Home / Issue 9 / ICONIC TEXTS: Dr Jenny McAuley on ‘Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ by Mary Wollstonecraft

ICONIC TEXTS: Dr Jenny McAuley on ‘Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ by Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary_Wollstonecraft_cph.3b11901‘It requires a legion of Wollstoncrafts to undermine the poisons of prejudice and malevolence.’  Mary Robinson, 1799.

In the fourth installment of our new series of podcasts, Dr Jenny McAuley explores a text written by a trailblazing advocate of women’s rights.  Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman – conceived during the late eighteenth century – made a profound case for the liberation and education of women. Published at the height of the Enlightenment the text, like its author, was both reviled and praised.

Wollstonecraft tragically died at the age of thirty-eight due to complications during the birth of her daughter, Mary. She left behind a chequered reputation and a powerful, albeit eclectic, body of work. Shortly after her death, her widower, William Godwin, wrote about the text in Memoirs, asserting:

When we consider the importance of its doctrines, it seems not very improbably that it will be read as long as the English language endures

But who was Mary Wollstonecraft? What does Vindication really say? And, how much of an impact did it have at the time, and has it had since?  Here, we unravel our fourth ICONIC TEXT.

*Podcast recorded in an eaterie in the bowels of Soho, hence the background clatter.*

Dr Jenny McAuley is a Lecturer in English, and teaches on English literature from 1780 to the contemporary period. Her research interests are currently focused on women writers, and Irish literature, of the Romantic period. She has recently published a new edition of Sydney Owenson’s 1818 novel Florence Macarthy: An Irish Tale in Pickering and Chatto’s Chawton Library Women’s Novels series. 

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