Born: April 27, 1759, in London, England
Died: September 10, 1797, in London, England
Mary Wollstonecraft left home at 21 to open a school at Newington Green with her sister and a friend, and it is perhaps then that she began her interest in women and education that was to later earn her recognition as the "mother" of liberal feminism. Two years later, after writing Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, she left for Ireland to be a governess for the children of Lord Kingsborough. In 1788 she returned to live in London, where she worked as a reader and translator for the radical publisher James Johnson. Johnson published Wollstonecraft's novel Mary, A Fiction as well as subsequent works such as A Vindication of the Rights of Man. Her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1792, was a radical text which extended the theory of Liberal rights to women, pleading for equality of education and opportunity.
That year Wollstonecraft left for Paris to observe the French Revolution, where she met American Captain Gilbert Imlay. Imlay was to become the father of their daughter Fanny in 1794 but left her shortly thereafter, causing Wollstonecraft to attempt suicide the following year.
Upon returning to London to once again work for Johnson, Wollstonecraft became involved with the intellectual group which included Thomas Paine, William Blake, William Woodsworth and Henry Fuseli. The group also included William Godwin, whom she married in 1797. The union was a brief one however, as shortly after the birth of their daughter Mary (later to become the author of Frankenstein), Wollstonecraft died of septicemia. Her text Vindication of the Rights of Woman, however, lives on as a classic and as one of the earliest examples of feminist theory.