Jane Austen

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Was Jane Austen influenced by Mary Wollstonecraft?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While we can't know for sure, I would say it is highly likely that Jane Austen read and was influenced by Mary Wollstonecraft. For evidence of that, I would point the reader to Miriam Ascarelli's 2004 piece in Persuasions discussing feminist connections between the two writers (I would object, however, to Ascarelli's characterization of Vindication as strident and rambling).

While Ascarelli notes similarities between Austen and Wollstonecraft in terms of women's education, Ascarelli also points to actual links between Wollstonecraft and the Austen family:

Austen biographer Claire Tomalin offers some convincing biographical evidence that Austen is likely to have known of Mary Wollstonecraft and her work. She notes that Sir William East, the father of one of George Austen’s former pupils, was a benefactor of Wollstonecraft. Furthermore, Sir William was a neighbor and friend to Austen’s uncle, James Leigh-Perrot. After Wollstonecraft attempted suicide in 1796, Sir William was credited with...

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