Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.
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 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, but 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.