Mary Wollstonecraft
British author

1759 - 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft, a British author, was best known for her book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). This book was one of the first to claim that women should have equality with men. Wollstonecraft said that men considered women morally and mentally inferior to themselves. She argued that women could live happy, creative lives if they had better educational opportunities. She based her book on the democratic principles of the French Revolution (1789-1799) and on her own experiences.

Wollstonecraft was born in London. She educated herself by studying books at home. For a brief period, she and her sisters ran a school. From this experience, she wrote Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787). In this pamphlet, she criticized the cruel treatment of young girls that was common at the time. She also wrote other essays as well as stories and translations.

In 1797, Wollstonecraft married William Godwin, a British political reformer. Their daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, wrote the famous horror novel Frankenstein (1818).

Contributor: Cynthia F. Behrman, Ph.D., Prof. of History, Wittenberg Univ.


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