Born on 27th of April 1759
Died in London
Died on 10th of September 1797
Mary Wollstonecraft may be claimed as the first feminist, proposing that women are equal to men and should have the same rights. For such outrageous ideas she was called, amongst other things, “a hyena in petticoats.”
Mary Wollstonecraft was born in Spitalfields, London on April 27, 1759. From an early age she had a great independence of ideas embracing those outside of the social norms and backing them up with a strong intellect. In 1784 Mary Wollstonecraft opened a school in Newington Green, then a small village outside London. Here she met the radical preacher, Richard Price whose group was known as the Radical Dissenters. Mary supported Price in her revolutionary pamphlet A Vindication of the Rights of Man, (1790) where she attacked the slave trade, the game laws and the treatment of the poor.
In 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft published her most famous book A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Her truly revolutionary views shocked the established order, particularly with proposals such as votes for women and equality of education. She described marriage as “legal prostitution,” a view which together with her unconventional lifestyle has endeared her ever since to radical feminists.
Conservative reaction led to Wollstonecraft moving to France in 1793. Here she had a child, Fanny, with the American adventurer Captain Gilbert Imlay. When the relationship came to an end, and having failed in a suicide attempt, she moved back to London where in 1791 she married the philosopher William Goodwin. Medical intervention during the birth of her second child caused blood poisoning and Mary Wollstonecraft died on September 10, 1797, aged just 38. Her child was later to become Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein and wife of the - equally - celebrated poet.
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