Libertia Society Featured Author Series: #1 Mary WollstonecraftLeave a comment
March 4, 2015 by Racheltd
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
Who was she?
An English woman and early advocate for women’s rights and education, Wollstonecraft was many things: Moral and Political Philosopher, Novelist, Travel Writer, Educational Theorist, and Reformer. She was a radical, an early feminist, and an iconoclast. While she is best remembered for her work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, she was a prolific writer on a variety of topics and in several different genera.
For a brief, online biography head here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wollstonecraft/
Where should I start?
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Her most famous work, it is often considered the first major feminist treatise in the English language. Wollstonecraft explains her purpose for writing it in the text: “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their FASCINATING graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone. I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists—I wish to persuade women to endeavour [sic] to acquire strength, both of mind and body…”.
The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria. A Fragment. While this work is unfinished it is, in some sense, her most radical work as she addresses many of the themes from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as well as female sexuality in a fictional format.
Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. If you are looking for something a little smaller, we suggest this shorter text. “Letter 19” is a particular favorite.
Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman. This biography written by Wollstonecraft’s husband, the philosophical anarchist William Godwin, shortly after her death is rightfully infamous.
What are some awesome quotes by her?
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” –A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 1792
“Make them [women] free, and they will quickly become wise and virtuous, as men become more so; for the improvement must be mutual, or the justice which one half of the human race are obliged to submit to, retorting on their oppressors, the virtue of man will be worm-eaten by the insect whom he keeps under his feet.”- Letter 12, “On National Education”, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, 1796
“Knavery without personal danger is an art brought to great perfection by the statesman and swindler; And meaner knaves are not tardy in following their footsteps” – Letter 19, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, 1796
Category: Author Series | Tags: feminism, history, Mary Wollstonecraft, philosophy, Political Philosopher, wollstonecraft, women, womens history month