Wollstonecraft's Rights of Woman


Mary Wollstonecraft


  • Intro

    Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97) was one of Britain’s first great feminist writers. She wrote of her belief that women were only seen as inferior to men because they did not have the same opportunities for a good education. She stressed that women could contribute a huge amount to society, if only they were given the freedom to do so: "Would men but generously snap our chains, and be content with rational fellowship, instead of slavish obedience, they would find us more observant daughters, more affectionate sisters, more faithful wives, more reasonable mothers - in a word, better citizens."


    In the eyes of the law, a married woman had no property, no vote, no money of her own, nor any rights to her children. It was not until the Married Woman's Property Act of 1870 that married women were allowed to keep the money they earned and have ownership of property acquired before or after marriage. Wollstonecraft's essay, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, has many comparisons with Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, an essay that called for social justice and liberty.


    Shelfmark: 523.g.3 vi-vii

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