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Writing in an age when the call for the rights of man had brought revolution to America and France, Mary Wollstonecraft produced her own declaration of female independence in 1792. Passionate and forthright, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman attacked the prevailing view of docile, decorative femininity, and instead laid out the principles of emancipation: an equal education for girls and boys, an end to prejudice, and for women to become defined by their profession, not their partner. Mary Wollstonecraft's work was received with a mixture of admiration and outrage - Walpole called her 'a hyena in petticoats' - yet it established her as the mother of modern feminism.
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About the Author
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 - 97) was an educationalist and feminist writer. Part of the radical set that included Blake and Fuseli, her relationship with William Godwin and the birth of their child - Mary Shelley - outside of marraige caused great scandal after her death. Miriam Brody is a professor in the Writing Program at Ithaca College, New York. Her most recent writing on Mary Wollstonecraft appears in Feminist Interpretations of Mary Wollstonecraft (1996).
"We hear [Mary Wollstonecraft's] voice and trace her influence even now among the living."