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Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft

British writer and philosopher

Mary Wollstonecraft (/ˈwʊlstənkræft/, also UK: /-krɑːft/;[1] 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an English 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 Wollstonecraft's death, her 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.

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 would become an accomplished writer and author of Frankenstein.

Timeline

April 27, 1759
Mary Wollstonecraft was born in Hackney.

Patents

Further Resources

Title
Author
Link
Type
Date

Mary Wollstonecraft: A Biography.

Flexner, Eleanor.

1972

Mary Wollstonecraft: A Literary Life.

Franklin, Caroline

2004

Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Godwin, William.

1798

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley.

Gordon, Charlotte.

2015

Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Gordon, Lyndall.

2005

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