Mary wollstonecraft by john opie (c. 1797)

Mary Wollstonecraft

By Moosey
  • Born

    in Spitalfields, London. She was the second of the seven children of Elizabeth Dixon and Edward John Wollstonecraft. Although her family had a comfortable income when she was a child, her father gradually squandered it on speculative projects. Consequently, the family became financially unstable during Wollstonecraft'sand they were frequently forced to move
  • Leaves home

    Unhappy with her home life, Wollstonecraft struck out on her own in 1778 and accepted a job as a lady's companion to Sarah Dawson, a widow living in Bath. However, Wollstonecraft had trouble getting along with the irascible woman
  • returned home upon being called back to care for her dying mother

  • Moves in with the Bloods

    The second and more important friendship was with Fanny (Frances) Blood, introduced to Wollstonecraft by the Clares, a couple in Hoxton who became parental figures to her; Wollstonecraft credited Blood with opening her mind. She realized during the two years she spent with the family that she had idealized Blood, who was more invested in traditional feminine values than was Wollstonecraft.
  • convinced sister Eliza to flee her husband and infant. Wollstonecraft made all of the arrangements for Eliza to flee, demonstrating her willingness to challenge social norms.

    (Eliza probably had postpartum depression.) As a teenager, Wollstonecraft used to lie outside the door of her mother's bedroom to protect her from her father's drunken beatings. Wollstonecraft played a similar maternal role for her sisters, Everina and Eliza, throughout her life. For example, in a defining moment in 1784, she The human costs, however, were severe: her sister suffered social condemnation and, because she could not remarry, was doomed to a life of poverty and hard work
  • Opens boarding school for girls with Fanny Blood

    Wollstonecraft had envisioned living in a female utopia with Blood; they made plans to rent rooms together and support each other emotionally and financially, but this dream collapsed under economic realities. In order to make a living, Wollstonecraft, her sisters, and Blood set up a school together in Newington Green, a Dissenting community.
  • Fanny Blood married Hugh Skeys (born ca. 1758), a wine merchant of Dublin.

    On February 24, 1785,
  • Fanny dies in childbed in Portugal

    Wollstonecraft had left the school and followed Blood to nurse her, but to no avail.Moreover, her abandonment of the school led to its failure.Blood's death devastated Wollstonecraft and was part of the inspiration for her first novel, Mary: A Fiction (1788).
  • Governess in Ireland

    Governess in Ireland
    After Blood's death in 1785, Wollstonecraft's friends helped her obtain a position as governess to the daughters of the Anglo-Irish Kingsborough family in Ireland. Although she could not get along with Lady Kingsborough,[15] the children found her an inspiring instructor; Margaret King would later say she 'had freed her mind from all superstitions'.[16] Some of Wollstonecraft's experiences during this year would make their way into her only children's book, Original Stories from Real Life (1788)
  • Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, 1787

  • Moves to London to write

    Moves to London to write
    She moved to London and, assisted by the liberal publisher Joseph Johnson, found a place to live and work to support herself.
    She learned French and German and translated texts,
  • "The Cave of Fancy". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. William Godwin.

    London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; fragment written in 1787]
  • Period: to

    attended Johnson's famous dinners and met such luminaries as the radical pamphleteer Thomas Paine and the philosopher William Godwin.

    The first time Godwin and Wollstonecraft met, they were disappointed in each other. Godwin had come to hear Paine, but Wollstonecraft assailed him all night long, disagreeing with him on nearly every subject. Johnson himself, however, became much more than a friend; she described him in her letters as a father and a brother.
  • Mary: A Fiction (1788).

    Mary: A Fiction (1788).
  • Original stories from Real Life

    Original stories from Real Life
  • Translates Of the Importance of Religious Opinions by Jacques Necker

  • Period: to

    Contributions to the Analytical Review (1788–1797) [published anonymously]

  • Publication: The Female Reader

    : Or, Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose and Verse; selected from the best writers, and disposed under proper heads; for the improvement of young women. By Mr. Cresswick, teacher of elocution [Mary Wollstonecraft]. To which is prefixed a preface, containing some hints on female education. London: Joseph Johnson, 1789
  • relationship with the artist Henry Fuseli

    relationship with the artist Henry Fuseli
    even though he was already married. She was, she wrote, enraptured by his genius, 'the grandeur of his soul, that quickness of comprehension, and lovely sympathy'. She proposed a platonic living arrangement with Fuseli and his wife, but Fuseli's wife was appalled, and he broke off the relationship with Wollstonecraft
  • Translates: Young Grandison.

    A Series of Letters from Young Persons to Their Cambon, Maria Geertruida van de Werken. Trans. Mary Wollstonecraft. London: Joseph Johnson, 1790.
  • Elements of Morality, for the Use of Children; with an introductory address to parents.

    Salzmann, Christian Gotthilf. Trans. Mary Wollstonecraft. London: Joseph Johnson, 1790.
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke.

    London: Joseph Johnson, 1790.
    Against Burke's dismissal of the Third Estate as men of no account, Wollstonecraft wrote, 'Time may show, that this obscure throng knew more of the human heart and of legislation than the profligates of rank, emasculated by hereditary effeminacy'.
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman with Strictures on Moral and Political Subjects.

    London: Joseph Johnson, 1792.
  • "On the Prevailing Opinion of a Sexual Character in Women, with Strictures on Dr. Gregory's Legacy to His Daughters".

    New Annual Register (1792): 457–466. [From Rights of Woman]
  • Goes to France

    After Fuseli's rejection, Wollstonecraft decided to travel to France to escape the humiliation of the incident, and to participate in the revolutionary events that she had just celebrated in her recent Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790). She had written the Rights of Men in response to the Whig MP Edmund Burke's politically conservative critique of the French Revolution in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) and it made her famous overnight.
  • Keeps company with Helena Maria Williams and others in France

    Keeps company with Helena Maria Williams and others in France
    She sought out other British visitors such as Helen Maria Williams and joined the circle of expatriates then in the city. During her time in Paris, Wollstonecraft associated mostly with the moderate Girondins rather than the more radical Jacobins
  • "Letter on the Present Character of the French Nation". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

    Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; written in 1793]
  • France declares war on Britain, Mary is stuck in France

    Wollstonecraft tried to leave France for Switzerland but was denied permission. At first, foreigner were put under police surveillance and, to get a residency permit, had to produce six written statements from Frenchmen testifying to their loyalty to the republic.
  • Relationship with Gilbert Imlay

    Relationship with Gilbert Imlay
    she met and fell passionately in love with Gilbert Imlay, an American adventurer. Wollstonecraft put her own principles in practice by sleeping with Imlay even though they were not married, which was unacceptable behaviour from a 'respectable' British woman. Whether or not she was interested in marriage, he was not, and she appears to have fallen in love with an idealisation of the man.
  • Imlay tells American embassy he's married Wollestonecraft

    Imlay was taking advantage of the British blockade of France, which had caused shortages and worsened ever-growing inflation, by chartering ships to bring food and soap from America and dodge the British Royal Navy, goods that he could sell at a premium to Frenchmen who still had money. Imlay's blockade-running gained the respect and support of some Jacobins, ensuring, as he had hoped, his freedom during the Terror.
  • British government crackdown on civil liberties

    British government began a crackdown on radicals, suspending civil liberties, imposing drastic censorship, and trying for treason anyone suspected of sympathy with the revolution, which led Wollstonecraft to fear she would be imprisoned if she returned
  • Execution of Louis 16

  • All foreigners forbidden to leave France

    Despite her sympathy for the revolution, life for Wollstonecraft become very uncomfortable, all the more so as the Girondins had lost out to the Jacobins. Some of Wollstonecraft's French friends lost their heads to the guillotine as the Jacobins set out to annihilate their enemies.
  • Imlay departs for London and promised to return soon

  • An Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution; and the Effect It Has produced in Europe.

    Wollstonecraft used all sorts of journals, letters and documents recounting how ordinary people in France reacted to the revolution. She was trying to counteract the 'hysterical' anti-revolutionary mood in Britain, which depicted the revolution as due to the entire French nation's going mad. Wollstonecraft argued instead that it arose from a set of social, economic and political conditions that left no other way out of the crisis that gripped France in 1789.
  • Gives birth to Fanny Imlay

    Gives birth to Fanny Imlay
    naming her after perhaps her closest friend.
  • Coldest winter in a century

    reduced Wollstonecraft and her daughter Fanny to desperate circumstances. The river Seine froze that winter, which made it impossible for ships to bring food and coal to Paris, leading to widespread starvation and deaths from the cold in the city.[44] Wollstonecraft continued to write to Imlay, asking him to return to France at once, declaring she still had faith in the revolution and did not wish to return to Britain.
  • Suicide attempt when rejected by Imlay

    In May 1795 she attempted to commit suicide, probably with laudanum, but Imlay saved her life (although it is unclear how).
  • Goes to Scandinavia for Imlay

    In a last attempt to win back Imlay, she embarked upon some business negotiations for him in Scandinavia, trying to recoup some of his losses. Wollstonecraft undertook this hazardous trip with only her young daughter and a maid. She recounted her travels and thoughts in letters to Imlay, many of which were eventually published as Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark in 1796.
  • Leaves France

    she continued to refer to herself as 'Mrs Imlay', even to her sisters, in order to bestow legitimacy upon her child.
  • Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

    London: Joseph Johnson, 1796.
  • Second suicide attempt: drowning (date?)

    She then went out on a rainy night and "to make her clothes heavy with water, she walked up and down about half an hour" before jumping into the River Thames, but a stranger saw her jump and rescued her.
  • Relationship with William Godwin

    Relationship with William Godwin
    Godwin and Wollstonecraft's unique courtship began slowly, but it eventually became a passionate love affair. Godwin had read her Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark and later wrote that "If ever there was a book calculated to make a man in love with its author, this appears to me to be the book. She speaks of her sorrows, in a way that fills us with melancholy, and dissolves us in tenderness, at the same time that she displays a genius which commands all our admiration."
  • "On Poetry, and Our Relish for the Beauties of Nature".

    Monthly Magazine (April 1797).
  • Marriage to Godwin

    Once Wollstonecraft became pregnant, they decided to marry so that their child would be legitimate. Their marriage revealed the fact that Wollstonecraft had never been married to Imlay, and she and Godwin lost many friends. Godwin received further criticism because he had advocated the abolition of marriage in his philosophical treatise Political Justice. They moved and Godwin rented an apartment 20 doors away as a study, so that they could both still retain their independence
  • Gives birth to Mary

    Gives birth to Mary
    Although the delivery seemed to go well initially, the placenta broke apart during the birth and became infected; childbed fever was a common and often fatal occurrence in the eighteenth century
  • Dies

    After several days of agony, Wollstonecraft died of septicaemia
  • "Fragment of Letters on the Management of Infants". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

    Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; unfinished]
  • The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria. Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

    Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; unfinished]
  • "Lessons". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

    Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; unfinished]
  • "Hints". Posthumous Works of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

    Ed. William Godwin. London: Joseph Johnson, 1798. [Published posthumously; notes on the second volume of Rights of Woman, never written]