Mary Wollstonecraft


Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, philosopher and feminist. She is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which has been called "the first full-length feminist work." She also wrote two novels: Mary: a Fiction (1788) and The Wrongs of Woman (1792). Her most famous works today are the short stories "The Natural Daughter" and "An Historical Novel".

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Mary Wollstonecraft's life and works have inspired many later feminists. She was a philosopher, writer, early feminist and radical feminist. She was also an educator who believed in educating women to become equal partners with men in society.

She wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), which discusses how women should be treated equally to men in society; it has been called "the first great work of feminist literature." In this book she argues for rights for all people regardless of race or class status.

Maria; or, The Wrongs of Woman

This is a novel, written by Mary Wollstonecraft in 1798. It is a response to Rousseau's Julie, or the New Heloise and it deals with equality between men and women as well as the inequality of woman in society.

This book was written after she had read works like John Locke's Two Treatises on Government (1690) where he stated that “[t]hose who are born without any title at all to political power or dominion over others, cannot be said to be born into such societies”. She also saw Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (1792), which argued for universal manhood suffrage; these ideas influenced her beliefs about politics and society through her writing career.

Original Stories from Real Life

Wollstonecraft's second novel, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), is a fictional account of the life of Mary Wollstonecraft. It was published two years after her death and has not been out of print since its first edition in 1798. The story covers much ground: it looks at women’s rights through an historical lens, but also includes a discussion about how society views women and their place within it.

Wollstonecraft begins by explaining that she has chosen to write about herself because she feels this topic needs more attention than it currently receives: “It is my intention…to give some account on one single occasion (not always very flattering)…the manner in which I have lived from fifteen till thirty-two years old."

Her life and works, especially A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, have inspired many later feminists.

Mary Wollstonecraft was an important figure in the history of feminism. Her life and works, especially A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, have inspired many later feminists.


Mary Wollstonecraft’s life, works and legacy continue to inspire modern feminists. Her insistence on the agency of women and her belief that their education and social status are integral to their own liberation have inspired many women since her death in 1797, who continue to fight for gender equality today.