Before the concept of equality between the sexes was even conceived, Wollstonecraft wrote this book, a treatise of proto-feminism that was as powerful and original then as it is now. In it she argues with clarity and originality for the rational education of women and for an increased female contribution to society. It was a cry for justice from a woman with no power other than her pen and it put in motion a drive towards greater equality between men and women, a movement which continues to this day.
Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 1759 in Spitalfields, London. After an unsettled childhood, she opened a school following which her first work, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, was published in 1787. After a stint as a governess in Ireland, she continued to write and published several other works including Mary (1788), A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) and her most famous, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). That year she travelled to Paris where she met Gilbert Imlay, by whom she had a daughter, Fanny. Her travels around Scandinavia with her baby daughter in 1795, inspired her travel book Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. On returning to London Imlay's neglect drove her to two suicide attempts. In 1797 she married William Godwin, and had a daughter, the future Mary Shelley. Wollstonecraft died of septicaemia shortly after the birth.
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