Wollstonecraft, Mary wo͝ol´stənkräft, –krăft [key], 1759–97, English author and feminist, b. London. She was an early proponent of educational equality between men and women, expressing this radical opinion in Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1786). Her most important book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), was the first great feminist document. She also wrote several novels. In Paris, where she lived with an American, Gilbert Imlay, during much of the French Revolution, she was close to many of the Revolution's leading political figures. After the birth (1794) of a daughter, Fanny, Imlay deserted her, and in 1797 she married William Godwin. She died within days of giving birth to another daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who married Percy Bysshe Shelley.
See W. Godwin, Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1798); biographies by C. Tomalin (1974), E. Sunstein (1975), J. Lorch (1990), J. Todd (2000), D. Jacobs (2001), and L. Gordon (2005); C. Gordon, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (2015); studies by J. Bouten (1975), M. Poovey (1984), M. Ferguson and J. Todd (1984), A. Meena (1989), S. M. Conger (1994), H. D. Jump, ed. (1994 and 2003); M. J. Falco, ed. (1996), A. Tauchert (2002), and B. Taylor (2003).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Social Reformers