Mary <I>Wollstonecraft</I> Godwin


Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin

Spitalfields, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England
Death 10 Sep 1797 (aged 38)
Somers Town, London Borough of Camden, Greater London, England
Burial Bournemouth, Bournemouth Unitary Authority, Dorset, England
Memorial ID 12828 View Source
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Social Philosopher. Born the eldest daughter of Elizabeth Dixon and Edward Wollstonecraft in Spitalfields, London. At nine, her the family moved to a farm in Beverly, at which time she was enrolled at the local school where she learned to read and write. It was the only formal schooling she would receive. In 1774, the family financial situation forced them to move again, settling in Hoxton, London, before moving again two years later to Laugharne, Wales where her mother died in 1782. In 1784, she opened a school in Newington Green with her sister and a friend. It was here she was introduced to radical thinking, and attended a radical intellectual salon. Through them, she was encouraged to write 'Thoughts on the Education of Girls' which was published in 1787. This was followed by a novel; 'Mary: A Fiction' (1788), and a political pamphlet, 'A Vindication of the Rights of Man' (1789) which defended the idea of revolution and pointed out all that she thought was wrong with society including the slave trade. A second printing of the popular pamphlet was issued in 1791, and it was at the time compared to Paine's 'Common Sense.' The following year saw the publication of her most celebrated work, 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' (1792), which called for equality in education among other topics. She left for Paris that year in order to observe a revolution in progress. In February 1793, France declared war on Britain, and she attempted to leave France but was denied permission. The following month, she met fellow author and expatriate, Gilbert Imlay, they entered into an affair which produced a daughter, Fanny, in May 1794. He deserted her three months later. Her 'An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution' was also published that same year. She returned to England in April 1795, where she attempted suicide after Imlay rejected her plea of reconciliation. Friends encouraged her to write again, and in January 1796 her 'Letters Written During a Short Residence in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden' was published. Shortly thereafter, she began keeping company with the philosopher William Godwin, they were married in March 1797. Five months later, she gave birth to their daughter, Mary. Unsanitary conditions and physician error, however, led to massive infection, and she succumbed to puerperal fever and septicemia eleven days later. Godwin published what he considered a loving testament in 'Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman' the following year, but it's effect was to destroy her reputation for a generation. Later generations, however, lauded her as 'the first feminist;' biographies and studies of her work continue to be published. In 1851, her remains were removed from St Pancras Churchyard, London by her grandson Percy Florence Shelley, and re-interred in his family tomb at St Peter's, Bournmouth.

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 9 Oct 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 12828
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (27 Apr 1759–10 Sep 1797), Find a Grave Memorial ID 12828, citing St Peter Churchyard, Bournemouth, Bournemouth Unitary Authority, Dorset, England ; Maintained by Find a Grave .