The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft Critical Context - Essay

Claire Tomalin

Critical Context

Tomalin’s biography of Wollstonecraft provides a valuable composite of this com-plicated, heroic woman. Young adult readers will see Wollstonecraft as a human being who had an intensity for life and who insisted on speaking out against the injustices of her time. This portrayal of Wollstonecraft as a courageous, intellectually stimulating individual who advocated education and equal opportunities for women serves as a reminder of Wollstonecraft’s contribution to the feminist cause. As the chronology of the book unfolds, Tomalin makes every effort to represent an honest, balanced, fully accurate account of the people and events that influenced Wollstonecraft. Young adult readers will find Wollstonecraft a lively, likable, sometimes moody, and always surprising figure.

Educators who have become interested in Wollstonecraft have proclaimed the necessity of a biography of this proportion that would attract young adult readers. Wollstonecraft’s polemical work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) has become a standard source for commentary on the feminist movement, and many students of literature who understand the importance of moving beyond the traditional canon will demand to hear this important female voice. One of the pioneers who struggled to elevate the status of women, Wollstonecraft pleads for the right of individuals to realize their potentials. Her life became an example of the philosophies that she advocated.