Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97) was an educator and writer. She is considered the first major feminist. Inspired by Thomas Paine and his group of ‘Radicals’ she took the doctrine of inalienable human rights that was sparking a revolution in America and applied it to women. Her writings inspired women and inflamed men. She was called “a philosophizing serpent” and a “hyena in petticoats” by the press. Today she is best known as the mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.
“Men, in general, seem to employ their reason to justify prejudices, which they have imbibed, they can scarcely trace how, rather than root them out. The mind must be strong that resolutely forms its own principles; for that kind of intellectual cowardice prevails whichmkes many men shrink from the task, or only do it by halves. Yet, the imperfect conclusions thus drawn, are frequently very plausible, because they are built on partial experience, on just, though narrow views.” Mary Wollstonecraft 1792
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