Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft (27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an English writer and feminist philosopher.

In 1778, she left home to work as lady’s companion in Bath. Sustained by a dream of life alone with her beloved friend Fanny Blood, she founded a small school in the progressive Dissenting community of Newington Green. After Fanny’s death in 1786, and following the collapse of their school, Mary took up work as a governess for an Anglo-Irish family. In 1787, she started what was to be a successful career as a writer: the radical London publisher, Joseph Johnson, took her on as an editorial assistant, writer, and reviewer for his new magazine, the Analytical Review.

While working as a correspondent in Paris during the French Revolution, Wollstonecraft went through two failed love affairs, and had a daughter, Fanny, born out of wedlock. Later, Mary married the political writer and novelist William Godwin. She died of puerperal fever ten days after giving birth to their daughter, who would grow up to be Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818).


  • Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787)
  • Original Stories from Real Life (1788, children’s book)
  • Mary: A Fiction (1788)
  •  A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)
  • An Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution (1794)
  • Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796)
  • Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman (1798, unfinished novel published posthumously)
  • Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, edited by William Godwin (1798)
  • Letters to Imlay, with prefatory memoir, edited by Charles Kegan Paul (1879)
  • The Complete Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, edited by Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler (1989, 7 volumes)
  • The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, edited by Janet Todd (2003)

Books about her

  • Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, by Charlotte Gordon (2015)
  • England’s First Family of Writers: Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Mary Shelley, by J. A. Carlson (2007)
  • Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Lyndall Gordon (2005)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination, by Barbara Taylor (2003)
  • The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft, edited by Claudia Johnson (2002)
  • Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Diane Jacobs (2001)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life by Janet Todd (2000)
  • Lives of the Great Romantics III: Godwin, Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Their Contemporaries, edited by Harriet Devine, Pamela Clemit, and Betty T. Bennett (1999)
  • Feminist Interpretations of Mary Wollstonecraft, edited by Maria J. Falco (1996)
  • Wollstonecraft’s daughters: womanhood in England and France, 1780–1920, edited by Clarissa Campbell Orr (1996)
  • The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Claire Tomalin (1992)
  • A Vindication of Political Virtue: The Political Theory of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Virginia Sapiro (1992)
  • The Sign of Angellica: Woman, Writing and Fiction 1660-1800, by Janet Todd (1989)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft by Janet Todd and Moira Ferguson (1984)
  • The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen, by Mary Poovey (1984)
  • A most extraordinary pair: Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, by Jean Detre (1975)
  • A different face: The life of Mary Wollstonecraft, by Emily W. Sunstein (1975)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft: A Biography, by Eleanor Flexner (1972)
  • Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by William Godwin (1798)

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