(1759 - 1797)
“ judicious books enlarge the mind and improve the heart”

Mary was born into a prosperous family in Spitalfields in the middle of the 18th century and at the height of the Enlightenment.  Despite her father’s peripatetic existence, during which time he lost most of the family wealth, she was passionate about learning and managed to gain a haphazard education, which was better than that received by many of her contemporaries.  The need to earn a living drove her to establish a school in the Dissenting community of Newington Green, which failed after a few years but her experiences there led her to write Thoughts of the Education of Daughters (1787).  Her increasing sense of social injustice and her dislike of the subordinate role of women came to a head with the publication of Rousseau’s work Emile, in which he proposed that a girl’s education should aim to make her useful to and supportive of a man.  Her angry reaction to this resulted in the powerful early feminist statement A Vindication of the Rights of Woman [1792] in which she attacked the educational restrictions that encouraged women to be “docile and attentive to their looks to the exclusion of all else”.  The revolutionary ideas in her book caused an enormous amount of controversy and her views often shocked even fellow radicals.  By 1793 during the time of the Jacobin Terror, Mary had moved to France, where she met Gilbert Imlay, an American Merchant and author with whom she fell passionately in love.  Their daughter, Fanny, was born in 1794. The relationship with Imlay did not prosper, although when they were apart Mary wrote a number of letters to him which were successfully published shortly after they separated in 1796 under the title Letters Written During A Short Residence In Sweden, Norway, And Denmark.  Despite her profound depression over Imlay’s abandonment of her, Mary found renewed hope in a relationship with the philosophical anarchist William Godwin.  They married when she became pregnant, and in 1797 their daughter, also named Mary, was born.  Childbirth complications caused Mary’s death a scant 10 days later.   Although it is her daughter who is instantly recognized, as the author of Frankenstein, it is Mary Wollstonecraft who has had the greatest impact on the lives of modern women.

Please scroll down to view our current stock of Wollstonecraft first editions.


Add to favourites

Books by this author

No books by this author are available at the moment. If you are interested in this author, you are welcome to contact us.

Make an enquiry