Mary Wollstonecraft

by everett noel

She was an eighteenth-century English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights

Contrary to popular belief, she was not a feminist, but an individualist. In other words, she was not primarily pro-woman, but pro-individual. She properly recognized that justice requires that each person, man or woman, be judged by his or her own character and individual merits, as opposed to being prejudged, positively or negatively, on the basis of an unchosen group to which they belong.

Contributions to society

As a writer Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Her death

Wollstonecraft died at the age of thirty-eight, ten days after giving birth to her second daughter, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. Her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Mary Shelley , the author of Frankenstein, would become an accomplished writer herself.