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Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 - 1797)

Lifespan: 1750s - 1797

Related: enlightenment - feminism - philosophy - Marry Shelley (daughter) - Henry Fuseli (romantic link) - UK

Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of modern feminism was at the center of a group of London radical intellectuals. When Henry Fuseli arrived in London he was soon part of this group. In 1792 Henry Fuseli and Mary Wollstonecraft were tangled in a very strange yet unconsummated affair. She was the mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus. Her 1792 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is one of the first works that can unambiguously be called feminist.

Tracts: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

"In the union of the sexes, both pursue one common object, but not in the same manner. From their diversity in this particular, arises the first determinate difference between the moral relations of each. The one should be active and strong, the other passive and weak: it is necessary the one should have both the power and the will, and that the other should make little resistance. " --[...]

On August 30, 1797, Wollstonecraft gave birth to her second daughter, Mary. Although the delivery seemed to go well initially, the placenta broke apart during the birth and became infected, a common occurrence in the eighteenth century. After several days of agony, Wollstonecraft died on September 10. William Godwin was devastated; he wrote to a friend "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." [Jan 2007]


Mary Wollstonecraft (April 27, 1759 - September 10, 1797) was the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Her husband William Godwin was one of the most prominent atheists of his day and a forefather of the anarchist movement. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wollstonecraft [Jun 2005]

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