Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)


Wollstonecraft Time Line

1759April 27, Wollstonecraft was born in London to John Edward Wollstonecraft and Elizabeth Dickson. She had an older brother, Edward and four other children, James, Charles, Eliza and Everina were born after her.
1759-1768The Wollstonecraft family moves frequently during this time. John Edward attempts farming in Epping, Whalebone, and Essex.
1768 The Wollstonecraft family moves to a farm in Yorkshire. Mary's education followed the common course of day-school. But, she also becomes friends with a neighboring clergyman, Mr. Clare. It is at Mr. Clare's home where she begins to develop intellectually.
1775Wollstonecraft meets Francis (Fanny) Blood, who became her closest friend and companion until Blood's death.
1776The Wollstonecraft family moves again to a farm in Wales.
1777 The Wollstonecraft family returns to London. Mary, at eighteen was able to exert some pressure upon her father to live in the village of Walworth which was near London and her friend, Fanny Blood. She also insisted upon a room of her own for quiet and study.
1778Wollstonecraft leaves the family home to become a companion to Widow Dawson of Bath.
1780 Wollstonecraft is called home to be with her failing mother.
1782 Elizabeth Dickson Wollstonecraft dies. Mary's sister, Eliza marries Meredith Bishop. Mary moves in with Fanny Blood.
1784Wollstonecraft is called to nurse her sister Eliza who is apparently deranged from the difficult birth of her daughter and some sources say, the abuse of the husband. Wollstonecraft, Fanny Blood, and Eliza open a school in Islington where they are joined by the other Wollstonecraft sister, Everina. Wollstonecraft becomes acquainted with Dr. Richard Price and other liberals.
178524 of February, Fanny Blood marries Hugh Skeys in Lisbon. She becomes pregnant and sends for Wollstoncraft.
29 of November, Fanny dies in Wollstonecraft's arms of complications from premature birth. Her child dies as well.
1786 Wollstonecraft returns to England to find the school had suffered from her absence. She closes the school and writes her first work, a pamphlet entitled Thoughts on the Education of Daughters. She then accepts the position of governess to the daughters of Lord Viscount Kingsborough and moves to Ireland to fulfill her duties.
1788 Wollstonecraft spends the summer with the Kingsborough family at Bristol Hot-Wells. She writes her first book, Mary, a Fiction, a children's book, Original Stories from Real Life, and translates Jacques Necker's On The Importance Of Religious Opinions. She also becomes involved in her publisher, Joseph Johnson's monthly periodical The Analytical Review as well as beginning translation of Christian Gotthilf Salzmann's Elements Of Morality For The Use Of Children. Her work with Salzman's book led to correspondence and a later reciprocation when Salzmann translated her A Vindication of The Rights of Woman.
1789 Johnson publishes Wollstonecraft's The Female Reader, no copies of which have apparently survived.
1790Wollstonecraft completes and publishes her translation of Salzmann's Elements..., writes A Vindication Of The Rights Of Men in response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on The Revolution In France.
1791 Wollstonecraft establishes a comfortable home on Store Street and begins writing A Vindication of The Rights of Woman. She meets William Godwin several times over the course of the year, but neither party is impressed with the other.
1792 A Vindication of The Rights of Woman is published by Johnson. Leaves for France.
1793 Meets Gilbert Imlay, an American businessman. Moves to the suburbs of Paris for safety. By the end of the year, Wollstonecraft is attached to Imlay yet does not marry him, preferring instead to simply register as his wife at the American Embassy in Paris for protection purposes. Wollstonecraft and Imlay move back into Paris together. Wollstonecraft becomes pregnant. Imlay leaves for Le Havre on a business trip.
1794 Wollstonecraft travels to Le Havre to join Imlay. Daughter Fanny is born May 14. Imlay returns to Paris and is followed by Wollstonecraft and Fanny a short time later. Imlay leaves Wollstonecraft and Fanny and travels to London. Johnson publishes her Historical and Moral View Of The Origin and Progress of The French Revolution.
1795Wollstonecraft takes her daughter and follows Imlay to London. On discovering his infidelity, she begins to contemplate suicide. Imlay thwarts her first attempt. Wollstonecraft leaves on a business trip for Imlay with her child and a nurse to Sweden Norway and Denmark. She returns to find Imlay involved with an actress and attempts suicide by jumping off Putney Bridge.
1796Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, is published by Johnson. Wollstonecraft meets William Godwin again and the two become lovers.
179729 March, Wollstonecraft and Godwin marry in a private ceremony due to Wollstonecraft's pregnancy. They announce their marriage in April. The two maintained separate quarters to work in during the day, but entertained guests in the evening at No. 29 The Polygon.
30 August Mary Wollstonecraft Goodwin is born.
10 September, Wollstonecraft dies of "childbed fever".
1798Goodwin's book Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft is published.

Wollstonecraft Electronic Text:

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Suggested Readings available at OSU

The Valley Library has the bulk of Wollstonecraft's major works as well as several biographies. Not yet available at the Valley Library is the new critical edition edited by Carol H. Poston,A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Sources for the Wollstonecraft Time Line