Mary Wollstonecraft Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Conger, Syndy McMillen. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Language of Sensibility. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994. A scholarly, well-documented assessment of Wollstonecraft’s change in attitudes toward the language of emotions and feeling, from uncritical acceptance to critical rejection to a mature reacceptance and adaptation of it to new contexts, including feminism and political revolution. A corrective to standard twentieth century interpretations of Wollstonecraft that focus on the emphasis on reason during her middle years.

Falco, Maria J., ed. Feminist Interpretations of Mary Wollstonecraft. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. A collection of twelve essays on a variety of political issues. Contains two essays that compare the thought of Rousseau and Wollstonecraft, as well as essays dealing with liberalism, slavery, the evolution of women’s rights since the time of Wollstonecraft, and the changing reactions to Wollstonecraft since her death.

Ferguson, Moira, and Janet M. Todd. Mary Wollstonecraft. Boston: Twayne, 1984. A volume in the Twayne authors series providing concise, scholarly, and well-documented accounts of both Wollstonecraft’s life and her literary career. Includes an assessment of her ideas, style, and influence. Stresses her professional achievements more than...

(The entire section is 561 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207250-Wollstonecraft.jpg Mary Wollstonecraft Published by Salem Press, Inc.

The pioneer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (WOOL-stuhn-kraft) endured a long eclipse of her literary and personal reputation until the emergence of the twentieth century feminist movement and the publication of a biography of this radical writer by Ralph Wardle (1951). Wollstonecraft was the second child and first daughter of the seven children of Edward and Elizabeth Dickson Wollstonecraft. Her childhood and adolescence were marred by her father’s improvidence and brutality and her mother’s indifference. Her early life was punctuated by several moves, particularly to Beverly in Yorkshire, where she attended a day school. On the family’s return to London, she found refuge with the family of her friend Fanny Blood.{$S[A]Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft;Wollstonecraft, Mary}

In 1778, repelled by her family life, she became a paid companion to a widow, Mrs. Dawson, in Bath, but she was forced to return home to nurse her ailing mother, who died in 1782. Wollstonecraft thereupon moved into the Blood household until it became necessary to rescue her sister Eliza from an unsuccessful marriage; Eliza left her husband and baby daughter to join Mary and Fanny Blood in establishing a school for young ladies, first in Islington and then in Newington Green. Soon after Fanny left to marry and live in Portugal. Mary traveled to Lisbon to assist Fanny during childbirth, but both Fanny and her child died, and a dispirited Mary returned to England to face the problem of supporting herself after the school had to be closed. Her first published book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, excited little attention, but Wollstonecraft won a friend in its publisher, Joseph Johnson. She accepted a post as a governess to the children of Lord Kingsborough in Ireland, but although she was a favorite with the children, she was dismissed. She returned to London with a...

(The entire section is 761 words.)


(Survey of World Philosophers)

Article abstract: In challenging British institutions to extend the political liberties of the American and French Revolutions to women, Wollstonecraft developed a comprehensive feminist program.

Early Life

Mary Wollstonecraft was born April 27, 1759, in London. She was the second of seven children born to Edward Wollstonecraft and his wife, Elizabeth, née Dickson. During the 1760’s, her father sold his prosperous weaving business to become a spendthrift, hard-drinking gentleman farmer. As a result, Mary spent much of her childhood in fear of paternal fits and brutalities, often directed at her mother. A witness early in life to the precarious, helpless status of women, she lost...

(The entire section is 2497 words.)


(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

Author Profile

Wollstonecraft’s significant public activities included running a girls’ school and working with radical political groups that supported the French Revolution. She wrote many articles that were published in left-wing periodicals as well as eight books, including novels, educational manuals, and partisan political treatises. In her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft criticized the view that women should learn only how to keep house and be attractive. Being admired for one’s beauty and vocational skills, she said, is demeaning to a human being. Human beings, both male and female, are distinguished from animals in that they were created by God with...

(The entire section is 767 words.)