source of human happiness, the stoic rejection of material goods, the ecstatic embrace of nature, and the essential role of sentiment in understanding". While Rousseau ultimately rejects society, however, Wollstonecraft celebrates domestic scenes and industrial progress in her text.


Wollstonecraft promotes subjective experience, particularly in relation to nature, exploring the connections between the sublime and 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...

. Many of the letters describe the breathtaking scenery of Scandinavia and Wollstonecraft's desire to create an emotional connection to that natural world. In so doing, she gives greater value to the imagination than she had in previous works. As in her previous writings, she champions the liberation and education of women. In a change from her earlier works, however, she illustrates the detrimental effects of commerce on society, contrasting the imaginative connection to the world with a commercial and mercenary one, an attitude she associates with Imlay.

Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark was Wollstonecraft's most popular book in the 1790s. It sold well and was reviewed positively by most critics. 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...

 wrote "if ever there was a book calculated to make a man in love with its author, this appears to me to be the book." It influenced Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 poets such as William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

 and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

, who drew on its themes and its aesthetic.

See also


  • 90481 Wollstonecraft
    90481 Wollstonecraft
    90481 Wollstonecraft is a main-belt asteroid discovered on February 16, 2004 by J. Dellinger and D. Wells at Needville.It was named for Mary Wollstonecraft .- External links :*...

    , an asteroid
  • Godwin-Shelley family tree
  • Timeline of Mary Wollstonecraft
    Timeline of Mary Wollstonecraft
    This timeline lists important events relevant to the life of Mary Wollstonecraft , a British writer, philosopher, and feminist....


List of works


This is a complete list of Mary Wollstonecraft's works; all works are the first edition and were authored by Wollstonecraft unless otherwise noted.
  • —.Thoughts on the Education of Daughters: With Reflections on Female Conduct, in the More Important Duties of Life
    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...

    . London: Joseph Johnson, 1787.
  • —.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...

    . London: Joseph Johnson, 1788.
  • —.Original Stories from Real Life: With Conversations Calculated to Regulate the Affections and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness
    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...

    . London: Joseph Johnson, 1788.
  • Necker, Jacques
    Jacques Necker
    Jacques Necker was a French statesman of Swiss birth and finance minister of Louis XVI, a post he held in the lead-up to the French Revolution in 1789.-Early life:...

    . Of the Importance of Religious Opinions. Trans. Mary Wollstonecraft. London: Joseph Johnson, 1788.
  • —.The Female Reader: Or, Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose and Verse; selected from the best writers, and disposed under proper heads; for the improvement of young women. By Mr. Cresswick, teacher of elocution [Mary Wollstonecraft]. To which is prefixed a preface, containing some hints on female education. London: Joseph Johnson, 1789.
  • de Cambon, Maria Geertruida van de Werken. Young Grandison. A Series of Letters from Young Persons to Their Friends. Trans. Mary Wollstonecraft. London: Joseph Johnson, 1790.
  • Salzmann, Christian Gotthilf
    Christian Gotthilf Salzmann
    Christian Gotthilf Salzmann was the founder of the Schnepfenthal institution, a school dedicated to new modes of education...

    . Elements of Morality, for the Use of Children; with an introductory address to parents. Trans. Mary Wollstonecraft. London: Joseph Johnson, 1790.
  • —.A Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke
    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...

    . London: Joseph Johnson, 1790.
  • —.A Vindication of the Rights of Woman with Strictures on Moral and Political Subjects
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects , written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th...

    . London: Joseph Johnson, 1792.
  • —."On the Prevailing Opinion of a Sexual Character in Women, with Strictures on Dr. Gregory's Legacy to His Daughters". New Annual Register (1792): 457–466. [From Rights of Woman]
  • —.An Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution; and the Effect It Has produced in Europe. London: Joseph Johnson, 1794.
  • —.Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. London: Joseph Johnson, 1796.
  • —."On Poetry, and Our Relish for the Beauties of Nature". Monthly Magazine (April 1797).
  • —. The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria
    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...

    . Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; unfinished]
  • —."The Cave of Fancy". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; fragment written in 1787]
  • —."Letter on the Present Character of the French Nation". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; written in 1793]
  • —."Fragment of Letters on the Management of Infants". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; unfinished]
  • —."Lessons". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; unfinished]
  • —."Hints". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; notes on the second volume of Rights of Woman, never written]
  • —.Contributions to 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...

    (1788–1797) [published anonymously]

Primary works

  • Butler, Marilyn
    Marilyn Butler
    Marilyn Butler is a British literary critic. She was Rector of Exeter College, Oxford from 1993 to 2004, and was King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge, from 1986 to 1993...

    , ed. Burke, Paine, Godwin, and the Revolution Controversy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-521-28656-5.
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft. Ed. Janet Todd. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-231-13142-9.
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. 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 Press, 1997. ISBN 1-55111-088-1.

Biographies

  • Flexner, Eleanor. Mary Wollstonecraft: A Biography. New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1972. ISBN 0-698-10447-1.
  • Godwin, William
    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. 1798. Eds. Pamela Clemit and Gina Luria Walker. Peterborough: Broadview Press Ltd., 2001. ISBN 1-55111-259-0.
  • Gordon, Lyndall. Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Great Britain: Virago, 2005. ISBN 1-84408-141-9.
  • Hays, Mary
    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...

    . "Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft". Annual Necrology (1797–98): 411–460.
  • Jacobs, Diane. Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. USA: Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-349-11461-7.
  • Paul, C. Kegan. Letters to Imlay, with prefatory memoir by C. Kegan Paul. London: C. Kegan Paul, 1879. full text
  • Pennell, Elizabeth Robins
    Elizabeth Robins Pennell
    Elizabeth Robins Pennell was an American writer who, for most of her adult life, made her home in London...

    . Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1884). full text
  • St Clair, William. The Godwins and the Shelleys: The biography of a family. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1989. ISBN 0-8018-4233-6.
  • Sunstein, Emily. A Different Face: the Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1975. ISBN 0-06-014201-4.
  • 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...

    . Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2000. ISBN 0-231-12184-9.
  • Tomalin, Claire
    Claire Tomalin
    Claire Tomalin is an English biographer and journalist. She was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge.She was literary editor of the New Statesman and of the Sunday Times, and has written several noted biographies...

    . The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft. Rev. ed. 1974. New York: Penguin, 1992. ISBN 0-14-016761-7.
  • Wardle, Ralph M. Mary Wollstonecraft: A Critical Biography. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1951.

Other secondary works

  • Conger, Syndy McMillen. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Language of Sensibility. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8386-3553-9.
  • Detre, Jean, A most extraordinary pair: Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, Garden City : Doubleday, 1975
  • Falco, Maria J., ed. Feminist Interpretations of Mary Wollstonecraft. University Park: Penn State Press, 1996. ISBN 0-271-01493-8.
  • Favret, Mary. Romantic Correspondence: Women, politics and the fiction of letters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-521-41096-7.
  • 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.
  • Jones, Vivien. "Mary Wollstonecraft and the literature of advice and instruction". The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft. Ed. Claudia 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.
  • Myers, Mitzi. "Impeccable Governess, Rational Dames, and Moral Mothers: Mary Wollstonecraft and the Female Tradition in Georgian Children's Books". Children's Literature 14 (1986):31–59.
  • Myers, Mitzi. "Sensibility and the 'Walk of Reason': Mary Wollstonecraft's Literary Reviews as Cultural Critique". Sensibility in Transformation: Creative Resistance to Sentiment from the Augustans to the Romantics. Ed. Syndy McMillen Conger. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8386-3352-8.
  • Myers, Mitzi. "Wollstonecraft's Letters Written ... in Sweden: Towards Romantic Autobiography". Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 8 (1979): 165–85.
  • Orr, Clarissa Campbell, ed. Wollstonecraft's daughters: womanhood in England and France, 1780–1920. Manchester: Manchester University Press ND, 1996.
  • 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.
  • Richardson, Alan. "Mary Wollstonecraft on education". The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft. Ed. Claudia Johnson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-521-78952-4.
  • Sapiro, Virginia. A Vindication of Political Virtue: The Political Theory of Mary Wollstonecraft. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. ISBN 0-226-73491-9.
  • Taylor, Barbara. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-66144-7.
  • Todd, Janet. Women's Friendship in Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-231-04562-X

External links