In her classic manifesto A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,
pioneer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) embraced an egalitarian social philosophy as the basis for the creation and preservation of equal rights and opportunities for women. In the posthumously published Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman,
Wollstonecraft drew upon similar reasoning, presented in a fictional framework to illustrate the grim reality of a woman's life in the eighteenth century.
Inspired by the writings of Rousseau and William Godwin, her husband and editor, Wollstonecraft was determined to depict "the misery and oppression, particular to women, that arise out of the partial laws and customs of society." The tale of a woman locked up in an asylum by her abusive husband, Maria
dramatizes the effects of the era's draconian English marriage laws. Combining the spirited rhetoric of a philosophical treatise with a narrative as gripping as any gothic fiction, this is the book that laid the groundwork for modern feminism.
Republication of the London, 1798 edition.