The New International Encyclopædia/Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft

GODWIN, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97). An English miscellaneous writer. She was born at Hoxton, near London, April 27, 1759, and was of Irish descent. Her mother died in 1780, and owing to the brutality of her father, Mary and her sisters were compelled to leave his house. Mary earned her living as school-teacher and governess until 1788, when she settled in London and was employed by Johnson the publisher as reader and translator. While at Paris in 1792 she met Gilbert Imlay, an American merchant and author. After bearing to him a daughter she was deserted. On March 29, 1797, she married William Godwin, and became the mother of Mary, the future Mrs. Shelley. She died September 10, 1797. The outline of her career contributed to the plot of Mrs. Amelia Opie's Adeline Mowbray (1804). Mrs. Godwin was one of the ‘advanced women’ of her time. Her most notable work is Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). She attacked Rousseau's ideal woman, the heroine of novels and boarding-schools. She advocated the establishment of Government day schools, and maintained the right of women to enter the professions and politics. In short, her thesis was the equality of the sexes. Among her other works are: Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787); Original Stories from Real Life (1788); Vindication of the Rights of Men, a letter to Burke (1790); Posthumous Works, containing “Wrongs of Women,” fragment of a novel, and “Letters and Miscellaneous Pieces” (4 vols., 1798). Consult: Godwin, Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Women (London, 1798); Paul, Mary Wollstonecraft: Letters to Imlay, with memoir (London, 1879); and Pennell, Life of Mary Wollstonecraft (Boston, 1884).