Mary Wolstonecraft was born in 1759. She grew up in London in a large family. She watched her father bully his wife and family and protected her sister from an abusive husband. After a few years as a teacher, she decided to follow a literary career.

Mary became disturbed by the unfair treatment of women. She read books by the Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke and Edmund Burke. She was very moved by the French Revolution and their fight for rights. In 1790 she produced her Vindication of the Rights of Man as a response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. In 1792, she published her Vindication of the Rights of Women. This important work advocated equality of the sexes and ideas which were the main doctrines of the later women movement. She did not believe that women were helpless creatures who were fit to be simple decorations inside a man's house. Society had created women who were "gentle domestic brutes." Mary believed women were too often nauseatingly sentimental and foolish. She encouraged women to become educated, to gain self-respect, and put their abilities to good use in society.

Although Mary viewed marriage as a form of tyranny over her sex, she eventually married William Godwin. Mary Wolstonecraft died the year her child was born in 1897. Her daughter, Mary, eventually married Mr. Shelley and wrote the famous novel Frankenstein.

Mary Wolstonecraft was truly an Enlightened thinker and a child of the French Revolution. She saw a new age of reason and benevolence close at hand. Mary undertook the task of helping women to achieve a better life, not only for themselves and for their children, but also for their husbands. She is one of the pioneers of the Women's Rights Movement.

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