Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97), radical author and feminist writer, was best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), which argued that marriage should be based on intellectual companionship between the sexes and that women should be granted equal education and opportunity. She went to Paris in the early 1790s, where she met an American, Gilbert Imlay (1754?-1828).  After the birth of their daughter, Fanny, Imlay deserted Mary. She returned to England, where she met William Godwin and moved in his circle that included Mary and Elizabeth Hays and Eliza Fenwick.  Not long after their marriage, Wollstonecraft died after giving birth to a daughter, Mary (later Mary Shelley), in 1797. Wollstonecraft also authored A Vindication of the Rights of Man (1793) and a short posthumous novel, The Wrongs of Woman; or, Maria (1798). The following notice of her death appeared in the Intelligencer on 16 September 1797:  “On Sunday morning died in childhood, Mrs. Godwin, the wife of Mr. William Godwin, of Somers-town.  She was well known throughout Europe by her literary works, under her original name of Wollstonecraft, and particularly by her Vindication of the Rights of Woman.  For affectionate manners, strength of understanding, and sensibility of heart, she was seldom equaled.  Her last work, (Travels in Sweden, etc.)  while it displays a fund of the finest sensibility, discovers that anguish of mind, which it is deeply to be lamented was increased by the gloom of scepticism.”   Mary Hays published a brief obituary on her close friend in the September issue of the Monthly Magazine and a longer tribute to her in Richard Phillips's Annual Necrology, for 1797-8.