Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft (/ˈwʊlstənkræft/also UK/-krɑːft/; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was a British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft’s life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships at the time, received more attention than her writing. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and her works as important influences.

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. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (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.

After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay (by whom she had a daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. Wollstonecraft died at the age of 38 leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. She died 11 days after giving birth to her second daughter, Mary Shelley, who became an accomplished writer and the author of Frankenstein.

Wollstonecraft’s widower published a Memoir (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 at the turn of the twentieth century, Wollstonecraft’s advocacy of women’s equality and critiques of conventional femininity became increasingly important.

Source: Mary Wollstonecraft – Wikiwand


Portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft

John Opie, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.

Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

You’re Dead to Me Podcast: Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft

Listen to this episode from You’re Dead to Me on Spotify. Greg Jenner and his guests Dr Corin Throsby and comic Cariad Lloyd discuss the life and legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft.

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