Mary Wollstonecraft’s 250th birthday
Jess McCabe // 27 April 2009
Mary Wollstonecraft was born 250 years ago today. Celebrate by reading her famous tract, The Vindication of the Rights of Women.
Or maybe one of her two novels, both, confusingly, titled Mary. According to Wikipedia:
In her first novel, Mary: A Fiction (1788), the eponymous heroine is forced into a loveless marriage for economic reasons; she fulfils her desire for love and affection outside of marriage with two passionate romantic friendships, one with a woman and one with a man. Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman (1798), an unfinished novel published posthumously and often considered Wollstonecraft’s most radical feminist work, revolves around the story of a woman imprisoned in an insane asylum by her husband; like Mary, Maria also finds fulfilment outside of marriage, in an affair with a fellow inmate and a friendship with one of her keepers. Neither of Wollstonecraft’s novels depict successful marriages, although she posits such relationships in the Rights of Woman. At the end of Mary, the heroine believes she is going “to that world where there is neither marrying, nor giving in marriage,” presumably a positive state of affairs.
London readers can also check out the Mother of Feminism art exhibition at Islington & Newington Green Unitarians.