Mary was not permitted to walk in the garden; but sometimes, from her window, she turned her eyes from the gloomy walls, in which she pined life away, on the poor wretches who strayed along the walks, and contemplated the most terrific of ruins — that of a human soul.
— Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary and The Wrongs of Woman
In September 1797, Mary Wollstonecraft, writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights, died.
During her brief career, Mary wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children’s book. 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.
This quote is taken from Mary and The Wrongs of Woman, a fictional sequel to the Vindication. In both novels the heroines have to rely on their own resources to establish their independence and intellectual development. Mary learns to take control of her destiny and become a social philanthropist, while Maria, in The Wrongs of Woman, fights imprisonment and a loveless marriage to claim her rights.
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Image: Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie, c. 1797. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.